Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crate Digging at Cheapo Discs, Minneapolis, MN

Huge selection.  This is only one sliver of their stock

Related to Elements: Crate Digging, DJ

After a long night of excess, resulting in the need for triple of my daily allotment of coffee in the morning, my only desire was to hit up the local record stores in Minneapolis.  After all, it's not often I get to go crate digging in the Twin Cities.  Besides, finding records is therapeutic, it's my detoxifier of choice, because for whatever reason hang overs are slowly quelled as you flip through records.

Like David Arnold, crate digging always leaves you "feeling mighty fine!"

On this trip I figured it was best to hit up Cheapo Records, I'd dug there before, and looking at the few remaining balled up bills in my same-as-last-night jeans, it seemed like a place called "Cheapo" was the sensible choice to dig for wax.

I plugged Cheapo in to Google Maps, and after a short trip it sent me to their old store.  Cheapo, if you are reading this, please tell Google wassup on maps!

The detour was no big deal though, they put their new address in the window of their old address, so I could see they were now located at 2600 Nicolette St, just a short distance from their old store, now fairly close to one of their competitors, Electric Fetus which I reviewed a few years earlier.

Walking thru the door I could see they had just moved in recently, but it was nice and clean and basically mostly setup as it was clear the main sections were now well organized.  

I started with the rock section as it had the biggest footprint in the store.  Plus, it seems like the more I learn about rock, the more I realize I'll always have some voids in my own rock section that need filling.

No one ever circle jerks the Circle Jerks and that's a damn shame.

I should have bought that Circle Jerks album, it was a fair price for an original pressing of this classic punk album, but I had to be extra picky with my money today, so I reluctantly passed this by looking for my must-haves at true cheap-o prices.  

I figured maybe buying a few good 7" records would be easy on the wallet, so I asked one of the store clerks where the 7" section was.

"We don't have a 7" section set up yet, sorry we're still moving stuff around.  If you dig thru the various 12" records you'll find a few in each section but we don't have a 7" section right now."

I was disappointed, but I get it, moving all those records must have been a back breaking feat.  Now putting the pieces back together again while still staying in business is a task that will take weeks.  Hopefully the next time I pop in they will have 7 inch records section all set up.

So I asked them if they had a regional music set up and the store clerk said "Yep, sure do." and without hesitation he was kind enough to stop what he was working on to lead me to their nice big section of Twin Cities based regional records.   

"When in Rome, right?" 
"Definitely!" he replied with a smile.

What'ya know, there really are Hypstrz in record stores!

Nice!  The Hypstrz, this one I had to buy.  I found out about these guys from a regional rock compilation on Twin Tone called "Big Hits of Mid America Volume 3".  This is exactly why I buy regional rock comps, so I can learn about what bands speak to me the most from whatever city or location I happen to be in.  

Inner Gate fold of Big Hits of Mid America Volume 3

Little did I know when I bought that compilation years ago that not only would it become one of my all-time favorite personal compilations that I never seem to get sick of listening to, but now it's paid off again by giving me enough of a taste of the Hypstrz to know I needed to buy that live album, "Hypstrization!" today. 

Price wise, it wasn't exactly cheapo, but it was mint, and when in Rome, don't pay for shipping.

Then I ran into multiple copies of Yo La Tengo - I can Hear the Heart Beating As One LP

I went ahead and picked this up as well.  It's the reasonably priced reissue on Matador from 2015.  After a quick Discogs search, I could see no one bitched about the quality of this repress yet, and everyone else had it priced a bit higher.  

This is one of those albums that when you tell people you liked their newer stuff, they tell you...  

"Well you gotta have this one!"  "You can't TRULY appreciate Yo La Tengo unless you have yada yada..."

Well I got it now, and I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the original, so I don't have to hear that again.  It's a good album BTW, maybe not my favorite of theirs but I'm glad I took the advice nonetheless.

Past the rock section's Ys and Zs and onto the end cap where I spotted...

Mark Andrews ‎– How To Set Up And Test Hi-Fi Stereo Systems

I've always wanted one of these test records for putting my home studio's amp and speakers through the fine tooth comb, but today wasn't the day to try to justify buying a record I'd use only once and maybe sample several times for the "oddity" factor it had.  Besides I saw on Discogs 1 seller in the US had it for $5, and Cheapo had it for $20, so if I really needed it I would just pay for shipping, still pay a lot less, and wait a bit longer for something that basically wasn't essential.

Saving the best for last, it was time to hit up their Hip Hop Section...

 Rodney O & Joe Cooley ‎– Me And Joe LP
I pawed at this essential Egyptian Empire release a few times before putting it back reluctantly.  File under: Yet another Hip Hop classic LP that I still don't have on vinyl.  It was in great shape, the price was not horrible, but not low enough to make me jump on it. 

In a nutshell, that's my overall take on Cheapos...  Their prices really aren't that cheap, but compared to Discogs pricing along with whatever shipping you would have to pay to get it to your door, they are fair and their selection is solid.  So don't expect to walk in the door and dump 100 bucks on a thousand dollars worth of records.  

These guys know what they are doing, they know what sells for what, and they often price right in that comfort zone where they aren't making a killing on each sale, but they are moving enough records to keep the doors open for many more years to come.  Yes, if you spend a few hours in the store meticulously digging through their shelves, you will find some legitimately cheap and good records, but for the most part, I think it's safe to say their prices are basically "up to par."  I don't think you should really shop at Cheapos to get cheap records, you should shop there for the huge selection so you can buy good records at a fair price. 

Eventually it was time to hit the long road home.   As I stood at the counter to pay for my tiny haul, the last remaining sales staff in the store was on the phone.  She didn't look like she wanted to be on the phone, on the contrary she appeared to be in pain.  

Apparently someone in the store earlier didn't like the look she gave her, or how she stated one of her sentences,  so she was getting an absolute earful from this irate customer.  The UPS guy showed up with a delivery and waited along with me for his signature for delivery as she carefully listened to the grievances being shouted at her on the phone.  She had to hold the ear piece away from her ear a few times and I could hear from my vantage point that the woman on the phone was not done giving her as much hell as she could possibly dish out. 

I sympathized with her as I watched her take it in stride, doing her best to fix the situation, so I waited while the UPS guy couldn't wait a minute longer.  Mind you, I was in metered parking so I was getting anxious waiting myself, but I patiently waited until the customer hung up on her a third time.

After all that she looked at me and smiled and said...

"I'm sorry for making you wait, that customer really needed my attention and I couldn't just tell her to hold on while I checked you out."

"Don't worry about it, I understand completely!" I told her.

"For being patient with me I'll give you this 7" for free." she added.

I was grateful for the freebie, and genuinely impressed with how that situation was handled.  Honestly, I have to give them props for being good people and running a good operation.  That situation she dealt with is a part of business sometimes, and I get that you can't please all the people all the time.  Yet long ago, and again today, they won me over, so I'll definitely be back to dig again in their shelves in the future.

TLDR: if you ever find yourself in Downtown Minneapolis, longing for a few hours to kill to do a little therapeutic crate digging, hit up Cheapo records and you'll find a few great records to add to your collection.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reddit Vinyl: The Land of Dad Rock Records, Vinyl Tourists, and Downvote Teens

At Reddit Vinyl it's always harder to find the guy who isn't Waldo.

Related to Elements: Cratedigging

Pertinent confession: I am a music forum whore.  I spend a little too much otherwise valuable work time at various record related, crate digging, and Hip Hop focused forums residing all over the globe.  For many years I've made my daily rounds between the forums, blogs, and news feeds relentlessly satiating my music information void.  

Sometime along the way it became obvious that every music forum has it's own distinct qualities, quirks and 'personalities' as unique as the individual members who dwell there.  In a way, these online communities I routinely visit each represent a contradistinctive slice of the overall worldwide music scene.

Usually I am on the prowl for these fresh sources of music information, actively seeking them out, but once in a while the forum finds me.  That was the case with Reddit Vinyl when a user linked to my DIY Record Storage Shelves. It blew up my visitor stats for that week, and like a red cape in front of a bull it grabbed my attention.  

As always, curiosity killed this cat because I couldn't ignore those numbers.  Upon discovering the information was deemed helpful to a handful of fellow record aficionados, I joined the seemingly massive community hoping to build with and grow from other like-minded vinyl addicts.  

Subsequently this was my first Reddit post ever.  With that first post I contributed one way I knew how to contribute, hoping to get a little in return.  Ultimately, that's what these forums are all about.  You get in what you put in.  Well, if only I knew then what I know now.

Reddit Vinyl, the Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Before we get into the bad and the ugly, I'll start with the good.  After all, there's got to be some reason to visit the forum, much less blog about it.  Well, for starters, besides the sheer massive number of members, and consequently threads and comments, a huge quantity of record related news and updates rolls through there starting on page one.  Don't like what's on page one right now?  Just wait a few hours and it'll be filled up with new threads and record related links.  Some of the news on page one can actually be relevant and fresh when it's not over-posted by those too lazy to use the search button to see if the news has already made it's rounds.  

So digging for quality content at r/vinyl is a lot like digging for good records.  Imagine crate digging in a football field sized record store for just a few good records.  Obviously you'd have to flip past a million crap records to get to the ones you care about.  Likewise with r/vinyl, before you find the newsworthy and\or valuable information, you gotta flip past a million and one pointless newb posts, like comic strip posts of Charlie Brown being proud of his collection, kids closely relating to Joseph Roundtree's confusion with vinyl, the collective teenagers' giddiness with lego turntables, a myriad of "My Goodwill hauls!" clone threads, "I built my first IKEA!   Fellow clones look and drool!" and "Help me find a turntable for under 200 bucks!"   Now imagine infinite variants of these threads from wannabe record collectors who correctly assume that r/vinyl is the place to find experts of cheap crappy used decks.  As long as you don't mind digging past this unstoppable flood of madness there's some real data there.

Throughout this minute by minute torrent of repetitive fluff, the mods frankly do their best to deal with the impotence.  They constantly point to their "sidebar rules" that exist to deter the flow of "hold my hand and walk me thru buying crap turntables that don't suck" threads.  Another of these ignored and unarguably ineffective rules supposedly bans photos of collections containing no descriptions or effort whatsoever.  Yet every day a pic of nothing more than dollar bin records lying on the carpet next to the owner's photo-bombing, nasty-ass bare feet at the bottom of the frame are posted.  The moderators do try, but the downpour of newb dumbassery is just way too much to quell as they are so vastly outnumbered.  Regardless, for their underpaid selfless effort to maintain some sense of relevance there and their attempts to purge the flow of one-percenters' half-assed posts, they do deserve credit.  Likewise for the relevant threads that eventually linger on page one, r/vinyl deserves credit for being that source of information.

Not to mention, although stifled and disenfranchised by the overwhelming masses of vinyl tourists asking uncreative questions, there is still a fair amount of members who truly know their shit.  This small minority of intelligent cats are genuinely good people, knowledgeable about turntables and certain records and genres.  They bring insightful answers, good banter, and somehow maintain a little bit of grace and sanity in the face of staggering flamboyant ignorance.

The Bad and the Ugly = Downvote Teens

Shortly after my first post it became painfully obvious that the forum had a massive number of members.  Unfortunately their quantity wasn't the solution, it was the problem.  Vinyl is trending right now and record sales have skyrocketed the past few years and somehow almost all of these new-to-vinyl collectors decided to start at r/vinyl.  By my estimation, approximately 90 percent of the members in r/vinyl are basically mystified newbs and\or vinyl tourists who are, according to their own words, "curious about vinyl".  

It's actually worse than that.  Not only are the bulk of members simply clueless people, but they are the worst kind of people, actual teenagers who think at one year of hand-me down records from Grandma's attic and one Daft Punk record gives them the expertise to advice the legions of incoming eager to learn impressionable trainees who are just coming out of lurking.  Like Lord of the Flies online, these self appointed child experts add confusion to the chaos by mass downvoting otherwise good advice if it even remotely contradicts their narrow minded blurted-out comments and assumptions.  

The Numbers Don't Lie

r/vinyl's own member age poll conducted by their moderators indicates a lopsided percentage of teen angst.

Poll Source

Need More Proof?

Now, if this Reddit supplied polling data isn't enough to convince you of the hoards of dysfunctional teenyboppers there, then this following link should be all the additional proof you need...

Thread Titled: People who've spent triple digits on a single record, what was it and why?  

The most upvoted response was this...

"Taylor Swift - RED. Limited ACM Awards edition. Bought it for $250 excl. shipping. Bought it because I just love that album. Not that I'm going to play it though."  - maxim380
As of today, 90 people upvoted this human being's response making it the most popular answer by a landslide.  

Furthermore, the member added...

"I don't play it because I don't want to risk scratching it or damaging it in some other way. I know that the chance of that happening is really small, but I just don't want to take the risk." - maxim380

Adding insult to injury, this comment also was upvoted incessantly because the resident vinyl tourists find it perfectly normal to buy a record just to have it for bragging rights or display purposes.  

And hey, what better artist to brag about spending 250 dollars on than that tinsel town concocted teen idol who produces cheerleader anthems, Taylor Swift?   It's inevitable that all of her future ex-fans will outgrew their training bras, and on that day they'll figure out how God-awful this pixie rockstar's so-called country music is.  Except for dumb ass teenaged disciples with Taylor Swift pajamas, it is universally understood that she embodies everything that is tawdry and petty with the music industry.  Apparently, as America's elvish red-carpet sweetheart, the moment that wretched voice comes out the speakers crooning about her whoring around in her own narcissistic world, we're supposed to be able to relate.  Even the twiggy twit herself knows that only teenagers can subscribe to her corny, mellowdramatic lyrics.  She's understands that it's because of these moldable juveniles that she's set for life.  Well, for whatever reason this collective of Swift putty found it's permanent residence at Reddit Vinyl.

This overpopulation of perplexed newbs and downvote teens are the proverbial "bad and the ugly".  They are the true elephant in the room and they are directly responsible for r/vinyl ultimately being a pathetic joke of a vinyl record collectors forum.  Because of this paralyzing flood of them rearing their trend-jumping heads every hour, Reddit vinyl will never reach it's potential to become a serious online resource. Because of the downvote teens, it will always be the land of vinyl newbs.   

What Exactly Are Downvote Teens?


One unique to Reddit trait that could be a powerful feature when properly utilized is the up and down vote option on every post.  Be that as it may, at Reddit Vinyl that just means every single word out of your mouth is a high school popularity contest.  Effectively, every kid there will do whatever it takes to sit at the r/vinyl cool kids' lunch table.  

Ironically, they call this "karma" but it has absolutely nothing to do with karma at all.  They know in order to fast-track their way to this proverbial table they should rush to be the first to reply to the forum's posts with the most cynical responses, obvious solutions, blatant ass-kissing, and\or any popularly held beliefs regardless of their statement being correct or relevant.  

Not quick enough to get there first?  Ok, how about a gif animation of a kitty cat spinning on a turntable as your response to a topic?   Useless fluff guarantees karma points.  The more pandering to this lowest common denominator, the more karma points you "earn".  While these points are basically as valuable as pretend money, to the downvote teens, accumulating them is the same as offering up your Fruit Roll-Ups to the homecoming king.  

The quintessential example of a downvote teen's user profile


While fluff and fruitless remarks get awarded with upvotes by the mindless masses, almost everything else is downvoted by the downvote teens.  Comments which are accurate and helpful responses are often ignored and hover at neutral.  At least they are upvoted by lingering well-informed members attempting to offset the multitude of snot-nosed brats who are pressing down arrow because they are "annoyed" with the confident "tone" of the factual contribution.  Therefore comments like "I'm pretty sure you're right, but you don't have to sound like such an asshole!" get upvoted by the same dysfunctional teens downvoting the dead-on response.  

Likewise, it's no surprise that name-calling and insults to purveyors of unpopular opinions get upvotes while actual healthy debate and respectful disagreements and discussion are treated with indifference.  

Behold the March of the Downvote Lemmings 

Moreover, once a comment is downvoted to reach a negative number, or even zero, like clockwork, the mob mentality kicks in.  These powerless teenagers often don't read the comment being downvoted, (everything is TLDR) nor do they care as to why it's being downvoted.  It's simply an instantaneous knee-jerk response for them to click down arrow because they instinctually mimic their own kind.  For these helpless drones "monkey see, monkey do" is their standard because individual thought is just too hard.

Lemmings are too dense to contribute to the topic so instead they lurk and blindly follow the downvoters.



Why Do Downvote Teens Downvote?

Since teens have no real control over their lives, they overcompensate by retreating into the Reddit virtual world where the downvote serves as their wooden sword.  Consumed by misplaced angst, sexual frustration, and petty beefs, they are completely oblivious to their own awkwardness, so they take comfort in religiously pushing the down arrow.  These twerps easily fool themselves into thinking that will be their expression of power.  Like an old man with a penis car, a downvote teen burns rubber at Reddit vinyl.

Meanwhile, outside Reddit vinyl in the real world, their mothers are fucking pissed at them for not putting their clothes in the hamper and jizzing all over their socks balled up under their beds. She's ready to drop their allowance to 20 bucks a week for not watering the cat and making their beds, but sadly she won't do it because she's so drained from the constant battle.  Instead she'll limit their video game privileges to a mere 4 hours a day effectively enabling the teen to continue down the same fruitless path.   

Downvote teens will always upvote Crap Stevens, crap disco and all dad rock

What Do Downvote Teens Upvote? (Like)

Believe it or not, they downvote pretty much everything, but downvote teens do upvote a few types of threads and comments.  The following types of threads constantly stay on page one due to the DVTs upvoting them...

  • Anything Beatles Related, Especially the Butcher Cover
  • Anything pertaining to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or the Doors Records
  • Any kind of dad rock picture posts
  • Any kind of records inherited from parents or grandparents picture posts
  • Any kind of "my humble setup threads" as long as the word humble or "small" is used
  • Dorm Room Setup Pic Topics
  • Any Thread from 15 or 16 year old teens announcing their age in the title
  • Anything IKEA related because they are proud they can erect it for their 4 records
  • Anything negative about Crosley Record Players
  • MF Doom and Nas Records but no other Hip Hop
  • Goodwill Record Haul Posts
  • RSD Haul Posts and, ironically, RSD Sucks Posts
  • Thrift Sale or Garage Sale Haul Pic Posts
  • Posts about Records purchased Best Buy or Hot Topic
  • Any cartoons that contain a record player in them
  • Tiny turntables built out of legos
  • Any picture that contains a cat
  • Any thread that starts with "HELP!!!"
  • Any Daft Punk topic
  • Any rock band that is named after an animal
  • Every rock band that is getting the daily reddit circle jerk
  • Comments from people who say "Get that turntable off your receiver!"  
  • "Vintage" players even if they are broken and are as big as a chest freezer
  • Colored Vinyl Records
  • People who display their records on the wall even if they don't have a turntable
  • Threads with "My Grail" or "My White Whale" in it despite it being a common record
  • Responses that are gif links
  • Anyone who yells at someone "Pretentious!" "Elitist!" "Prick" or "Asshole" especially in any combination of these words
  • People who bitch about record sellers


What Do Downvote Teens Downvote? (Dislike)

  • Crosley Brand Record Players unless it has a Peanuts Cartoon on it.  However most of them had a Crosley on day one of joining r/vinyl.
  • Flippers, aka all sellers who make a few extra bucks on post RSD resales.  They want stores to stay in business they just don't want sellers to make money.
  • Record players that don't come with a dust cover (must kill dust!)
  • Record players that don't come with a cue lever (too clutzy to hand cue a record)
  • DJs since they ruin records.
  • People who scratch or even touch the grooves (Q-bert is satan to them)
  • Any kind of negative opinion about any music will be mass downvoted (With opinion, only positive comments are tolerated especially when it comes to the Beatles and Taylor Swift)
  • People who say "Vinyls" (Which obviously it isn't a word, but they are extremely passionate about disliking that word)
  • People who correct people who say "vinyls".  (They want people to know without being told)
  • People who don't follow the "side bar" rules
  • People who tell people to follow the "side bar" rules
  • Picture discs (although displaying them is fine, enjoying the music on them is unacceptable.)
  • Threads with individual music taste which isn't their own
  • Record Store owners that put price tags on records
  • Anything related to actual crate digging
  • Lastly, they hate me for saying this.  So much so that they created this thread.


Daily Downvote Dumbassery: What Do Downvote Teens Claim To Understand But Can't Grasp?

  • Stacking your records vertically will immediately warp your records.  (While it's true that doing so in huge stacks for many months may warp some records this belief is highly exaggerated.)  
  • Getting water on your record label will ruin it.  (During the manufacturing process the label is literally melted into the record, it can be submerged and it will still be fine.)
  •  All Crosleys suck and having one will ruin every record it touches.  (While most are low end or starter players they aren't going to destroy your records in any normal amount of play time.  Record player manufacturers know you gotta have the BMWs and Yugos and everything in between.)
  • Using the cue lever is essential or you'll break the needle and\or scratch your records.  (Actually, for them this is true.  Certainly if they are too afraid to learn how to hand cue records they'll never be coordinated enough to cue records quickly and efficiently like your average human being does with their hands.)  
  • The dust cover is the most important part on a turntable.   (Some of these dolts actually play records under the plastic cover because they are afraid of the dust that will accumulate during one rotation will ruin the record.  Doing this is not only impractical and stupid looking, but it actually generates more static electricity and can potentially make the record sound tinny with the big plastic shell reverberating in play.)
  •  What "holy grail" records are. (They equate "expensive" and "I have to have it" to it being a holy grail, oblivious to the rarity factor and how much something is sought.  Meanwhile in reality, "grails" are just like the real holy grail artifact, thus the reference.  Every one wants to touch it and no one knows where one is that can be obtained.  Often they add the word "My" to the title proving that they truly don't get it.  "I found my holy grail!"  Boobs who say shit like that need to stop grailing everything they want, because it's making that word completely meaningless.)
  •  What to buy  (Sometimes they literally ask the entire forum what record they should buy because they have no personal taste.  All they know about what rock to buy they learned from what r/vinyl circle jerked numerous times.  Or they heard about it from their parents first.  They might hate their parents but for some reason they love their parents' hand me down crap records.  Any kind of unknown record is worthless to them unless it was featured on numerous cloned Reddit threads featuring that currently trending band.)

Common Downvote Teen Traits

 Typical Downvote Teen Setup Pics...  In no particular order...
  • Setup 1 (This couldn't be any more perfect of an example)
  • Setup 2 (Blurry cell phone pic, empty IKEA, and toys)
  • Setup 3 (Shit on the floor, deck on amp, lined up in front of a damn radiator) 
  • Setup 4 (Let's try really hard to not impress anyone)
  • A Downvote Teen's DIY Record Wall Display (Oh, here's a surprise, it's Daft Punk)

Uh Oh!  Banned from Reddit Vinyl


Ever been fired from the worst job you ever had in your life?  That basically sums up the emotion I had when I was banned without warning not long ago.  My last post was a comment on a punk band I had respect for and shortly after posting that I got a anonymous message with no explanation saying I could no longer post at r/vinyl.  

Why this happened, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it had something to do with me voicing my opinions on Taylor Swift two comments prior to that and clearly that really pissed off a lot of people.  That wasn't the first time I dissed that woman, nor was it the first time I openly expressed my fatigue from all the rehashed monotony and predictable 1% effort newb clones .  I'm guessing airing those grievances was deemed "trolling" by one or more of the mods and dropping the ban hammer was determined to be the most efficient way to protect the glass houses. 

I understood that very day that it was in fact better for everyone, especially myself that the band-aid was effectively ripped off.   The entire time I was actively posting there, digging through their proverbial information crates, I was constantly flipping past way too many beat up Elvis and Beatles records in there to get to the relevant content.  I spent way too much time trying to rinse the hair off the bar of soap knowing full well that I was in a yeti's shower.  

Keep in mind, I've never been banned from anything in my life, and in this one case, being told I don't belong there was nothing more than a subtle compliment.  I should add that it is a known fact that ANY serious record collector who has been buying records for at least 2 years will find the frustration of the daily flood of downvote teen dumbassery trumps everything.  Bottom line, as a forum member, unless you are "curious about possibly starting to collect vinyl," or "new to vinyl" or "16 and look what you bought with your allowance!" you won't get out what you put in at Reddit vinyl.

That's right kids, if your Ipod Touch isn't cutting it any more, even after the Beats by Dre earbuds birthday present upgrade, and you've resorted to dusting off the hand-me-down dad-rock records in the basement, r/vinyl will gladly welcome you to your new home where you'll be accompanied by thousands of like-minded, equally clueless but passionate newb clones. 

On the opposite hand, If you really wanna learn something about digging records,  Reddit does have a cratedigging subreddit, but it's clearly much smaller.  I haven't been there so I can't comment on it. 

Obviously, outside of the mega-forums of Reddit there are many valuable online communities to enrich your record collecting knowledge and experiences, many with contributing members who want to make connections as much as you do.  Cratedigging forums like the Cratedigging Cooperative, DWG forums, The Record Collectors Guild, and the Vinyl Collective Forum, to name just a few, all have active members of varying age groups and experience levels who are looking for the same mutually beneficial cultivation of music understanding that you desire.  Best of all, you'll find it all without any of the predictable prepubescent absurdity of the downvote teens.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wild Style Completionisms

Stickup Kids: "A to the K?"  "A to the mother fuckin Z."
(feel free to click on any pic to zoom in) 

Related to Elements: DJ, MC, B-Boying, Graffiti, Wild Style, Crate Digging

Of all the Old School Hip Hop movies, Wild Style is the absolute best.  Billboard Magazine is even more flattering.

"#1 Hip-Hop movie of all time" - Billboard Magazine

That's not too bold of a claim since it is essentially a fly on the wall view of the birth of the forthcoming worldwide cultural Hip Hop explosion.  The tale is told from an insider's perspective where you see the original 4 elements of Hip Hop all on equal footing.  Even at the grand finale scene of the movie, the raw energy and talent doesn't reach beyond the South Bronx's Amphitheater.  Nevertheless, this is where it all began, and the confidence and freshness factor of this movie's real life players can't be fucked with.  

Now, 30 years down the line, you can pop in the DVD and it's still as fresh now as it was back then.  No other movie unidealistically touches the reality of early days of Hip Hop more than Wild Style.

Right, But What about the Music?

Various Wild Style Records, the OST CD and 30th Anniversary DVD

One of the very first records I ever bought was the Wild Style Soundtrack.  When the mailman dropped it off on my stoop I was stoked and soon after unboxing it the stoked feeling turned to "Oh, wait, this is kinda flimsy."  Turns out I bought a "bootleg\unofficial" copy.  For all intensive purposes "Bootleg" and "Unofficial" are the same thing, but Discogs says it like that so I guess I better follow their lead.

Still, I had the soundtrack and I was elated.  I reluctantly realized it didn't sound the best but, frankly, back then I was happy to have any classic Hip Hop record even if it was just a crappy boot.

At some point I realized I wasn't happy enough.  It sounded like crap and I knew an original copy had to be out there.  But back in those days that original OST went for 50-100 bucks on Ebay (which is incidentally why it had been bootlegged) and that was well out of my financial grasp.

Luckily, the good people at Mr Bongo out of the UK had guys like me covered because they procured the rights to a legitimate and nicely pressed 2LP reissue with Bonus Tracks.

Obviously I was all over that along with other various Wild Style records along the way...

TLDR.  Fast forward to today, I finally got the original copy and hell yeah, it was worth the wait.  It sounds just as sweet as I hoped it would. 

Various Wild Style Records (click to zoom in)

Wild Style Soundtrack: The Bootleg vs the Original

Other than tell-tale wear and tear the covers look the same

The covers may look the same but the original can be identified by extra printing on the back cover and on the record label.

If it doesn't say "Jem" it's fake.  (click to zoom)

Look for the "Manufactured by Jem Records" writing on the back cover and on the record label.

Click to zoom in on the label of the "unofficial" Wild Style OST

Click to zoom in on the label of the Original Wild Style OST

The bootleg is the absolute worst sounding pressing so it should be avoided at all costs.  The Mr Bongo 2LP pressing is fantastic and so is the OG.  I personally like the OG best because of the way the songs are originally mixed.  It's almost like a DJ mix not unlike the style of mixing on the classic Street Sound's Electro compilations.  Mr Bongo's (and\or Beyongolia) versions are great pressings too but listening to it them has more of a compilation flow and "feel" to it.

The Wild Style Theme Rap 12" (Animal) 1983

Wild Style Theme Rap 12"

The version on this twelve inch single is VERY different from the rap of the same name on the OST.  This seems more electo-beat laced.  It has thicker production and it's a different beast of a classic altogether.  I was a bit surprised to see how dope this was when I played it expecting the album version.  Grandmaster Caz will always be the man, but back in 83 he was making undeniable moves on hot singles like this one.

"Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album" Origins

DJ Black Steel Presents: The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP (Music of Life) 1990

During my early Wild Style collecting years I came across the "Original Wild Style Breakbeats"

the "Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album" record cover
OWSBBA back cover "Straight Outta the South Bronx"

OWSBBA record label

What's the deal with this album?  Who the hell is DJ Black Steel?  I felt compelled to find out the origins.  Apparently there is this rare record out there called the Wild Style Test Pressing and he was one of the insanely lucky dudes who had a copy.  

Yeah, right!  What kind of holy grail tall tale is this?  Turns out it's very true, let's get it straight from the horse's mouth...  Check out what Freddy Fresh said on the matter.

"Taken from my book...
ANIMAL RECORDS (Wild Style Soundtrack) This record was originally available through special screenings of the B Boy culture documentary of the film by the same name. At the end of screenings they would sell the album soundtrack of this film. I purchased my copy in 1983 at a screening of the film at the Bell Theater University of Minnesota. There were a handful of test pressings made of the instrumental versions of the songs as well, these were made for the DJ’s in the actual film to play and scratch with etc.. A few copies leaked out but almost NO ONE has an original test pressing of this record. (see test pressings, bootlegs etc..) see scan near end of book

6005 Wildstyle Soundtrack (Grand Wizard Theodore – Military Cut, Busy Bee Vs. Rodney C – MC Battle, Cold Crush Brothers vs. Fantastic Freaks – Basketball Throwdown, Fantastic Freaks at the Dixie, Grand Wizard Theodore – Subway Theme, Cold Crush Brothers at the Dixie, Double Trouble – Stoop Rap, Double Trouble at the Amphitheater, Busy Bee at the Amphitheater, DJ Grand Wizard Theodore – Gangbusters, Rammellzee & Shockwell at the Amphitheater) **** 1983
This album has been reissued through Beyongolia Records London England and includes 6 exclusive tracks not on the original Wildstyle album they are (Busy Bee’s –Limo Rap, Grandmaster Caz – South Bronx Subway Rap, Busy Bee – Street Rap, Fantastic Freaks at the Amphitheater, Fab 5 Freddy – Down By Law) 1998"
"Wild style inst. originally released as TEST PRESSING 20 copies or so is INVALUABLE.  The Black Steel EP (Music OF LIFE) is the same thing basically and much more available.. also the BONGO cats in London re-released this and is fantastic pressing." - Freddy Fresh (source: Oldschoolhiphop.forumco.com)

This info about this uber-rare Wild Style Test Pressing was in fact taken from his own book, Freddy Fresh's Rap Records Volume 2...

Info from Rap Records Volume 2 on pages 31 and 637
Chalie Ahearn signed Wild Style Test Pressing pic courtesy of Rob at TSL

BTW, this book is an incredible crate diggers' reference.  Here is a link to Freddy Fresh's Shop page with active links to buy it. 

However, recently it has been brought to light that as many as 100 of these test pressings exist...

Quote from Sureshot La Rock Confirms 100 Test Pressings were made

Regardless, who am I kidding if I think I'll land one of those hundred known blank white label test pressings?  Let's be realistic here.  These Original Breakbeats Album and Mr Bongo's Instrumental Beats album will have to suffice. 

Mr Bongo's and Beyongolia Wild Style Incarnations


Wild Style Original Soundtrack 2LP Version (Beyongolia) 1998

You've seen the cover... Back of Wild Style OST 2LP (zoom in for track list)

Wild Style OST 2LP shown in center with Gatefold Open, Nice shot of the Amphitheater.  (zoomable)

The Wild Style OST 2LP pressing not only sounds good, but as already mentioned. it's also got a few bonus tracks and a gatefold cover.

Wild Style Instrumental Beats LP (Beyongolia) 1998

Front cover of Wild Style Instrumental Beats

Track listing and back cover of Wild Style Instrumental Beats

As mentioned above these Wild Style Instrumental Beats are exactly that.  A Wild Style Test Press for the rest of us kinda deal.  Very similar to the "Wild Style Original Breakbeats" but different track lengths and a few different tracks altogether.  Having both this Instrumental Beats and the Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album isn't essential unless you are a completionist.  Frankly, I should have two of both since they are screaming to be juggled.

Wild Style Instrumental Beats Record Label


Wild Style Lesson EP (Mr Bongo) 2007

Jumping on "the Lessons" bandwagon, Mr Bongo released the Wild Style Lesson EP on the 25th anniversary of the movie.   

Wild Style Lesson EP in rotation

This Wild Style Lesson EP is a collection of a mega-mix, some alternate mixes, remixes and even a collection of "scratch tools" made from select movie dialogs and related Wild Style sound effects.  This isn't as corny as I thought it would be, it's actually well-wicked and completely different from the OST.  

Wild Style Lesson EP back cover (zoom in for track listing)

Grandmaster Caz & Chris Stein ‎– Wild Style Theme Rap 1 / Wild Style Subway Rap 12" (Beyongolia) 1998



Grandmaster Caz & Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 12" Front Cover

Grandmaster Caz & Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 12" Back Cover

After synchronizing this Mr Bongo version with the original single on Animal Records it proved that this is essentially the same thing as the original 12" release.  However, to my ears at least, the original sounds much better at 45 RPM.  

Discogs Link: Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 1 / Wild Style Subway Rap 12" (Benongolia) 1998

Wild Style Original Soundtrack CD" (Rhino) 1997

Wild Style OST CD on Rhino Entertainment (back) (zoom for track listing)

There have been other CD versions of this, but really this is the only one that you need in for road trips.  Manufactured at the high quality levels you'd expect from Rhino Entertainment, this disc is official and it sounds nice and loud.  The tracks are unmixed unlike the original LP.

Wild Style 30th Anniversary DVD (Submarine Deluxe) 2013

Wild Style 30th Anniversary DVD (gate fold open) with Booklet

The movie was painstakingly remastered in a labor of love with this nice reissue by Submarine Deluxe.  This comes with 2 Discs including the original movie and extra features including interviews of the cast and crew.  A thorough book of some never before seen photos is a nice addition as well.  Wanna know where they are now?  Put in the second disc.  

Great photos faithfully compiled within this booklet.  (Zoom in for a peek)

Wanna see more iconic photos?  Flip through the book or watch the visual slide show on the first disc.  I've seen the film many times on good old VHS and I don't even have to tell you that this obviously blows that out of the water.  Even if you already have the DVD, hardcore fans of the movie should buy this for the added footage and valuable information within.  I learned a lot from this DVD and book including a lot of interesting back stories.  

What's Missing From the so-called Completionist Collection?

Ok, you got me.  I don't have every single incarnation of the movie and it's soundtracks, EPs or singles.  For example I clearly don't have the white label test pressing.  I have learned to live with that and I suppose I can still die a happy man never even glimpsing it, knowing I at least have the music on vinyl.  

Rare Wild Style Theme Rap Japanese 7"

Also, I don't have the above shown seemingly impossible to find Japanese 7" versions of Wild Style Theme Rap, nor do I have the promo version of this 7" in a plain white sleeve.  

BUT, I do have the 12" version which I am assuming is a longer edit of the same song.  Will I pay an arm and a leg to get this even though I already have the 12"?  Don't tempt me.  I probably would.  Incidentally if you have any leads on these please contact me here by posting on this blog and I'll move heaven and earth if needed to get it.

Not to mention there are other foreign pressings of the Wild Style Soundtrack.  While I consider myself a completionist, I don't feel the desire to get the same music with a simple "Made in France" sticker on it, that's just silly.  True, I got the collector sickness, but there is still a smidgen of common sense ruling my accumulation quirks.  

So other than the test pressing (which won't happen) and the 7" (also, won't happen) I am finally done buying Wild Style records.  It only took me 18 years to feel some sense of finality, but alas, it's finally over.  Unless of course some new-jack label comes along and unearths a hidden chapter of Wild Style that doesn't exist.  In that case I'll probably have to bite on that too.  

DJ Black Steel & The 45 King ‎– 22 Wildstyle Beats 2CD (Music Station) 1995

Picture courtesy of Discogs

As per Discogs, this 2CD has the original DJ Black Steel Wildstyle Breakbeats untouched on disc one and disc two has the breaks mixed, looped, juggled, and extended by the incomparable 45 King.  No doubt an unforgetable mixtape that I'm sleeping on but according to Discogs this has not been sold there so I'm guessing I'll never see this in person either.

But You Forgot About These! (Update)

Since dropping this blog post on DWG Forums a few more omissions were brought to my attention.  Some are promo versions of a few I already have, some have yet to be added to Discogs, and others are just amazing eye candy I cannot justify omitting from this blog post update.  It goes without saying that I'm envious of the owners of these newly discovered holes in my soul.

DJ Black Steel Presents: The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP (Music of Life) (Later Reissue)


Front Cover (Picture courtesy of Benjamin Hatton)
Factory Sticker and Label (Pictures courtesy of Benjamin Hatton)

This later (mid 2000's) reissue on Music of Life is not listed on Discogs.

DJ Black Steel Presents: The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP (Bootleg) (Music Station)


Music Station/Dancefloor Dist./Disc-stinct Bootleg  (Photo courtesy of Manphat)

Apparently this bootleg has "extended versions" of the original original breakbeats.  

Grandmaster Caz & Chris Stein ‎– Wild Style Theme Rap 1 / Wild Style Subway Rap 12" (Beyongolia) 1998 (Signed Test Pressing)


Photo Courtesy of Cro

Signed by Grandmaster Caz! (Photo Courtesy of Cro)

Another Discogs omission...  As if having the test pressing of this isn't cool enough, Cro's copy is signed by the man himself!

What, No Love for the Tapes?

Wild Style Movie (VHS) (Irish)

Photo courtesy of Jesper

Wild Style Movie (VHS) (Pyramid)


Photo Courtesy of Jesper

Then there's the good old VHS release of the movie.  Mine was a generic copy of a copy but luckily Jesper was kind enough to provide a few foreign copies of the movie.  It's something that you take for granted that there are countless variants of the video tape from countries all over the world.  

And the cassettes too, there are numerous versions out there of the cassette that I haven't accounted for.  

Yet more Relics... Posters, Flyers, and original Tickets!

Flyer courtesy of Soul Safari

Original Poster! (photo courtesy of Sureshot La Rock)

Tickets to the filming.  Be there to make history!  Courtesy of Atilladahun

Front of Admissions Ticket (Courtesy of Atilladahun)

It's not enough that they gotta taunt me with autographed test pressings of singles I never knew existed but then they gotta pour lemon juice all over my wounds with original admission tickets to the filming of the movie, movie posters from back in the day and even an original flyer!  These are so cool and historical I certainly can't blame them for pointing these out to a mezo-completionist such as myself.  These are the kind of special pieces that true fans will never get rid of at any price.  So I'll have to live knowing that these are out there and maybe if I am lucky I'll get to touch them some day.  

As per DWG member Beattrooper via private message...

There's 4 more Wildstyle bits out there.

Wildstyle Theme 12" Japan issue from 83' on Toshiba promo only (Thick Sleeve)
Wildstyle Theme 12" UK Test press 83'
Wildstyle Soundtrack vinyl LP with Obi strip and lyric sheet (1995?)
Wildstyle Soundtrack Cassette with obi boxed like a VHS comes with a small booklet of photos again from 83' (this is rarer then the 45!)
I guess I haven't even scratched the surface of this iceberg.  As more of these pieces come to light it's becoming more and more apparent that I'll never get a chance to become a true Wild Style completionist. 


LBNL, Wild Style Comic Book Art

Here's a late but worthy addition... Check out the Wild Style comic book!  Some seriously enlightening reading for Wild Style fanatics. 

Ed Piskor's story behind the Wild Style story.
You can own these limited addition books while supplies last.  Piskor is a hot Hip Hop specialty artist right now and the artwork in these pages is spectacular so who knows how long they'll last.  They are currently available at Fantagraphics Books.

Special Thanks to all the bonus information and pics from DWG members Chris, Sureshot La Rock, Cro, Atilladahun, Manphat, Benjamin Hatton, Jesper, Soul Safari, and Beattrooper and other members there.  Thanks for keeping me on my toes!


Reference: Quick Links To Discogs Wild Style Related Records and CDs


Various - Wild Style Original Soundtrack LP (Animal) 1983

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 12" (Animal) 1983

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 7" (Japanese) (Chysalis) 1983 
Various - Wild Style Original Soundtrack LP (Animal) Unofficial/Bootleg 
Various - Wild Style Soundtrack 2LP (Beyongolia) 1998 
DJ Black Steel - The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP (Music of Life) 1990  

DJ Black Steel - The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP Bootleg (Music Station) 1995

Various - Wild Style Instrumental Beats (Beyongolia) 1998 

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 1 / Wild Style Subway Rap 12" (Benongolia) 1998

Various - Wild Style Lesson EP (Mr Bongo) 2007 
Various - Wild Style CD (Rhino) 1997

DJ Black Steel & The 45 King - 22 Wildstyle Beats 2CD (Music Station) 1995 


Known records missing from Discogs:

DJ Black Steel - The Original Wild Style Breakbeats Album LP (Music of Life) (Factory Stickered Reissue) 

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wild Style Theme Rap 12" (Beyongolia) Test Press

Also allegedly missing from Discogs:

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wildstyle Theme 12" (Japan issue) 1983 on Toshiba promo only

Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein - Wildstyle Theme 12" (UK Test press) 1983

Various - Wildstyle Soundtrack vinyl LP (with Obi strip and lyric sheet) 1995(?)

Various - Wildstyle Soundtrack Cassette (with obi boxed like a VHS comes with a small booklet of photos) 1983

See Also:

Wild Style The Movie 30th Aniversary DVD (Submarine Deluxe) 

DJ Skeme's The Nostoglia King - Wild Style Autographed Poster Blog Post 

Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style Era New York (Interview + Gallery)

An Original Amphitheatre Jam Poster (jpg)

The Big Breakdance Contest  Extra Tidbit:  Some of the B-Boys and B-Girls of "the Big Breakdance Contest" were featured in Wild Style.  Watch their incredible routines in the Big Breakdance Contest on my Youtube Channel.