Scratchtrack gets stuck in a groove

Reid Stratton

Last Wednesday Scratch Track, a self-proclaimed “Acoustic Hip-Hop Soul” trio performed in Stansbury. They arrived at Lawrence amid a long tour of college campuses, with this show being their 60th performance of the tour.
Scratch Track performs without the kind of electronics one usually finds in hip-hop (often a DJ with turntables and a laptop. Two of the band members, Jason Hamlin and Will Gray play guitar, while the front man, DJ Lee, beatboxes, sings, and raps. Despite their claim, Scratch Track does use some minor electronics in the form of pedals that allow DJ to loop his vocally-produced beats.
It is actually this one, seemingly insignificant little electronic device that hurts Scratch Track’s sound more than any one thing. Most songs start off with DJ beatboxing a one or two measure riff into the mic that will repeat continually throughout the song. While each song is distinct fom the others, the endlessly repeating rhythm means each song becomes stale and sometimes even boring. By allowing only one short drum beat to drive each song Scratch Track severely limits their ability to add any nuance to their music
The cure to this problem came about halfway through the show when DJ and Jason played a set of all-acoustic duets that really shined with a fluid, vibrant dynamic missing from the more predetermined songs. Suring this set DJ would allow the guitarist to take care of all the rhythm, excepting a few moments when DJ would take a beatbox solo. Within this more intimate setting they were able to very artfully segue from song to song, incorporating both originals and covers. It also gave DJ a chance to really show the poer of his beautiful voice, which blends well with both rapping and soul singing.