Revenge of the (Rap Record) Nerds
Friday December 03rd 2004,
Filed under: Features
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The rise of the Rap Record Nerd has, not coincidentally, coincided with the invent of the “online shopping revolution” (aka Ebay). While it’s by no means a new phenomenon, it’s far more widespread than I had initially realized. Before the internet age you’d find poorly-dressed weirdos skulking around record fairs and second-hand music shops, armed with nothing more than a fax of the latest record prices from Japan. Knowledge of rare vinyl was a closely guarded secret, shared only with a select few, and many pieces on their wants list were near unobtainable. Travelling to other cities and countries was the most effective way to find those rare platters, unless they bought a retiring deejays collection. What many of these characters lacked in social skills, hygiene and attractiveness to women, they made up for in misguided dedication and pointless elitism.

As the world of wax opened up, so marked the rise of the cyber herb, and before long a willing credit card became all that was necessary to join this growing army of music geeks. Kids were blowing the lid on previously little known releases through their websites and message boards, and after the initial wave DITC/Hieroglyphics/Juice Crew collecting madness subsided, new trends quickly emerged. A good recent example is the explosion of late ’80’s “random rap”, which can be attributed to a number of causes, but primarily resulted from DJ Ivory’s Hear No Evil and Edan’s Fast Rap mix CD’s. The flames were further fanned by Dave Thompkins amazing Paul C article in Grand Slam magazine, and I’m sure that the recently released Freddy Fresh book will push the insanity to new heights, as any record that was rated with two or more stars suddenly triples in price – which will no doubt result in some poor sap coughing up $50 for a Dismasters single which isn’t “Small Time Hustler”.

In much the same way as a dollar bin break suddenly become $100 collector’s pieces after the hip hop producer of the moment flips it into a hit record, late ’80’s classics that were reasonably priced for years have now hit the roof. The real loser in this is the DJ who’s trying to pick up the 12″ they’ve been trying to track down for years to rock their next set, only to find themselves outbid by some lifeless geek who plays the record once (or even worse, leaves it sealed), marks off their list and puts onto the shelf. Not that you HAVE to be an active deejay to be deemed “worthy” to buy records, but some of these kids need to go back to collecting stamps, comic books, and Stars Wars action figures (not that there’s anything wrong with that, Biz!).

But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line from “avid rap fan” to “angry loner” status? Here’s a quick test.

Do you:

1. Cop records that you don’t actually like just because you consider them “collectable”?

2. Refuse to have any vinyl in your collection that isn’t a test-press, acetate or promo-only release?

3. Own every indy record stocked by Beat Street from between 1995 and 1998?

4. Keep records sealed, even when you don’t own doubles and don’t have the song on tape?

5. Buy everything Paul C ever had a hand in, but wouldn’t know a Ced Gee or 45 King production if smacked you in the face?

6. Get doubles of original pressings of break beats, but only own one turntable?

7. Recite Tuff City catalogue numbers at will, but don’t know the words to “Times Up”?

8. Think that everything released after 1989 is “wack”, but didn’t start listening to hip hop until 1999?

9. Never go to live hip hop shows or clubs, because you dress look like a wino and wouldn’t make it past security?

10. Think anybody actually gives shit about your collection, since you don’t have a radio show, make mix tapes or play them in public?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, then please take a long, hard look in the mirror. And buy a decent pair of Nikes, ya bum!

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18 Comments so far
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A good point, well made.

Comment by A J Raffles 12.04.04 @


No lie, I was drafting a post about hip-hop nerds when I saw this.

Comment by Hashim 12.05.04 @


Comment by brian_cant 12.07.04 @

Excellent article.

However, I’ve realized the only people who read hip-hop related blogs are the afforementioned record nerds.

I should take a shower now.

Comment by Scott 12.09.04 @

Good point Scott. People who WRITE hip hop blogs are generally even more pathetic.

Comment by Robbie 12.09.04 @

Ha ha very true.. in fact i have come to the conclusion that most of these nerds are Japanese or German. The second phase is then to create a poorly designed website detailing your wants list followed by loads of pictures of scans of obscure records which only sold a few at the time as they were crap – if only the artists now got some of the royalties now they would be millionaires instead of trying to make ends meet on welfare …

Comment by Mark 12.09.04 @

Pretty dumb remarks, only few so called record nerds were in their teens when those random rap records came out, most of them people weren’t even born. To many people these 12″‘s sound fresh and exciting and are worth to chase down. It’s hard not to get a record-boner after hearing the Sloppy White tape, so seeking out the actual wax seems like a normal reaction.

“8. Think that everything released after 1989 is “wack”, but didn’t start listening to hip hop until 1999?” Some horrible records came out in ’97-’02 (Dilated etc.) How are you going to understand the present if you don’t know the past ? But valid points were made aswell.

Comment by Willski 12.10.04 @

Yeah I put some stupid shit in there for the sake of some cheap laughs, but since this isn’t “serious journalism” I wouldn’t worry too much.

I would rather young dudes were checking for “Knock ‘Em Out Sugar Ray” than some horrible Dilated or Talib Kweli record, but some kids just take it way too far.

Comment by Robbie 12.10.04 @

Always remember it’s all about the music…im tired of these newjack’s on certain website’s just talking about promos,test pressing’s & fucking run-out grooves!? tell me what samples were used to make “years to build” by “360 degrees” then i’ll be impressed!
Dont forget about the music cos back in the day “kool herc” didnt give a fuck about an “src” stamp…



Comment by The Beat Detective 12.12.04 @

The problem is kids ticking the boxes for $300 for records they’ve never heard, when they could spend $3 and get a hot new 12″by Outkast, Dilated, UN, whoever. Maybe they’ll get around to those artists in 12 years and we can all cash in then!

Comment by Drew Huge 12.13.04 @

dilated suck , and only the first three outkast albums were worth listening to, but yeah you do get kids paying shit loads for records they’ve never heard. i’ll pay a bit for steady b record , but you can garantee that i’ll rock it at the next party i play at.

Comment by tommy 12.14.04 @

You forgot number 11:

“11. Keep a copy of the ‘global wants’ list, as made popular by collectors websites. This list includes various ‘gems’ that don’t exist and a ton of late ’80’s 12″s that sound like retards chewing broken glass.
This list can often be found on messageboards globally.”

Other than that, you were spot on.
I’m making a hitlist of people on eBay that are paying insane prices for complete toss. I’ll post it up soon.

Comment by Alvin FUCK 12.14.04 @

int’net diggin’ definitely sucks

Comment by chomski 12.30.04 @

Bloody hell, there’s a few familiar names here, well I hope your’e all happy with yourselves that I thought I was Mr hardcore Down By Law I’m so Fresh My Nan’s got a 4 finger ring and once got back scuttled round the back of woolleys by Kool G rap, followed by Moe Luv & pissin’ Paul C, and thought I knew all the decent internet sites for talkin bollocks about hip hop, and then there’s Sure Shot! Well, nice article and I do agree, cos I got mouths to feed and rent to pay and ain’t bought tunes for sodding ages, and when I see nobheads buying 360 degrees for a Kings Ransom instead of Ego Trippin as a reissue for a few quid and actually learning something, I mean I didn’t even know I rekon 5% of all the stuff in the Freddy Fresh book, and only about 4 cuts on either of the Ivory CDs, b ut I sure as shit stinks was Poppin’ in Basingstoke town centre in 1982, and had a fucking good cry pissed up on brandy with me mates stroking Grandmaster Caz’s legs at Fresh ’97, so some 20 year old twat might have the rarest 12 but you’ll never collect the memories of th 100s of jams I attended throughout the 80s and 90s, and their mum didn’t stop them from going to UK Fresh ’86 cos they thought they were gonna get their dinner money pinched, so fuck off and live hip hop, not look at it like it’s in a goldfish bowl u rich no culture knowing cunts. To the rest of you, P E A C E!!! Portsmouth represent!!!

Comment by Waxer 01.03.05 @

I agree with just about the whole post except 2 anomalies within.
1)Researching hip hop culture is like being an art historian, (but youre right about the kids who dont even open them)
And I resent the comment about thinking all hip hop after 89 sucks, it’s actually all hip hop after 94 sucks (check a few select underground artists)
Oh and what does Robbie have against Talib Kweli? He’s one of the only decent artists out there (what do you think is hip hop, will smith and mace?)
2) the last comment, man nikes are shoddy, and made in sweat shops (how can you live with yourself knowing YOU got pimped by a company that dished out a fat 35 cents for the kicks you payes $150 for?) Get some decent addidas bro

Comment by Stoney 01.04.05 @


Comment by 1981bboy 05.05.05 @

Incredibly scathing drop from over two years ago!

I was trolling the internets to find an image to front my piece on the 50 incredible rap songs that OW is hosting. I titled the piece ‘Rap Nerds Unite!’ and my Google search for rap nerd pulled up this image.

All of this now requires a post on the fact that there are billions of people on the planet but only a few have their brains tuned into the same frequency.

Comment by Dallas 02.17.07 @

I just got 360 Degrees – Years to build (test press / reissue)

The only reason I got this is cuz I can’t afford $800 for the original….lol

Comment by NewJackRichie 04.07.09 @

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