Feel at ease as the faces of Ashanti, Cam’ron and new artist The Game look down at you while going through thousand of records. Scratch DJ Academy brings hip-hop back to its pre-commercial beginnings.
"Everything we have in here is from a junkyard and stuff we found somewhere and made it art," says 24-year old professional DJ and Scratch Academy Director Hapa who owns R.E.H.A.B. and runs www.djcity.com. As one of Scratch Academy’s head instructors, the San Francisco native teaches everyone from 10-year-old girls to over-30 corporate professionals how to mix or perfect their mixing skills.
"DJing is a self-taught profession until now," Hapa says. "We’re kinda opening up this book of secrets. We feel that we need to elevate DJing as an art form."
The late Jam Master Jay from Run DMC (Jason Mizell) along with partners Rob Principe and Reg E. Gaines (author of Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk) founded Scratch Academy in early 2002 in New York. The new L.A. branch, which opened its doors Jan. 8, offers over 50 sets of turntables for class use, celebrity DJ instructors (such as Beat Junkies member and Power 106 mix-show coordinator Mr. Choc) and a copy written curriculum to accommodate every level.
"There’s no community for DJs and it’s one of those professions that’s a specialized craft," Hapa says. "Working DJs know it’s competitive. We wanted to take that element out of it and have a place where everyone can come and call home."
Scratch offers six-week DJ courses for $300 and private lessons, for individuals or small groups, range from $75 to $100. Courses include DJ 101, for beginners, intermediate DJ 151 and intermediate/advanced DJ 202.
Being at Scratch is like kicking back at your friend’s crib, listening to the latest joints and playing video games while messing with expensive turntables atop crates and metal barrels. Hapa begins each session by teaching beat juggling, which is manipulating two records to create one new song.
"I feel that the record store is the new barbershop. I can’t tell you how many DJs come in here and tell me their problems with promoters, getting paid on time, carrying crates up and down stairs, staying for six hours or calling 50 Cent’s "In Da Club" the birthday song," he says.
While being a DJ is undeniably cool, getting started will cost a few pennies. According to Hapa and DJ Hideo from 100.3 The Beat, who’s been known to man the Scratch counter, turntables go for $500 and the entire setup will run up to $1,000. The most expensive asset is the upkeep of records, which range from $5 to $6 apiece. A DJ normally keeps up to 350 records.
Don’t fret if your pockets are empty. Scratch DJ Academy is now offering one full scholarship per semester based on a thoughtful, 500-word essay explaining why you are so deserving.
Scholarship submissions should be sent directly to Scratch DJ Academy – LA, Attn: Scholarship. Scratch is now accepting enrollment for the upcoming Spring Term. DJ 101, 151 and 202 courses begin on March 19. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rehabla.com or www.scratch.com/la.