Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh Snap! Not the Clean Versions!

Related to Elements: DJ, Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Rap, Record Label, Parental Advisory

Don't you hate it when you buy a rap LP online, and when it arrives it has "Clean Version" or "Radio Versions" labeled on it? Most of the time, that really sucks **** (censored). Sometimes, however, it's a blessing in disguise. In fact, if you know what to look for, you'll hunt down certain clean versions that sellers have priced unbelievably low. Many sellers make the incorrect assumption that just because it's clean, it's garbage. In a lot of cases, it really is garbage, but for a few shining exceptions, it's gold.

For example, these two LPs, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek - Reflection Eternal and UGK - Riding Dirty actually have completely different production and extra verses, and the dirty versions are either extremely difficult to find or non-existent in the case of UGK. The vocals were completely rewritten to make the recordings playable on the radio, but they did not compromise the lyrical content. While a lot of record companies take the short-cut to a radio promo by injecting a lot of obnoxious beeper noises, car alarms, police sirens or reversed vocals, these guys flipped the script, and dropped different production altogether. Well played!

Don't sleep on all radio versions, you'll miss some really nice joints by making the false assumption that clean is bad.

Calling out the Diggers:
Help spread the good word on this subject! If you got something worth mentioning, please add on to this incomplete list of radio version LPs worth checking for by commenting on this post! Thanks in advance!


  1. I concur. Some clean LPs have better versions and some 12"s as well. Hip hop artists are generally looking for that radio play as it is free advertising. I know of many clean tracks that sound better than their explicit counterparts. There are also a lot of lazy artists out there that don't put any effort into their clean tracks. They are kind of fun to collect though and since the pimp clean versions are not available on cd or lp, you usually will have to buy 12" singles. Often they have better beats and I enjoy the tracks where the artist made whole new verses for the radio.

  2. Some clean versions do sound better than the album version. But the majority of the time I hate picking up clean versions.

  3. ^I'd agree with that for sure.