Caught this video on Cratekings.com about a secret (or really not so secret anymore) thrift shop in Brooklyn with a shiteload of vinyl hidden in its basement.
Which got me to thinking about when the last time was that I bought vinyl. You know what, it’s been a minute. Last time I can really remember scoring was in late August of 2006, I happened to be down in Tampa, Florida for a few days and ended up in some hick flea market where it seemed like every booth was selling guns… and there weren’t even any rappers in sight. But there was a small record store in there, and because well, let’s be honest here, the demographic that shopped in this store was clearly not into any form of black music, there were countless great records available for dirt cheap prices. I ended up buying about a hundred records. I rarely buy that many records at one time.
I might have bought a few pieces of vinyl at a street fair or something since that time, but really, I find myself searching for stuff online a lot more now. It’s just more cost effective, because these record stores in New York charge up the ass for even the shittiest of shit records. It’s the newjack diggers, the ones who just started shopping for vinyl and wanna buy every record that Pete Rock or Premier ever sampled that fucks shit up for the rest of us. So now you’ve got places like Sound Library charging 30 dollars for some crap you can find in a dollar bin elsewhere, because some of their clientele is just that stupid. And that’s not to dis Sound Library, because I’ve bought records there before (maybe I’m the stupid one, seriously). Just sometimes I see these prices on vinyl that I already own, shit that I’ve copped for 50 cents somewhere else, and I’m like damn some fool is gonna part with his bread because he’s just too dumb and too lazy to look for it cheaper elsewhere.
Still, now what I find myself doing is going to a record store, going through vinyl, listening to records on the store’s turntables, and then noting down whether or not I like something before keeping it moving. Then I head home and try to find that same shit online. I know what you’re thinking, that whole process is pretty bitch made. You know what, it is. But so is the mark-up on the record itself. Sometimes I’d spend 25-30 dollars on a single record. Fuck that. If I can get it for free now, I will. Sure I lose out on the sound quality of the vinyl, and finding MP3s with good quality is tough, but at the same time a lot of my vinyl purchases are made just to be listened to, not even for sampling purposes, so to listen to an MP3 these days is not the worst thing in the world.
I wonder what the value of someone like a Pete Rock, Premier, Digging In The Crates Crew, or the Beatnuts might have been back in the day had the internet and digital music been around. I’m a huge fan of all these folks, and I’ve always been a bigger fan of sample-heavy hip-hop, but to me it seems like back then a producer’s value had a lot to do with just how crazy of a record collection they had. Meaning, did they have the hot records to sample. To a sample-based producer, great source material is their most valuable asset. But now a lot of this source material is available to everyone, so doesn’t that sort of change the dynamic of things? Additionally, is that a reason why a record produced one of the aforementioned producers (or one of their contemporaries) means less to people now than it did back then?
Has e-digging leveraged the act of digging in the crates just like the rise of digital music retailers like itunes and amazon leveraged traditional brick and mortar music stores? Like, if you’re a kid coming up and just getting into making tracks, will you ever actually make it to a record store at some point in your life and buy a piece of vinyl, or will your whole realm of thought be stuck in the digital world where you are so used to finding samples online that the idea of copping vinyl would be pointless?