REWINDING WITH DJ food stamp

PHOTO CREDITS:  ZANE RITT

This time we are taking it up to the Pacific Northwest to chop it up with DJ food stamp.  You might be familiar with his Mixtape series for Undergroundhiphop.com.  As a DJ, he digs and recovers many things in the field.  12" lp's, 45's,  dj mixers, turntables, sealed cassettes and even funk 8-tracks.  We recently saw his impressive collection online and there was no question about what we had to do next.  Wait til you see what he has.  Just like all of our past features, foodstamp is a busy man with some great projects going on in addition to holding down the tables.

One of those projects includes an all comprehensive website called DJPEDIA.ORG  You can anticipate this site being the go to resource for DJ History and research.   Please make sure you check out what he is doing with the first DJ Encyclopedia.  So big ups to foodstamp for taking the time to rewind with us and pay tribute to the medium of Hip Hop's Golden Era..-




(SC)  How long have you been collecting tapes?


It has been one of those on and off things for over 25 years.  But, been back at it for 4 years or so now on the super solid tip.  You know, as a music head coming out of the '80s, there really wasn't any other way to get music commodities unless you were a rich kid or an older person. I didn't know anybody with a CD player or even with CDs and in the '80s, and the vinyl LP sort of became this lost format because the whole industry was forcing CDs down people's throat in order to exploit their back catalogs in a new format. Dicks! But, you could always get some blank tapes and make “unauthorized” copies of your favorite shit.

Anyway, in about 1985 I heard a Fat Boys tape. It was my first exposure to hip hop really. I was way geeked and got this older kid in the neighborhood to dub it for me. From there, I just was constantly dubbing music from older kids and was definitely one of those kids messing with pause looping and putting my headphones into a mic jack and making my own tapes. I mean, that DJ mentality was in me at that age. I grew up in Maine, about one hour north of Boston, so hip hop music was coming up my way even back then and getting into music stores in the area. But, pickings were slim.

The first commercial cassette I bought was BDP's Criminal Minded a bit after it came out in maybe 1988 (I always think about this when I listen to De La's Stakes is High intro). Saved up some birthday money and got my babysitter at the time to buy me the tape. Yo! MTV Raps was on TV then too, so I was just watching that and picking up music based upon the music videos I was hearing.



But, I got really hooked on cassingles. That became my shit. They had the remixes on there, the alternative versions, all that shit. That, to this day, is still my favorite way to have cassettes. Besides the physical element of the cassingle, they were dumb easy to steal. I won't lie. I didn't have much loot as a kid, but I could go into a Strawberry's and jack all the singles I wanted because they didn't have the big plastic security thing on there. I used to get cassingles in my Christmas stalking; will never forget getting a copy of Grand Puba's “360 Degrees (What Goes Around)” in my 1992 stalking and playing it over and over again all day. 

When I was a teen I used to dub this show on WUNH (University of New Hampshire) called The Mothership Connection, which was a major source of exposing me to “underground” rap shit. Eventually I got a hookup in NYC that would get me tapes from the old Rap Attack shows, then Future Flavors and the Stretch and Bobbito Show. That was fresh. In college in the late '90s I was in Connecticut and was getting all the dope mixtapes at the bodegas and the stores that sold the fakes ass Wu-Wear and all that. Really got my collection up to about 10-15 shoe boxes stuffed with tapes—both commercial and boots.

I rocked tapes exclusively (along with vinyl) until 2002 when I got a new car that only had a CD player in it. I had a couple CDs from a radio station I had been working for. I kinda dipped out on the format then just cuz I listened to a lot of music in the car on CD because it was convenient. Sucks how that happens, but it does (look at digital DJing!).




(SC)  What made you go back to picking up tapes?  Do you still have a cassette player?

I had really regretted getting rid of all of these crazy tapes I had. It was one of those things that I was moving a lot and they were dead weight. I had so much vinyl to worry about that lugging around those boxes became onerous (same with all these now collectable magazines). I would give a pound of flesh to get back all the Roc Raida, Preemo, Evil Dee, Ron G, Babu, Kid Capri, Tony Touch, etc. mixtapes that I had. FUUUUCK!!!

For real though, the cassette represents straight up nostalgia for me. I mean, that medium is so classic. People say that the best music and most important music to your identity is the stuff you listened to as a child/teenager. I agree with that, but having that music in the format I originally had it in brings it to another level for me. Aside from the whole audiophile thing, for me it's what the cassette represents: the time period for music, my life, and the combination of both.



Now, I have a couple 4-track recorders and a cassette player in my wife's car. I have been bumping Marley Marl's In Control V. 1 in that car for over a year now cuz it's one of the flavas I have opened. Cuz most of my stuff is sealed and I ride a motorcycle most the time, I don't have the fresh tape player in the house. I recently copped a minivan and it needs a system bad, so I'll hook it with a cassette player. Once I upgrade into a bigger crib where I can hook up some recording ish, I'm going to make a grip of mixtapes for listening pleasure and the homies.

(SC)  I've never seen so many sealed tapes since I walked into a Sam Goody more than 15 years ago.  Could you tell us the story behind all of these?  (You don't have to reveal any of your stash spots)

Let me be clear. As a DJ, I am not a collector. I buy vinyl as a user, you know. I don't collect it. I play it, I rock it, I chop it up. It's a tool. But, by nature I am a collector. Having these sealed is sort of my collector's collection. I LOVE seeing people's collections (your's included) and that is a beautiful thing to me. As a tape head, I bug on seeing what other people have picked up. For some people, the sealed collection is next level nerdery; for others, it's lame duck. You would be surprised at how many people are sitting on GRIPS of sealed shit they bought at auction or have in storage. 

How I got into it was that my homie, for some reason, gave me this sealed Arabian Prince tape in like 2008. I just had it sitting there on my shelf in my studio. I liked it a lot, just looking at it. I was staring at it one day and just started thinking about the smell of opening it, you know, that toxic ass new tape smell. I love that shit. 

So, that Arabian Prince joint just got me thinking about how much I love cassettes and how it really was like this nostalgic medium for me. From there, I kind of made it my biz to get my hands on sealed cassingles and some very seminal albums as well. I pick up about 25-100 sealed cassettes per year from various sources: online, people I've met who have backstock, record stores that know me and that's what I'm into.



I got a nice grip of sealed joints that I would consider rare, even on the unopened tip. I'd say that the prize of my collection is 3 sealed commercial copies of Biz Markie's I Need a Haircut with “Alone Again” on it, you know, the record that got Biz (and hip hop in general) in trouble with the sample police.  Most of those commercial copies were destroyed shortly after the lawsuit broke out. I keep thinking that this is a rare as fuck tape to have and to have sealed, but I come up on a copy every year or so. 

But yeah, they gotta be sealed. Some day I'm going to bust them all open, maybe with my grandkids or some shit, inhale that fresh smell, and flex the boombox for them.  


(SC)  I heard that you gave alot of tapes to Mr. Lif.  Could you tell us about that?

In 2003ish I realized that I still had a box of full-length cassettes after I had basically gotten rid of my cassingle and bootleg joints. I had no idea what to do with these.  It was a bunch of random stuff, probably more commercial records (i.e. Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die or Das EFX's Dead Serious) and Kool Moe Dee and Whodini joints, sort of the tail end of what I had. My people over at www.UGHH.com told me that Mr. Lif was into collecting tapes; I hit him up and sent them all to him. I never ever heard back from him and haven't seen him really since that, so I don't know if he got them, liked them, or whatever. Ayo Lif, get at me dude!!!






(SC)  Im seeing more than just Hip Hop tapes in your collection.  Do you collect other genres or breaks on cassette?  (For example:  The Bob James collection?)

My collection is basically 80s and 90s hip hop cassingles and then some full-lengths. I do have some other genres/formats, but that is pretty rare.

I mean, I am always looking for shit online. I know a lot of people hate that and don't respect it cuz it's not diggin' but buying (I don't represent that as diggin' anyway), but man, the web brings so much crazy shit out of people's barns and storage. Where I live in Oregon isn't really a spot to pick up hip hop, funk, and soul media. Recently, I scored this lot on eBay of 13 Bob James' cassettes for a few bucks. They are opened, but One and Two were in there, so how the fuck could I not want that in my collection. 

I also actually have a pretty nice, yet modest, collection of sealed 8-tracks of classic break records. Ahahaha. You know, the 8-track was the tape format for a lot of the funk and soul from the early-to-mid-1970s, so you cannot find them on cassette. So yeah, I kinda of started dipping into that format as well, which reflects the tendency for a lot of hip hop DJs to eventually start copping break and sample records.

PHOTO CREDITS:  TRAVIS RODERICK


(SC)  Recently, labels like Stones Throw and Nature Soundz pressed up some cassettes.  Is a cassette renaissance around the corner?  Or is it just fad?

Nah, I mean, it's definitely kind of a gimmick for those labels. I don't think that the cassette will make a mass resurrection. It just won't happen on any major level, but may be a niche (definitely hipster) market. You can't carry tapes in your skinny jeans, you know. I mean, the recording industry and the press say that LP sales are crazy and that vinyl is alive, which is a lie or hyperbole at best. I feel like it's the same thing with tapes. You know? It's a story, it's a hook, it's some hype. We all may feel like a renaissance is around the corner, but we are all tape nerds, so that's a feeling and not reality. But, if there is a market there will be somebody there to capitalize on it. 

Look at most young people. They listen to sonically “perfect” shitty sounding MP3s their whole lives. Tapes hiss and vinyl pops, that ain't a nostalgia thing for them. So I don't know, to be honest, if young people will grab onto that.  I know some young people are finding vinyl and all that, but I don't think that a lot of young hip hop consumers give a fuck about a physical analog medium.  I know that the used market for hip hop cassettes is decent now, but it's all old shit. Would you buy a Tyler, the Creator or Brother Ali tape?

PHOTO CREDIT:  Aaron Marineau/Oregon Daily Emerald  

And, I'm jumping on the gimmick train too. I have recently and VERY slowly been working on a mixtape that is done using all vinyl, a classic 4-track recorder, and will be distributed as an analog cassette with a download code. But yo, I mean, who fuckin wants a mixtape CD (and I'm guilty as fuck in making those)? But if you really want a mixtape you gotta have it on cassette. Mixtapes were made for that format, straight up!

I hope tapes stay alive. It's such a dope medium, probably one of the only good things to come out of Nazi Germany (magnetic tape technology was seized from Radio Luxembourg and then developed commercially in the U.S. a few years later). Will a 15-year-old get off their ass and away from a computer to buy and make tapes, who the fuck knows.  Let's hope, but I doubt it. 

(SC)  Any last shouts or comments?

The tape is a beautiful medium. It is the first medium for recorded music where consumers were granted power. It was the MP3 of the 1970s through the 1990s. No wonder that the music industry fought that format; it took their control away. It is a two way medium and not a monopoly of expression like a CD or even vinyl is (although DJs have figured out how to have discussions using vinyl). That's why I hate the CD and what it represents: suppression, copyright catalog exploitation, industrial control, etc. The tape is nothing like that. It's emancipation for our ears and identities. You could take a commercial copy of a tape that sucked balls and with a little creativity you could record over it. I think that the best uses of recorded music are unauthorized ones. The tape is about us, about culture, about sampling. The commercial cassette is indelibly part of that development as well, but tapes can be art and can be folk art. 

I do want to shout out all the real music heads out there, the DJs who still buy records, and the tape heads who bug on the sonic hiss, flip to the next side, and press play.


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Catch up with DJ foodstamp on FACEBOOK and don't forget to check out DJPEDIA.ORG


2 comments:

  1. Stu Linden14.2.12

    That was a dope ass article. I loved whole thing from top to bottom guys. Great job. Keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Word, thanx for tuning in...

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