Monday, January 31, 2011

Odd Shaped Records

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

Ouch that's sharp! Who said that records had to be round? The needle will ride the groove as long as the groove is round. The records can be any shape imaginable as you can see. As far as I know, Pioneering artists Devo started this oddball concept of odd shaped records. Since that time I've collected a few, but I'm sure there's all kinds of odd shaped records I'm unaware of.

As Shown: (starting above)

Devo - Beautiful World
Gangrene - Sawblade EP
DJ Shadow vs. Radiohead - The Gloaming Remix
DJ Shadow vs. Cage - The Grand Ol' Party Crash
Mr. Lif - Santa's Got A Motherf*ckin' Uzi (Great De La Soul Cover!)

This takes picture discs to a whole nutha level!

Calling out the Crate Diggers: Please add on! Mention any other odd shape records you have, and pictures are encouraged!

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's About that Time: Backup Your Digital Mixtapes

Related to Elements: Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Mixtape

"Backup? They're digital CDs, they'll last forever, right?"
When it comes to mixtapes burnt to CD-R, that's a misconception. They degrade quicker then you might expect, depending on the quality of the media, but eventually they will lose their ability to reflect the laser. Inevitably they will stop playing and be nothing more then coasters.

Ever look at an older CD-R and notice it's starting to become transparent? You better copy it to your hard-drive now (if it's not too late) or at least another CD-R else the music on that disc could be lost forever.

Think about that! How many mixtapes do you have that are very dope, and irreplaceable that showcases your favorite DJ's skills, and represent a specific moment in Hip Hop? You'll never get that music back, so back it up before it's too late! I would recommend saving it in .wav format, and storing it on a hard drive that gets backed up as well. With the ever growing size of inexpensive hard drives nowadays, that's not a big deal. There is no sound quality loss with .wav files opposed to mp3 ripping. Of course, you could always copy it to another CD-R but then you are just buying a bit more time, soon you'll have to replace the replacement.

"How long do they last?" There is mixed data on this if you look around, but some sources say 8-15 years depending on the quality of the CD-R product. I've had some mixes that didn't last that long, especially when I accidentally left them in the sun of a hot car. If you think about it, that's not very long at all. Records last indefinitely if stored properly, so maybe mixtapes on wax isn't such a bad idea after all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cut Chemist Mixtapes! Free Official Downloads!

Related to Elements: Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Mixtape

Speaking of Record Hoarders, Cut Chemist not only hoards an insane collection of wax, he also mixes them and serves them up for free on his Sound Cloud account! Here are his two latest short n' sweet mixes, Hip Hop Lives and Disco is Dead. As you might expect, these are not only diverse mixes but they surprisingly have a few recognizable hits too. But, just like Levar Burton always says on Reading Rainbow, "You don't have to take my word for it!" Listen and hear it for yourself!

Latest tracks by Cut Chemist

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confessions of a Beat Junkies Junkie

Related to Elements: Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Mixtape

For those that don't know the Beat Junkies, it's time to wake up and smell some of the nicest mixtapes in the mixtape game. J-Rocc, the 'funky president' of the Beat Junkies has been named "the worlds best DJ" by several sources, one of which is out of NYC. I agree with that assessment, he really is the worlds best DJ. Besides that distinction, he has the honor of enlisting, firing, touring with, and collaborating with other Beat Junkies in his crew. Current members Rhettmatic, Babu, Melo-D, DJ What?!, Mr. Choc, and Shortkut each have their own distinct skill-set they bring to the (turn)table. Besides turntable composition, these trueschoolers have been blowing up DMC competitions, dropping countless mixtapes, individual productions for crews, remixes... you name it, this crew did it.

I have been trying to keep up with their countless CD mixtapes, but lets face it, they drop so much so often, I can't possibly collect the whole discography of unofficial releases. But so help me God, I will try!

World Famous Beat Junkies vol 1 Babu
World Famous Beat Junkiesvol 1 Babu (w/ bonus disc)
World Famous Beat Junkiesvol 2 Rhettmatic
World Famous Beat Junkiesvol 3 Melo D
Babu: Duck Season vol 1
Babu: Duck Season vol 2
Babu: feat Rakka Expansion Team Soundsystem 1
Babu: feat Rakka Expansion Team Soundsystem 2
Curse: Real Classic Material
Classic Material
Flashin' to the Beat Junkies
Icy Ice: Soul Elevation Mixtape
Icy Ice:KDAY Classic Mix
Melo D: KDAY Vol.1
Melo D: Classic Material
Melo D: Classic Material Alternate Mix
Melo D: Scion CD Sampler
Melo D: The AM Workshop
Melo D: Live at the Root Down
Melo D: Turnfable
Rhettmatic: Live at the Root Down
Rhettmatic: The Wedding Mixer
Rhettmatic: Exclusive Collection
Rhettmatic and Shortkut: On the Road Again
Rhettmatic and Key Kool-Kozmonautz
Shortkut: Bashment Vibes
Shortkut: Blunted with a Beat Junkie
Shortkut: Kuts Foundation
D-Styles: Phantazmagorea
D-Styles and DJ Flare: Pharoahs of Funk
What?: Dancehall Session Mix 2
What?: Dancehall Session Mix 3
J-Rocc: Cooking Ingredients
J-Rocc: James Brown and Friends
J-Rocc: James Brown and Friends 2
J-Rocc: Walkman Rotation
J-Rocc: Syndromes Remix
J-Rocc: Syndromes Remix 2
J-Rocc: The Sex Machine Today
J-Rocc: The Sex Machine Today (reissue)
J-Rocc: Now that’s what I call Hip Hop vol 1
J-Rocc: Now that’s what I call Hip Hop vol 2
J-Rocc: Now that’s what I call Hip Hop vol 3
J-Rocc: Tasters Choice Disc 1
J-Rocc: Tasters Choice Disc 2
J-Rocc: Tasters Choice Disc 3
J-Rocc: Tasters Choice Disc 5
J-Rocc: Thank You Dilla V. 1
J-Rocc: Thank You Dilla V. 2
J-Rocc: Yo 45 Raps Vol 2

That's what I've managed to collect so far, but as you can see there are holes that need to be filled in. That's where I hope you come in.

Fellow Beat Junkie Fans: Please share your knowledge and mention on this thread any missing mixtapes dropped by the Beat Junkies, so I and other Beat Junkie Fans can have a more complete discography of their collective work. Thanks in advance!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Got Tapes? Soul Condor's Tape Hoard

Related to Elements: Underground Hip Hop, Golden Age, Old School, Crate Digging, Rap, Record Label, Mixtape

The only time the word "hoard" is a good thing, is when it's done with class by passionate music collectors. Fellow cratedigger and Diggers With Gratitude staple Soul Condor knows rap tapes. Unlike a lot of cats like myself who regrettably abandoned 'the other vintage analog format', he's got an ever-growing collection of classic mixtapes and original Golden Age and Old School cassettes.

Frankly, I don't really need to say more then that. This is one of those posts where I can sit back and let the pictures do the talking for me.

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!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kool Herc's Autograph

Related to Elements: DJ, Block Party, Old School, Breaks

There is only one signature that graces my man cave, and that's my cherished Kool Herc autograph. I built this rickety looking frame around it because at the very least with the Plexiglas cover it gets a little protection from the damp basement its hung in. It really deserves a better frame, and a safer spot, but I'm hoping its presence by my decks will make me a better DJ then carpenter. Knock on wood!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early 80s Hip Hop Slang, for the Uninitiated

(click pic to zoom in on the Hip Hop Glossary)

Related to Elements: Slang, Old School, B-Boying,
There is only one good reason anyone should buy K-Tel Record's corny vinyl compilation "Breakdance" and that's for the equally corny (but in a good way) poster. While the vinyl may have a few easy to find, nostalgic classics on it, it's pretty worthless for dropping a needle on it.

The poster, on the other hand, not only features the legendary New York City Breakers posing in various phases of B-Boying classic moves, but it also comes complete with step-by-step instructions, and a special warning about the health hazards associated with "Breakdancing"

Really, who's gonna go see a medical specialist before performing the wave, just to be on the safe side?

(click image for larger pic)

Side thought: That reminds me, I remember when my mom said I could never breakdance or I'd break my neck like 'that one guy' did when he attempted a head spin. (I never did find out who that one guy who broke his neck was, by the way.)

Anyway, the best feature of this poster is it's Hip Hop Glossary. Keep in mind, when this LP was made, Hip Hop was so new and it was all the rage. Even football players and TV cartoons were jumping on board the Hip Hop bandwagon. All this Hip Hop vocab must have been very confusing to the outsiders trying to make sense of all the new jargon. Well, lucky for the uninitiated, K-Tel had their backs covered.

Except for misspelling "Diss", I think they did a very amusing job. Notice some of the dead slang that's defined.


(Courtesy of the K-Tel Records Poster which accompanies the LP "Breakdance")

BITE - (verb) to copy, duplicate or reproduce without consent; to steal ideas from others.
Ex: “We were doing those steps way before them. They must have bit our moves.”

CHILL – (verb) to chill, chillout, chillin’, the act of calming down, keeping under control, staying cool.
Ex: “Yo, chill out!” “I’m just chillin’!”

CRITICAL – (adjective) describes an action poorly done, a state of poor condition.
Ex: “His graffiti piece was all critical, looked like a chimpanzee did it. He Breaks all critical.”

DIS – (verb) to disrespect another person, to show no respect or regard for another person’s feelings or property.
Ex: “When you talked about my girl, you really dissed me man.”

DOG – (verb) to overuse, abuse, spoil through excess.
Ex: “He dogged his sneakers. They were all critical looking.”

FRESH – (adjective) the hippest, the newest, the most together and unique. On time, well conceived and executed. Beautiful, aesthetically pleasing.
Ex: “The new Mercedes compact is fresh!” “I want that record with the fresh beats!”

FRONT-FRONTING – (verb) to be irresponsible, to not show up, to break a promise.
Ex: “I was supposed to meet her here at 8:00, but it looks like she’s fronting on me.”

HOMEBOY, HOMEGIRL – (pronoun, noun) comrade, companion, guys and girls from the neighborhood.
Ex: “Yo man, let him in. He’s one of my homeboys.”

JERK – (verb) to cheat, or to fool someone.
Ex: “He told me 50%, but I only got 10; I got jerked.”

MAX OUT – (verb) a friendly term for parting with ease or saying goodbye.
Ex: “Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow. Yo, Max Out.”

RUN – (verb) to repeat in excess, to be redundant, to use over and over.
Ex: “That song was all right until they started running it.”

SQUIGGLEY – (adjective) nerdy, unhip or unattractive.
Ex: “I don’t want to go out with that girl, she’s too squiggley.”

TRACK – (noun) freeze move in which breaker ends in a bridge with stomach up, supported by the hands and feet.

UPROCK – (noun) dueling dance between 2 breakdancers, where the dancers mimic fighting and score points by getting non-contact blows or hits in his first.

WACK – (adjective) describes something poorly done or in bad taste, awkward, clumsy, offbeat.
Ex: “That break move was wack!” “He’s the wackest DJ I know.”

WORD – (noun) an affirmation, a term to acknowledge or support a statement.
Ex: “That girl is fine. Word. Do you want to be the best? Word, you know it!”

I think some of those phrases are long overdue for a comeback. For example, "Max Out". Why don't people go around saying, "Yo! Don't get critical on me, squiggley homegirl! I'm maxin' out right now! " That's a real loss when Hip Hop rejected those words in time, but I guess that's just the way it goes.

Regardless, this LP has been out of print for a long time, so if you do find it used, make sure the poster is in the sleeve before purchasing it, this piece of history is well worth the sacrifice of buying a terrible record.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Samples Revealed 1: Ghostface's Production Team Digs Numero Group Records

Related to Elements: Sampling, Underground Hip Hop, Crate Digging, Rap, Boom Bap, Dope

For those of you who listened to the latest Ghostface Killah album "Apollo Kids" you already know how insanely good it is. Talk about a breath of fresh air! This caliber of slamin' boom bap production built on top of out-of-this-world soul music samples is hard to come by nowadays. Frankly, I haven't been this excited about a Hip Hop album in a long time. I'd call it a must-own album for all Ghostface Fans. But for those who heard this album, you already know that. "Gimmie something I can use, right?"

What you may not know is that the fairly unknown producer (not for long) Frank Dukes, and alumni of beats Sean C & LV tapped the vast recordings of Numero Group Records to obtain some of the nicest soul samples around. Point blank, Numero Group drops some of the best soul compilations on the planet. They are as legit as it comes with quality pressings, deluxe gatefold packaging, information galore, and on top of all that they pay the original artists for all these forgotten recordings.

For example, Track 1: Purified Thoughts, Produced by Dukes, samples track 1 off of Numero's Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label; Them Two - Am I a Good Man

Track 4: Drama, Produced by Sean C & LV, samples track B4 off of Numero's Good God: A Gospel Funk Hymnal; Trevor Dandy - Is There Any Love

Listen to Ghostface Snippets: Links Below. (Less then a minute snippets of each Ghostface song and sampled song mixed) Spoiler: Parental Advisory on the second track!

Ghostface w/ Them Two sample
(Original sample starts at the 36 second mark)

Ghostface w/ Trevor Dandy sample
(Original sample starts at the 18 second mark)

ALSO you can listen to or download them here:

Ghostface w/ Them Two sample (Original sample starts at the 36 second mark)

Ghostface w/ Trevor Dandy sample (Original sample starts at the 18 second mark)

I hope to see much more Numero samples gracing the beats of Hip Hop in the near future, it's a quality marriage.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Record Photography: Records In Motion

Related to Elements: DJ, Crate Digging, 12" Single, Record Label

I'm a DJ, not by trade but by hobby. There's only one valid reason I'm a DJ; I love music. I love ALL music of all formats, but particularly I love records. I love listening to records, I love digging for records (in store or online), I love scratching records, I love juggling records, I love mixing records, I love their smell, I love their individual quirks and flaws, I love photographing records and I even love looking at pictures of records.

Let's go back to the 'digging for records' part of that last long sentence; online crate digging to be exact.

Question 1: Have you ever been to an online record store that didn't have a picture of the record they were selling?

Question 2: Did the record seem 'real' to you without a picture?

Question 3: Do stock pictures of records really tell you about the specific record you are buying?

My Answers:

1: Many times, honestly, it's a buzz kill and it removes the fun of digging altogether.

2. Sometimes it seemed real depending on the seller, but more often it seemed more like words on a page. An empty hollow promise from a stranger that you will get a record if you buy it. The reality of it is it might not be the record you imagine in your head.

3. If you know the record you are buying is sealed, it doesn't really matter if the photo is stock or not, but stock photos are absolutely worthless as a visual indicator of cover condition when you are buying used records.

Here's a question for the crate diggers... Have you ever been to an online store that had pictures of the records in action? Have you ever seen the product pic that doesn't actually look like a product pic? Can't record sellers try to stand out a little bit from the cookie-cutter style of record photography that shows a one-dimensional view of the cover only?

I say yes, they definitely can do better. In fact, I think they might sell more records if they take thought out pictures that look like submissions from a fan of the music rather then an online seller trying to push wax.

I know what a lot of sellers reading this are probably saying to themselves, "Yeah, they look great, but that's not practical to take pictures like that for all of our records. It would take too much time, energy and resources to do so."

^Absolutely, that's true, it would not only be unpractical to do that for all records but it would be a waste of time for the wack wax that they are just trying to get out the store.

I'm not gonna front, I'm not a record salesman, I'm a record collector, and as a fan I love to do this in my own time just to share these photos with fellow cratediggers. However, I do think that for the really great records, it would be not only beneficial to take thoughtful action photos for the crate diggers, it would also remind them that the record seller is like them, a true fan, that started this business because, like their customers, they love records.

Bottom Line:
Anyone can scan records with a scanner, or take quick photos of a cover in a photo box, or use stock photos, it takes no skill, no time, and frankly, no thought whatsoever. Diggers are not impressed with any of that. If there are any online record sellers reading this, I'm asking you to step up your game and take the time to display your records visually the way they intend to be used. Remind your buyers that you love wax too, and show off your special records using a little bit of creativity. I think you'll have more intrigued diggers coming back more often if you prove that you are a fan too.

All Things Hip Hop - 1st Blog Dropped

Welcome heads! This first blog post is gonna be short n' sweet and right to the point...

We love Hip Hop, but it is a behemoth! There is so much going on in the world of Hip Hop nowadays, way more then what can be discussed on our parent site: So here it is (the groove slightly transformed). Instead of going into long unnecessary details telling you what it is we want to accomplish for our readers, let's just get to the meat and potatoes and drop our first real blog post.

"We came here to get things started."