When the human beatbox first caught the public eye in the early '80s, it was treated (as with rap in toto) like a fad -- ephemeral, ready to disappear with the next strong breeze (or another "fad"). However, it survived, and Philly's Scratch (born Kyle Jones) emerged as one of its masters. A no-frills percussion machine born to replicate the backbeat sound, he helped to keep the art form alive into its third decade. Born in Camden, NJ, one of the United States' most violent cities of the late 20th century, Scratch moved to Philadelphia in his youth, both to escape the violence and to make his mark on the city's fertile hip-hop scene. While showing off his skills in the mid-'90s with the local group Schoolz of Thought, Scratch caught the eye of Philly's chieftains and leading international hip-hop innovators, the Roots crew. He earned a showcase track "? Vs. Scratch" on the 1996 smash LP Illadelph Halflife, where he battled the Roots' world-class drummer ?uestlove to a draw, and toured with the group as DJ and as second-chair beatboxer (behind Rahzel).