In just short amount of time, our network has been growing.  This time, we're going to Canada by way of our northern connect G Roc Gayle.  He mentioned that he knew somebody who not only collected cassettes but was also the owner of the Roots Forward record label.

Jason Armitage has been collecting cassettes since the early 80's.  His collection spans from classic NY Hip Hop radio shows, early rap classics to a multitude of blank media tapes.  In addition to Djing, collecting cassettes and pressing up vinyl, he is also involved in a traveling store/event called the Analog Museum...which is exactly what it sounds like.  A museum paying homage to all types of analog collectibles.  We knew that we had to catch up with this guy so here it is...


(SC) So how long have you been collecting cassettes? 

I started collecting cassettes in '84. I received a K-Tel compilation tape called "Breakdance", which featured a lot of popular electro tracks of the time("Electric Kingdom" by Twilight 22, Rockit by Herbie Hancock, etc) Then in '86 I really got into dubbing radio mix show cassettes from my track coach at the time who was originally from New York City. Every 3 months or so he would go back to New York to visit his family and he would always record all the mixshows(Chuck Chillout, Red Alert and Marley Marl). He would come back from his trip with at least a dozen new tapes filled with the newest rap music of the time. This was my first exposure to rap music in a DJ mix form. I was intrigued by the way the DJs were able to seamlessly mix songs together and make it all sound cohesive. It was then that I decided I had to learn to become a DJ!

(SC) With the convenience of digital music, you can have your whole collection in your pocket. What keeps you coming back to the tape?

2 things actually. The first being sound quality. I love the sound of analog. If you have a good quality deck and use high quality blank tapes to record on the sound quality is amazing. I think a lot of people missed out on that part of the equation with cassettes. Most consumers experience with cassette is limited to having purchased pre-recorded music on tape(which sonically was always hit and miss. Some labels had great sounding tapes, others left a lot to be desired) or dubbing/making tapes on a boombox(often with cheap blank tapes). Most people didn't take the time to learn how to record onto tape to achieve good quality results, or simply couldn't be bothered with the hassle. Most of my friends in high school were more than happy to hit the "high speed dubbing" button on their boom box to get a quick copy of a friends new tape. I was always the tape nerd who took the utmost care and attention to make sure my recorded tapes sounded great. If I made a recording and wasn't happy with the quality I would go back and record it again to achieve the desired sound. This dedication to the art has never changed for me. In fact, I recently put out a series of cassettes made from rare and hard to find rap 12" in my collection. I loved the challenge of sequencing the tracks in a logical way and recording them onto tape, just like I had done in my earlier years. I then made copies and distributed them to friends and like minded music lovers, who were pleasantly surprised by the gift.

The second reason I continue to use tape is the simple fact that I still have a tape player in my car. I spend at least an hour a day in my car, so putting music on cassette is the most logical choice for me. Why would I convert music to MP3 or CD when I already have a cassette copy? I still own every cassette I have ever purchased and have kept them all in very good shape.

(SC) How do people react when they see your collection?

Reactions are always mixed. Often times people will laugh and look at me in disbelief. "Who listens to tapes anymore" is a typical question. But for the most part people are intrigued by my tapes and impressed by the fact that I have such a sizeable and well maintained collection. I have most of the bigger rap titles from '86 - '92 and a good selection of rare and hard to find titles as well.


(SC) Could you tell us some of your stand out tapes? 

I have an attachment to the blank tapes I used when I first started recording the NYC radio mix shows back in the day. My personal favourites are the TDK SA series from the mid 80's and the gold Maxell XL II series. Recording music at that time was so new and fresh to me, so seeing those tapes always brings back great memories.

(SC) I noticed that you've got a killer blank tape collection. How did you get into collecting those?

Like I mentioned before, I started recording on tape in '86. At that point I was purchasing blank tapes for the sole purpose of putting music on them. However, a few years ago I started finding still sealed blank tapes at pawn shops and on ebay and it sort of became another thing to collect for me. I suddenly found myself seeking out unique cassettes and collecting blank tape for the purpose of amassing a collection that I could display. I now often trade with other collectors around the world and it has become a little side project for me.

Get the flash player here:

(SC) How popular is it to collect those? Are there alot of people into them?

There are many forums on the internet dedicated to tape collectors. I don't know just how big the market is, but there are definitely collectors from around the world who share the same interest. The internet has made it easy to connect with other collectors to sell, trade or just discuss analog tape.

(SC) In 2012, how are cassettes still relevant? or are they at all?

I don't forsee tape coming back as a competitive format, but there is still a market for them. Many stores still have blank cassettes available for purchase and some boomboxes still have cassette players in them. This tells me that it is still viable to at least a small segment of the population. People that love the cassette format will continue to use it as long as they can. I have also noticed a resurgence in labels putting out releases on cassette. Some say it is a gimmick, but to me there are still people around that enjoy analog sound and are willing to support it when they are given the option.

(SC) Can you tell us about Analog Museium and Roots Forward records?

"Analog Museum" is a travelling store that I started a few years ago. I sell used vinyl, cassettes and a small assortment of music collectibles. Cassettes are probably one of the best sellers for me. I try to offer my customers a good selection(rock,funk,soul and rap) at a reasonable price(usually only a couple dollars per tape). I have a loyal following here in the city that regularly gets their analog fix!

Roots Forward is a record label I started last year. I put out rare and unreleased rap singles from the 80's and 90's. The label is vinyl only, and all releases are limited to 300 hand numbered copies. The first release was a track from 1988 by Craig G and Marley Marl entitled "I Can't Stop" The track was previously unreleased and has been well received from customers all over the world including Japan, Germany, France, the UK and North America. The label recently put out a limited 7" single from Madman Shawn and is set to put out a limited 12" single from Too Tuff from the legendary Tuff Crew. You can check out label releases on the website


(SC) Any last shouts or comments?

Definitely want to thank Steve Gersten(my old track coach) for inspiring me to get into rap as a teenager. He was the catalyst for so much of what I am today. Thank you to the fine folks at Strictly Cassette for giving me the forum to share my passion for cassettes. I also want to thank all those that have been instrumental in getting the Roots Forward label off the ground: Leroy Burgess(thank you for the countless long distance calls!)Richard Smith at Slice of Spice, Paul Nice, Alex Abrash, Kool Kyle, Fran Lover, Madman Shawn, Too Tuff, Frankenstein(Canada) and all the people worldwide that support music on vinyl and cassette. Long live analog!!


  1. Another dope feature!! Those pause tapes r the illest..props 2 J on the ill collection of blank boy Buttonpusha & myself still collect them..i still make pause tapes 4 my travels or 2 pass it 2 the homies!!!

    1. I think a lot of people overlooked the quality that some of those blanks can bring. The high grade cassettes can really achieve quality sound...even after a few years after it bleeds, it still sounds nice and for the most part...sound better thru time.

  2. Anonymous11.6.12

    I'm coached by Steve to!! love it when he drives around blasting it


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