Cratediggers. A title loosely used but some. They like to call themselves this because they swing by a record shop and pick up the latest Blu on vinyl.
This is for the CRATEDIGGERS the ones who have spent countless hours sifting through dusty records. Flipping covers to inspect the instruments & producers. Inspecting the records for warped wax and scratches. Wearing masks to avoid dust irritating the ever living shit out of your allergies even more. The ones who have dealt with tight backs, sore asses (and not the fun kinda sore) and dusty fingers in order to find that hidden gem. Spending an entire day going from record store to record store in order to come up on everything and anything. The record hoarders. This one is for you…
My love for vinyl was instilled in me at a young age. My grandfather was an avid music lover. Some of my earliest memories was sitting with him playing Fania and other salsa records. He taught me how to handle the records “like a baby mija“. The soothing sound of static when the needle hit the record became my lullaby. It was what comforted me while my mother was working graveyards and my father, being my wild child father all the time, was not around. But not only my grandfather, my father, was heavy into classic rock. So Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd records were also shot up in my veins. Cooked in with my uncle’s Michael Jackson and my aunts Latin freestyle records. Then my mother’s soul records became the cut to the drug in my life called “wax”.
All these records filled my early developmental years. But people don’t always talk about the positive effects of drugs. Doesn’t Excedrin take away your headache? I mean, vinyl gives me that high and relief. But when I became a full fledged addict is when Hip Hop was introduced. It happened. When my mother was playing the Charmel’s, I figured out “C.R.E.A.M.’s” sample. I suddenly became fixated on figuring out samples. Yes, pre-WhoSampled and all that cheating shit. It was like freebasing wax. So my “dig” habit was born. When I dig, nothing else exists. Every problem, worry, care in the world disappears for those hours and all that exists is me and the smell of old records. The dig. The hunt. I become fixated on searching every nook for that record. This became my dragon.
I remember having $40 to get me to the end of the week. I would eat a dollar cheeseburger and chips & dip once a day to make sure that I was able to swing by the record store to get something… anything. Addict huh? So, if my therapist were to read this right now, she would tell me that it is my “addictive personality, inherited from my father is what causes me to become fixated on things”. Yeah, she’s right. But better this than coke right? Better this than gambling right? But both hit the pocket book for sure. But we keep on keeping on. Cause nothing beats the high I get when I find that gem. That one that I have been looking for. So this is my mother fucking therapy. Some seek comfort in a bottle, I find comfort in my records. Plus my records don’t lie.
I recently read, J57 was quoted saying, “I think a lot of the younger kids that are learning to make beats may not have the same love for samples that somebody from my generation or older has. They’re probably ripping stuff off YouTube 99 percent of the time, so they kind of aren’t connected to the record. It’s not even a real thing; it’s not physical. Think about this: when they were little, guys like Lil’ Wayne were really big at the time, and a majority of what they were doing was sample free.” Even Audible Doctor was quoted, “I can understand why there’s a [decline] in the culture of digging. It’s easy not to, especially when there’s no real cultural upbringing surrounding vinyl. [Younger producers] don’t understand the importance of how special vinyl is. They never bought it. They were never around it.” So we have two, which I feel will be legendary, underground producers stating that there is a lack of digging in today’s producing. Which made me question if the cratedigging culture is really endangered? I must write!
So on social media I see a handful of serious collectors. Ones who collect more than just Hip Hop records (even though those do hold a very high percentage in my collection). I see fucking vinyl everywhere… at Urban Outfitters. Shit we went into Barnes & Nobel the other day and were surprised they had a small selection of wax. For fuck sake, I see a bunch of assholes looking through vinyl when I’m digging. So how can vinyl be on the decline? Technically it’s not. It has actually increased. But speaking to a few old school vinyl collectors, this increase we feel is more for nostalgia. Not for practical use or production. Why else who they be selling vinyl frames? My grandfather saw a vinyl in a frame I received once as a gift. He told me, “Take that shit off the wall. Records were made to be played not hung.” Word. Okay, yeah if you have a signed Freddie King record, then okay. But seriously, why do you have a framed Dilla record unless he cried on it or spooned with that mother fucker?
Then I turned and looked at myself. Why do I collect? I mean, I’m not a producer. I don’t make beats. Then I realized, yeah, I am an educator. I have recently put someone on to digging for samples. I am a collector of origins. So one day, my children can see where the music I loved came from. Unlike your when hard-drive is fried or the fall of civilization occurs and ITunes and digital music isn’t at your disposal, vinyl will still be played. The same echos of drums, horns, strings, and melodic voices that carried through the air into my ears as a child will flow into the ears of my children and children’s children. Generation to generation. Vinyl to me, is forever.
So have your children put music into their hands. Have them hold a record. Have them look at the covers. Teach them the physical connection to music. Just like hands to drums. Keep everything as organic as possible. Get them off the Guitar Hero and and their IPod for a moment. Teach them young. It’s our responsibility to carry on tradition.
Rebecca – Live Elements