Manchester Attack

The Roots' Scratch Goes Solo

Scratch -- a member of Philadelphia-based hip-hop band the Roots -- takes his love of the art of beatboxing, or "vocal percussion," as it is often called, to the next level with his solo debut, "The E

Beatboxing, or "vocal percussion," as it is often called, may seem like a lost hip-hop art to some, but artists like Doug E. Fresh and Rahzel the Godfather of Noize have made a name for themselves with their unique vocal stylings. Scratch -- who, like Rahzel, is a member of hip-hop band the Roots -- takes his love of the art to the next level with his solo debut, "The Embodiment of Instrumentation," due June 4 via Ropeadope/Atlantic.

"With the Roots, it's an organization, and they present things in a certain shape or form," Scratch says of his decision to do a solo set. "I try to bring what I can to the table to make the group a whole. This project gave me a chance to break free and do things that I can't do on a Roots record. It was a chance for me to be me to the fullest extent -- I get to be Scratch 24/7."

With a solo album in mind, the Philadelphia native had to find a label that was ready for a beatbox-driven album. Enter Ropeadope Records. "From the gate, I wanted my project to be on an independent [label]," Scratch says of signing with the Philadelphia-based indie. "Dealing with a whole roster of all kinds of artists and trying to break somebody, if you don't break, [the majors] won't pay you any mind and throw you back on the shelf. With an independent, they spend more time with their artists, and they make sure their artists get exposed to the public. I chose Ropeadope because they saw the vision for my record."

"The Embodiment of Instrumentation" features a host of guest artists, including the Roots' Black Thought and Malik B, Bilal, and Floetry. Scratch also made sure that Philadelphia's up-and-coming artists were well-represented.

"Philly's local artists don't get heard like they should, so I wanted to create a platform for them," Scratch says. "Philly needs that whole foundation to grow. Especially right now, because a lot of people are looking at Philly, so it's time to take advantage of that."

This summer, the Roots will join Outkast, Lauryn Hill, and others on the revitalized Smokin' Grooves tour. The trek kicks off July 18 outside San Francisco and runs through Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

Excerpted from the May 25, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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