Another great interview in this “Digging” series – Jazzy Jay really goes in on the vinyl obsession that some of us record fiends have. Watch your 45s if he drops by your house…(h/t Pipomixes)
New mix from my dude EarDrumz, just back from a trip to the southern hemisphere. All-vinyl dopeness – check for it.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks moving all the Dollabin music onto Bandcamp so it’s more easily accessible. I’ll continue to update and tweak things moving forward.
Here’s one slightly “new” release – many of the instrumentals from “Styles You Can’t Afford” which we dropped in 2009. Enjoy.
There’s this short film about a guy in Pittsburgh who has amassed the largest record collection ever. He calls it “The Archive.” In the movie, he says that the Library of Congress did a study of his collection, and found that for records released between the years 1948 – 1966, only 17% of that music is available on CD.
This guy has over two-million records, so that’s a crazy number. It means 83% of the music in his collection over a span of eighteen years has mostly been forgotten in the digital age. It makes you wonder how much – or little – music from any given year may end up being “timeless,” or how long it takes for a song or album before it becomes forgotten, buried beneath hundreds and thousands of others decades later.
But for us record nerds, there’s a certain kind of excitement too. It means a lot of undiscovered treasure, treasure only available on vinyl. It’s the kind of thing that inspires me to go out next weekend and keep looking through crusty stacks of LPs for some artist or label I’ve never seen before, some obscure b-side I never knew about.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a collector – coins, toys, baseball cards, etc – but records were a way for me to move past being just another obsessive hoarder. The joy of records is playing them – not only for yourself, but especially with others.
For the past five years, I have created and distributed at least one mixtape every single month, via the internets. I did this mainly for two reasons: as a challenge to myself, to do something creative on a consistent basis; and to play all these crazy records I’d been amassing. Records that because of my eclectic taste, I might not be able to fit on one or two mixtapes. Records that you can’t really dance to, or records that I would dance to but most people probably wouldn’t. Records that had important meaning to me but might not fit within cliche definitions of “hip-hop.”
This latest tape carries that theme – I just wanted to play some of my favorite joints plus some classic breaks I don’t usually play, and intersperse a few vocal clips of people talking about why they love records. It kind of floats through various genres and hopefully is a fun sort of compilation of my continuing digging adventures. Shout out to Ani for the photo used on the cover.
When people find out I’m a DJ, they usually ask me where I spin. It’s hard to describe to them that besides an occasional afterparty or random gig, I spent most of my time making obscure mixtapes for an internet audience much bigger than most live shows I’ve played. I want to say thank you to everyone who let me play these kinds of records and bumped these “tapes” over the past five years. One of the reasons I’ve continued making these mixes has been the positive reaction to them, and I feel indebted to everyone who’s stuck around and supported my tapes from the beginning.
I also want to send a huge thank-you and shout-out to all the blogs who have plugged my tapes since 2007, especially Grandgood, CrateKings, and Pipomixes. Additionally, shouts to King Megatrip, JNOTA and ReDefinition Records, Root70Lounge, thisistomorrow, Stephanie Vaughn, DomeShots&FatLaces, TROYBlog, Kevin Nottingham, The RapUp, Heavy Soul Brutha and anyone I’ve forgotten who blogged about my tapes and got the word out.
Further thank-yous to Verb Math, Evolve-One, Brian Burk, Alex Stange, Omega Jackson, Walidah, Dahwud, Jelani, DJ Seek-Ten, DJ Center, DJ Sayeed, Bina, Gabe T, Keyel, Kinetik and Dirty Hairy for coming through with drops on these mixes. Also big shout to Amy Goodman for saying my name on a Democracy Now! show years ago – the best mixtape drop a lefty DJ could ask for.
Finally, I am not putting an end to making mixtapes or new projects – just the monthly series. There will be more tapes, more creations, more experiments. Change is good, and it’s time for something new.
— DJ Ian Head
I love underground, independent hip-hop. I don’t think it gets its proper due. There’s just something about listening to talented, hungry emcees over unpolished beats that you don’t find in much mainstream music. There’s that certain aesthetic, the DIY hustle, that shines through the music. People keep telling me I’ll grow out of it, but it hasn’t happened yet.
In high school I spent a lot of time buying used tapes at one of Portland’s classic record stores, 2nd Avenue Records. Most of the store was vinyl, but they had this old wooden cabinet in the middle of the store and you could pull out these giant, heavy drawers full of cover-less, beat-up tapes for $2 each. I loved digging through those drawers, and sometimes I’d spend my lunch money on some new music. After grabbing a tape or two, I’d occasionally wander over to the hip-hop vinyl section and peak through. But it was a pointless mission since I didn’t have a record player.
However, I was a bit of a computer nerd, and I did have a 2400 baud modem attached to my dad’s PC. Around 1995, I found myself on a “BBS” (google it) message board emailing with a young emcee and producer in Florida who was accumulating heavy amounts of obscure, independent hip-hop vinyl. He volunteered to fill up any blank tape I sent him with the best hip-hop he had, and it was too good of a deal to pass up. I’d send him two tapes at a time, and get them back a month or two later, packed full of all kinds of independent hip-hop, b-sides and remixes. Stuff from all over the country. It was an education, and I can’t thank that dude enough for being so generous. He’s now a fairly well-known producer and emcee in New York, who has worked with many of the artists he dubbed onto those tapes. When I moved to New York in 96, I started hitting Fat Beats, Footwork, and other spots, not just for the latest wax, but also some of those classic joints from those mixes. Over the years I’ve tracked many of them down – but there’s still a few that elude me.
The first mixtape I made for internet distribution in 2007 was collection of 90s independent, underground hip-hop vinyl. Honestly, I don’t have a copy of that mix anymore – I’d looked on old hard drives, CDs, everywhere – I can’t find it. So I thought I’d take it back with a similar theme, and play an hour of independent hip-hop vinyl – it’s not strictly 90s releases, but most of these joints are at least 10 years old (I can’t believe it’s 2012…). A LOT of records got left off this tape – those that made the mix are some favorites and obscurities that hopefully not everyone has heard before. I tried not to play too many records that appear on my past tapes, and I also tried to span the country geographically.
So for the backpacker, underground heads like me that hear this, hopefully you enjoy.
— DJ Ian Head
Download: July 2012 mixtape “Warm Weather”
I had a different idea for this one going into it, but feel pretty good about how it came out. Play it while driving to the beach and pretend it’s 1991.
Pieces of a Dream
Soull II Soul
[figure it out]
Definitely gotten it in this past week on the digging. A week ago, I pulled myself out of bed at 4:45am on a Saturday to stumble to the subway, sleepwalk to New Jersey Transit, and somehow make it on board the SEPTA train to Philly. Like some kind of 90s music video, my train arrived parallel to another train from the Philly suburbs, carrying none other than partner-in-crates Verb Math (aka Dave) and we stepped out onto the platform from adjacent trains like it was all pre-planned. (Only slightly)
Anyway, enough with the play-by-play. Basically, the mutual mission was the Philadelphia Flea Market (There has been a hesitation to reveal locations like this in the past due to the competitive digging aspect, balanced against telling good stories and sharing tales of finding great music. I still battle with it, but for the most part there’s enough to share, especially at these flea markets. If you’re gonna wake up early and spend the time to go in on these records, then you deserve to know about some spots, if that makes sense.), an occasional occurrence I’ve found myself at over the past decade, sometimes with much success, other times with nothing, but still worth a trip out of New York. (At least it always makes you feel like you’re dedicated to this crazy shit!) We weren’t super early, but we made it in time to cop a couple things, check a couple obscure cats. Dave went home with that Headhunters piece he’d been scouting out for awhile, and I took some risks on a couple fusion pieces, along with some $5 jazz records. One piece I picked up that should prove to be a sunny weekend classic:
No cover for my copy, but still well-worth it, along with a couple others I can’t reveal just yet.
Dirty Treats feat. Praverb The Wyse – ‘Original’ / ‘Everything Is Broken’ // 7″ VINYL
My people Dirty Hairy and Ill Treats are dropping some EXCLUSIVE wax, so get your order in! These guys have locked in that jazzy, vintage sound, and are two of the finest doing it. Don’t believe me – preview the cuts at Blunted Astronaut Record’s Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/bluntedastronaut
Some words from Dirty Hairy below.