Oh, Record Store Day. Are you really eight years old already? You little scamp, you. It is appropriate that I speak to you like a child, because as with almost all children, we have reached the point where we have to accept the fact you’re not special, and we’re just going to have to make the most of it.
Vinyl is selling like crazy right now. It’s incredible resurgence as a format while DJing has turned overwhelmingly digital... ten or fifteen years ago, there’s no way you could have convinced me that would happen. It’s bananas. But as somebody who loves and collects rap records, the first couple hours of RSD in a big shop is the last place I need to be.
Everything was going well enough until around 2012. The super limited RSD-only Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde box set was something worth standing in line for an hour for, I thought... until they re-released it a few months later. You can currently buy a sealed copy on Discogs for half of the sticker price when it dropped. Then the last couple years it’s just been repress city. And not useful represses. At least a few years ago we’d get things like the Liquid Swords with the chess set, or the Fat Boys collection in the pizza box... stuff that wasn’t necessarily for me, but seemed fun enough. Now they’re trying to sell us represses of 12” singles you can get perfectly good original copies of online for $5, for $20 or more.
I am not above copping represses. But there are good represses and bad represses. RSD has been feeding us nothing but bad represses the last couple years. Last year there was a repress of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik released on RSD- GREAT CHOICE FOR A REPRESS. The original press is extremely collectible, going for @ $150 last I checked. I came up on a couple iffy copies a few years ago, put them on the block for all I thought I could happily get from somebody, and got it within a month each time. Plus it’s a very quiet, low quality pressing. Hell yeah, I’ll wait in line for one of those (note- I did not wait in line for one of those. Dude from the shop across the street came into the day job and we got to talking, and he put it on hold for me).
So what happens... it’s another shitty quiet pressing. Like, they REALLY faithfully recreated the OG press. Fucking fuckheads. And oh yeah, it was re-released again a few months later too.
At least last year we got the De La Soul/Jay Dee Smell The Da.I.S.Y. instrumentals, which was maybe the most sought after RSD of the whole shebang... if you happened to be able to get to one of the handful of shops that each got a small slice of the 100 total copies pressed, and be one of the first people in the lines that supposedly began to form right after the bars closed. I believe there was also one guy who got in line at 7:00 right next to the goddamn McDonalds dumpster, saw them all snatched up right in front of his face, was the first person OUT the door, and then miraculously came up on a copy a few hours later thanks to some angels looking over his shoulder. But that may be mere conjecture... an urban legend, if you will.
This year, it’s a pretty poor offering once again. There is a Run The Jewels 12”/EP in kinda-but-not-really-limited quantity coming out, think it’s mostly or all previously released stuff. The majority of releases are once again absurdly priced represses of fucking rap standards. But, we knew this. So let’s talk about the positives...
First of all, recall I made a point of only denigrating the first couple hours of your RSD experience. Once the lames have cleared out and the lines are (hopefully) more tolerable, even at the big spots RSD is a blast. The smaller shops who get cut out of the RSD exclusive releases are usually more inclined to fill the used bins than the bigger stores, and that’s what it’s really all about anyway. And they’re always more inclined to give you beer.
No matter what you like to listen to, you should be able to find something fun that isn’t so expensive that it makes you feel like an idiot for buying it. A few years ago they pressed up the song Cheech and Chong and friends performed in the rock fight at the end of Up In Smoke as a green 45. That is a solid piece of wax. I was talking to a buddy who digs way harder than me in the shop later that week and put him onto it, and that motherfucker just ran over there in what I at least thought was mid-conversation. Damn dude.
This year the official YOU MADE ME pick is the 4xLP Jurassic 5 Quality Control wood box set. If you don’t have it already, shame on you, and fix that immediately (at a reasonable price). This is as good as rap gets. It’s also the CA Prop 19 of rap records- it should have been a slam dunk, but I’ll be damned if I don’t recall most people meh-ing it when I would hype it up back in the day. The common complaint being that Jurassic 5 was corny because they played festivals, instead of you know, the cool crossover shit, like raves! And nowadays, Drake plays Coachella... Quality Control was the record that foretold how hip hop couldn’t, and therefore wouldn’t, have nice things.
There is also a reissue of KMD’s Black Bastards dropping tomorrow, but it’s 2xCD with a 7”. Again though, 5/5, changing the game rap music right there. It is impossible to say too many good things about either of those two albums.
And now, ladies and gentlemen... moar nu beatz!
Drew Dave- SynthBASED
Mello Music Group has been making big moves lately. Coming up mostly with well-received indie acts out of D.C., they started reaching out to bring artists like Apollo Brown and Iron Mike Eagle under their umbrella, and will put a big stamp on the game when they release Pete Rock’s Petestrumentals 2 in a few months. Unfortunately not much of their output that I’ve caught has really bowled me over. But I still got good enough vibes off the new Drew Dave LP to put in a special order at my spot when it wasn’t coming in, and had nearly given up until it showed up on Monday. And even after the extended buildup, this record came through.
Another instrumental release, another wholehearted recommendation. This has more of a new school vibe than that Klaus Layer, by which of course I mean you can hear the Dilla in the chops. And it occasionally gets a little nu school electronic funky without ever going past mid-tempo, especially in the bass tones. Kind of a similar vibe to that last slammin Ras G record. It’s also very consistent, which is especially awesome for an instrumental release. I expect to want to skip over some raps to hear others. Beats, I just want to throw on a side and be cool, and this record accomplishes that x2.