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.
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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