Where’d The Rap Records Go?
Friday October 30th 2009,
Filed under: The Unkut Opinion
Written by:

So it’s that time of year again, when I try to remember all the albums that I listened to more than once and didn’t hate so that I can order them on vinyl…thing is, this year it seems like no one bothered to actually release anything on 33 1/3. As you’d expect, Year Round supported the Blaq Poet release with both vocal and instrumental versions, and the latest MF Doom DOOM project is available in 2LP format, but what else? The only other good long player that I can cop on wax is Double Barrel. That new Raekwon? M.O.P? Big Twins? Cormega? Chamber Music? Sorry pal, no dice.

While I can appreciate that Serato/Final Scratch is key in reducing lower back problems and hernia’s cause by carting over-stuffed record crates up flights of stairs, it appears to have well and truly been the final nail in the proverbial coffin for hip-hop vinyl. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really place any value in owning original CD’s. Considering that all of my compact discs have been picked-up second hand or sent to me for review purposes back when record labels and their distributors actually had a promotional budget, there haven’t been many occasions when I’ve been happy to drop $15 on a potential beer coaster. The same thing applied when you could buy new albums on tape – sure, it was convenient to be able to pop it straight into your Walkman for the train ride home, but considering you could tape that same LP onto a better quality chrome or metal tape yourself, it was also a huge waste of money.

It’s one thing to download every new release for ‘previewing purposes’, but when it comes down to supporting the finest of this years releases at the cash register, is it wrong that I want something that I can’t just make myself? Something that can be stored away for future listening sessions or to play to a crowd. Something that won’t get lost down the back of the couch or covered in finger-prints. As much as I enjoy the limited-edition exclusives that Diggers With Gratitude, Vinyl Addicts, Freestyle Records and One Leg Up are dropping, is it too much to ask that I can purchase more than five decent rap albums released this year on vinyl for under $20 each? Apparently so. Maybe it’s time to get into the bootlegging game….

Do You Care That Hardly Anybody Releases Rap Vinyl Anymore?

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51 Comments so far
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yeh, ive been thinking that shit for awhile now. i really dont like buying cds but i still want to support the artists and have a copy of their album but if i cant get it on vinyl most of the time i dont buy the cd.
is it really that expensive to press up vinyl?
seems like a pretty solid way of making more money even if its not as much as cds.

Comment by pete 10.30.09 @

It sucks that they don’t put out vinyl as much anymore, but I won’t be losing sleep over it. The costs are too high and it’s a niche item these days, what are you gonna do. If anything released this year or next ends up being relevant, important, or popular a couple years after its relase, then I could see that release getting the vinyl treatment later on, but I think the days of unproven released getting vinyl from the gate are over

Comment by thrillhouse 10.30.09 @

I forgot to add that it would work as a merchandise “bundle” for the right artist. Like, buy the LP, get the mp3 download for free and a t-shirt, all as a package. The problem is these guys don’t have fans like that. Maybe Tech Nine or dudes like that who can tour the whole country, but not your average NY rapper whose shit is only available at Fatbeats and ughh.com

Comment by thrillhouse 10.30.09 @

As much as i hated to do it,this why i made that switch to Serato a while back..If they was putting out vinyl like b/4 i wouldn’t huv done it

Comment by dj blendz 10.30.09 @

I don’t know – you are complaining about vinyl missing, but to me the bigger problem is all those emusic/itunes/digital/download only projects… I don’t think we’ll get vinyl back and it seems that they don’t even wanna press CDs anymore… I’ve been buying CDs like crazy, BUT I’ll stop messing with music when it’s digital only – I’ve missed quite a few dope ones already because of that, but when they quit doing physical products some day then I’m out of it for good

Comment by Blanco 10.30.09 @

I’ve been thinkin’ about this a bit recently since i’m tryna put together a best singles of the noughties list, and i’ve worked out that everything was sweet up until 2006 with more or less every single in the list coming out as an actual 12″, but after that they come in dribs and drabs until this year when the only song i like to get released on a 12″ is De La’s version of Excursions, which is on the EP of the highlights from J Period’s Q. Tip mixtape.

There is an upside to the near-death of wax, though : the rise of the Youtube/WSHH ‘hood video single, best typified by Prodigy’s plethora of vids for songs from Return Of The Mac and HNIC 2. I always used to wish this song or that song had been granted a video and nowadays they invariably are.

Wax for videos is a trade i’m willing to gladly make at this point.

Comment by MF 10.30.09 @

word.it’s a effin shame that the few good albums (you named most)of this year aren’t available on wax.and as long the cd’s aren’t on sale (15 euros…
they must be kiddin)i keep downloading.a lot.

Comment by swordfish 10.30.09 @

As a straight up Dj i feel you on this man, it sucks that pretty much ALL the new joints dont come out on vinyl.

Or if they do they are too expensive for a lot of record shops to get in cos of v.low profit margins.

I also think that the lack of decent new ish and the increase of utter shite has become about because its much easier to upload ur joint rather than to take the risk and have the self belief to actually press up a record.
No doubt its a pretty brave move financially for a new unknown artist to press a 12 or lp nowadays.

Comment by tareq 10.30.09 @

i agree 1000%. i don’t see no appeal in buying a cd, i can burn one myself and even download and print the booklet. vinyl on the other hand is a collector’s item by the book. i’m kinda surprised that all these rap records aren’t coming out on vinyl because from what i’ve heard, vinyl is making a big comeback in the indie and even mainstream rock scenes. labels releasing limited 7″ editions, LP’s with photo books in them, etc.
it’s time for “street rap” record labels to step up their game.

Comment by spotrusherz 10.30.09 @


its very expensive to do small runs of vinyl. if you get into the thousands it becomes more viable but if dudes like m.o.p are getting the sales reported on here with cd’s they arent going to be keen to press up vinyl by the thousand. If more people bought the cds maybe labels would be willing to cut a loss on the wax.

Comment by gx 10.30.09 @

@pete – I wouldn’t be surprised if, at this point, MOP might’ve actually sold more vinyl than CDs… Ok, maybe not. But there seems to be a decent chunk of people who’d buy vinyl of something like that but who’d pass on the CD.

Comment by Werner von Wallenrod 10.30.09 @

Vinyl is dying. Tragic !

Comment by Arno 10.30.09 @

it’s sad that album cover designers aren’t really in demand any more. i made the switch to serato a few years ago and stopped buying records instantly, even though i said i wouldn’t.

i kind of miss digging, but damn, it’s a lot easier to find an mp3 than a record store treasure, even the deep old tracks.

Comment by gretchen 10.30.09 @

Strange thing is that while vinyl is thinning out in Hip-Hop, it’s growing in other genres. I can get reissues of pretty much any notable jazz, soul, funk, or even early Hip-Hop LP.

BTW: Jake One came out on vinyl, along with an MP3 download. I don’t remember if that was a 2008 or 2009 release though; it’s definitely been in my full rotation crate. K-Def’s “Beats from the 90s Pt. 2,” Primo’s “Beats that Collected Dust,” and that El-Michael’s Wu-Tang joint were on vinyl. Eh, not Hip-Hop but Mayer Hawthrone made it to vinyl. I know I bought a few other Hip-Hop LPs on wax this year but can’t really remember which.

Seems like Baby Grande does not press any vinyl. What’s also wack is some vinyl releases come out a month later than the CD (Blaq Poet and Doom were like this).

Anyway, yeah — if it’s not on vinyl it doesn’t matter. I got CDs but they’re rarely played. It’s not the same having a CD spinning beside me as a piece of wax. I even setup a dedicated listening deck in addition to my DJ setup. I’ve recently been investing in higher end cartridges and tweaking my setup to perfection, just like any middle-aged white vinyl collector with no social life should.

Comment by haroon 10.30.09 @

Mega is coming out on vinyl in the near future from what I hear

Comment by BurDenDEr 10.30.09 @

“I wouldn’t be surprised if, at this point, MOP might’ve actually sold more vinyl than CDs…”

Agreed. Labels seem to have turned their back on fans who have vinyl collections in favor of chasing an internet-raised generation who’ll never pay for music and squeezing the last drips out of the CD market.

And there are indie rock acts with far lower profiles and on far smaller labels than MOP who seem to have no problem pressing up vinyl.

Comment by PM 10.30.09 @

Just did a bit of cratedigging in some local shops and came out with about 50 % Vinyl 50% CD’s (nothing new, all old stuff) Whilst I prefer Vinyl, I’ve never been anti CD like a lot of people and to be honest, If I’m spending money I’d rather have SOMETHING physical than an MP3.

Comment by cratedigga78 10.30.09 @

Buying something on wax is the ultimate accolade, I like you Robbie have never placed any value on CD’s. The only ones I’ve bought have been mixes, that make no sense to own on vinyl. But I have to say, I can’t really seeing myself dusting off and playing anything at a dinner party, that’s come out over the last…decade. Not because I’m a hater, but nothing has really grabbed me enough to go past typing ‘.rar’ into google.

Comment by farns 10.30.09 @

Rap fans who are anti-cd and, indeed, tape are morons since so much of the real history of the genre beyond your NY rap from ’86 – ’97 only exists on those formats.

Comment by MF 10.30.09 @

There are so many other types of music that have been, and are continuing, to increase vinyl production. There are a ton of stores in the US that are now offering vinyl. Yet, the one music form that has kept it alive all this time, is outright abandoning it. It really makes no sense that vinyl sales are going up, while hip-hop vinyl production is going down. Not all vinyl buyers are dj’s, so I assume there is some mini-market for lp’s and 12″ singles out there.

Comment by HipHopHistorian 10.30.09 @

yeah i don’t even buy cds unless i see something that is super hard to find on the net or on wax, wax is the way to go for those keepers and gems that will never get old, its crazy that most of these artists don’t realize that they will sell more units if they put out the wax since the real ‘heads will buy their shit, cds are just going to get burned and uploaded to the net anyways, they gotta go purely digital and vinyl if they wanna get real sales numbers and less piracy (less so of course with the digital releases unless its itunes, amazon and the like), of course i guess there are still those occasional cd buyers

Comment by gstatty 10.30.09 @

all the dudes saying that artists will sell more if they press just vinl are tripping. everyone has a cd player in there house (nearly) only djs and real enthusiasts collectors have decks.

Comment by gx 10.30.09 @

you’re only realizing this now? Maybe if more heads copped wax more than once a fuckin year then more wax would get pressed. Once a year… pfft. You expect something that dropped in May to still be in print now when your ass tries to order it? The curent state of shit those that do press wax are only pressing a couple thousand at a time and if you sleep it’s OOP. Cop the wax when it drops if you want it, otherwise STFU.

Comment by P 10.30.09 @

Actually a lot of DJs are selling their collections these days because either they use Serato too much or they’ve hit hard times and need to pay their bills.

Yeah, vinyl still sells, but it’s still mainly DJs, old men and white, middle aged collectors that buy it. Those aren’t exactly the cool crowd. Maybe with this DJ hero game maybe more people will be inspired to cop some vinyl (and then get bored and pawn off their turntables)

“all the dudes saying that artists will sell more if they press just vinl are tripping”

Agreed. Everyone has a CD player, even if it is only in the computer or in the car. A turntable just isn’t an item i’d exepct to see in anyones house anymore.

Comment by JUSTIN 10.30.09 @

One other problem is that there aren’t many actual record stores about anymore where heads can buy new releases.

When i used to go shopping for new vinyl releases (one of the only record stores in the city) it was more than record digging. I met new people, i had a nice chat with the owners and you can chill in the store and listen to shit.

You just don’t get that on the internet.

Comment by JUSTIN 10.30.09 @


Comment by TYBO2020 10.30.09 @


Comment by TYBO2020 10.30.09 @

Vinyl is much more expensive to manufacture than cd’s and stores/distros want to sell a 12″ single for $7-8 so they’re only going to want to pay $4 max. If you are pressing 500 singles, you’re gonna be selling them almost at cost. Sure, press 1000 and get a better deal per unit, but then you have 1000 records to get rid of in 2009. The game has changed and wax just doesn’t fit into everyone’s new ilifestyles.

I think it’s easier for other genres to make vinyl work in this day and age because they are putting out full length albums which have higher wholesale and retail prices with the same manufacturing cost. The single just doesn’t make sense in the era of the mp3. At least financially.

I picked up a few dope rap records this year (P Bros, Pete Rock & Roc Marci, Marco Polo & Torae, etc) and still buy wax over cd but like some other posters put it, there isn’t much to buy! My group Grand Invincible put out a 12″ at the beginning of the year and it has been tough to get distribution. Only a few people have really seemed to care we put out an indie rap 12″ in 2009. Most people just want to buy our shirts and listen to our songs on myspace.

Comment by Eons 10.30.09 @

The strange thing is that vinyl sales are UP overall. Its just in hip hop that no one buys vinyl anymore…

The resurgent vinyl market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, recent figures released by Nielsen SoundScan indicate that overall U.S. vinyl sales will once again set a benchmark in 2009, with sales up 50% through the first five months of the year.

SoundScan predicts vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. Already in 2009, vinyl sales have topped 1 million. At this point last year, vinyl sales stood at 701,000 copies. To be fair, the number is still tiny compared to overall album sales.

Comment by keatso 10.30.09 @

It’s true that vinyl sales are up, just that Hip Hop is not the leader. Actually, Rock records are compiling a large portion of that “vinyl sales” number. It seems that cats that are diggin’ (literally!!!) these rock records will go out and support on vinyl. The fickleness of hip hop fans and lack of support for their artists for reasons like age is absurd. Rock fans don’t seem do that! We need to get back to basics and support. Even if you don’t buy the vinyl, buy something!!! An MP3 actually has the potential to put more money in an artist’s hands than let’s say a record or CD. It takes less cost to get it to the consumer and it has no physical shelf life issues.

Comment by SPank (Divided Souls Ent) 10.31.09 @

I do agree from a fan’s perspective: Hip Hop = Vinyl!!!

Comment by SPank (Divided Souls Ent) 10.31.09 @

I’ve saved a lot of money in the last three years, because of these albums I would’ve bought had they been released on vinyl:
Joell Ortiz’ The Brick – Bodega Chronicles, Return Of The Mac, H.N.I.C. 2, OB4CL2, the new Cormega, the new Fashawn, new M.O.P., Slaughterhouse, Chemical Warfare, CNN Channel 10,Street Hop, Freddie Foxxx – Crazy Like A Foxx (released on Fat Beats, wtf?), both Statik Selektah, REKS, Undeground Kingz, Graduation, Hell Hath No Fury…

Comment by Krisch 10.31.09 @

“so much of the real history of the genre beyond your NY rap from ‘86 – ‘97 only exists on those formats.”

Yeah, the shitty parts of it.

Comment by haroon 10.31.09 @

I still buy a lot of Vinyl (mostly new albums or limited records) and older CDs used on Amazon Marketplace.

I’m glad Duck Down and Stones Throw holds the Vinyl market down. ST shows a lot love to Vinyl lovers. I’m glad Duck Down released Double Barrel and Skyzoos The Salavation on 2LP.

I’d prefer Vinyl over CDs any day.

Comment by Sickness 10.31.09 @

Quit yer’ bitching.

True story is that I was at my peeps crib and we were listening to wax and that shit sounded so rich and full of depth. Maybe cuz’ I was high, or prA’li because the sound quality is just that much better than an .mp3 but sadly the listener is being robbed

Comment by Dallas 11.01.09 @

Fat beats is empty if u lookin 4 new records…only thing they got is reprints

Comment by money mercilesz 11.01.09 @

hell yeah man i couldnt believe my eyes when i walked into fat beats the shit was fucking sad as hell. the main wall that used to be the place to find the newest latest was barley stocked and that 12’s from 04′ and 05′ wtf?? forget about the middle isles, full of garbage..the used bins used to be full of treats too but now nuthin even worth coppin…think thats bad how bout Rock & Soul holy shit!!!

Comment by 357NYC 11.01.09 @

i listen to alot of rock stuff now cause of the state of hip hop over the past few years n its true vinyl sales in rock genres are through the roof

Comment by 357NYC 11.01.09 @

^^actually i just got the diamond district,blaq poet,and a few other albums there so it aint all empty,even though it is gettin harder to find

Comment by dj blendz 11.01.09 @

If pressing vinyl is so expensive, how can people press up all these dub step tracks? Also Chamber music was released on vinyl.

Comment by Whopper Goon 11.01.09 @

What is happening at Rock and Soul? Are they still in bizness? Last time I was there 6-7 years ago, they were really about selling “white label” mixes for street djs

Comment by keatso 11.02.09 @

Took the words out of my mouth. I too would like to support a good album with a vinyl purchase and a vinyl purchase only.

Comment by Rood 11.02.09 @

its there its just bare

Comment by money mercilesz 11.02.09 @

Rock & Soul is still in business and they still sell plenty of vinyl (old and new) and they still have the turntables out if you want to listen first. They have LPs and 12″s, and they also have their same selection of DJ equipment. However, they don’t have the greatest selection of new releases.

That leads me to this question — where in NYC has the best selection in new vinyl releases? Fat Beats in my opinion has been slacking big time, almost as if they’re planning on going out of business the way the store is semi-barren considering how it used to be. Beat Street in BK closed down in the last couple of years. Aside from random street vendors in SoHo, where can I go to buy good, real Hiphop vinyl now?


Comment by bc-tw 11.02.09 @

I used to go hard at Rock & Soul whenever I’d visit New York… I guess it’s good to hear they’re still selling vinyl and got the turntables out. But yeah, it’s finally happening to vinyl. Of course, this is something the labels were trying to do since the early-’90s, but there was never a format solid enough to knock vinyl off- but nowadays with Serato, it’s almost academic that vinyl’s importance to DJ’s has officially been eclipsed. I still have all my vinyl for sentimental reasons- when I’m 70 or so, I assume I’ll still be able pull ’em out and play ’em while telling the kids about the good ol’ days.


Comment by DANJ! 11.02.09 @

The ‘high end’ vinyl stores in NYC like “The Sound Library” and “Big City”(i think that’s the name) usually have any new vinyl that’s worth having.
Not a lot of choices, but there’s not a lot of new shit worth copping, IMO.

I agree with what you’re saying, Robbie.
Although I did LOVE my tapes back in the day.
In fact, I stayed buying tapes until the early, mid 90’s when the indys were jumping off tough.
It was great to have the tape so you could bring it everywhere with you. Even though you would wind up losing most, or people would wanna ‘borrow’ and never return them. I have had fights over tapes, no bullshit. And records, for that matter, lol.

Never got into CDs. I found it funny that some CDs
are rare and sell for big $$.
Nothing like owning that nice piece of vinyl, though.

Comment by verge 11.05.09 @

sound library has been closed 4 years btw

Comment by money mercilesz 11.06.09 @

Whateva happened to “All the right records” up in Queens? Anyone knows if it’s still open?

O yea Rock & Soul sucks as far as coppin new vinyl,i go there for the older stuff

Comment by dj blendz 11.06.09 @


Comment by donaleski 11.08.09 @

records created hip hop as we know it,but sadly hip hop is not hip hop anymore.just a sad immatation in a disposable digital era. where the laptop generation of kids cop the latest keyboard rap shit for free while middle aged diggers pay fortunes on ebay.everything runs in cycles(360 degrees) so maybe hip hop will return to source of where it was created from.vinyl

Comment by mr nuk 11.17.09 @

I visited Fatbeats last month & couldn’t believe how empty it looked. I asked the cat behind the counter if they were going under & he spoke on the contrary. Sensibly so, they want to avoid any rumors of an oncoming demise from spreading..The website hasn’t been updated in months,in fact @ one point they weren’t accepting online orders.. I know how tough it can be, I owned the legendary Rootz Record store in Middletown and business was challenging then.Serato seems to be vinyls replacement,,but where’s the cover art??,,linear notes??,,how do we pass down MP3 files to the next generation?? I think It’s relevant to partying every weekend & spending all your money on liquor and smokes,,seems like fun @ that moment..But what do you have to show for it all on Monday???..The thrill of vinyl shopping & feeling excited about going home to play the wax seems to have faded away…If your ass cant pay the light bill and wifey starts bugging out, try selling MP3 files for some quick cash!

Comment by Misseda Flow 12.11.09 @

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