As Pitchfork recently commissioned select retrospective reviews of David Bowie’s catalog after his passing, here in the office we looked at each other and thought, “Well, way to catch up with what we’ve been up to lo these 9 years.”
Not lost on us is that record reviews—new releases—serve their purpose, but if you stop by TVD with any regularity or fire up our (free) Record Store Locator App, you’re bound to uncover both old and new records in record shops that should (or shouldn’t–let’s face it) be in your collection.
Our recurring job henceforth, tipped to you via that nifty icon lower left, is to inform your crate digging via our archives. Go forth, buy records, and be nice to people. —Ed.
Released a quarter century ago by the Def Jam label, Brooklyn trio 3rd Bass’ The Cactus Album stands as a hip-hop classic. Due to this stature one might assume the full story behind its creation has long resided in the historical record, but that’s not the case. To get the complete scoop on this and assorted other hip-hop achievements one needs seek out the books of Brian Coleman. Aptly subtitled “more liner notes for hip-hop junkies,” Check the Technique Vol. 2 is freshly available from Wax Facts Press.
Anybody having spent hours inspecting the treasures in a jazz-centric record shop knows LPs in the multifaceted style regularly came adorned with notes (Hentoff! Williams! Jones!) on the back of the sleeve. And folks devoting time, energy and dollars to keeping up with deluxe reissues and box sets in multiple genres understand that extensive annotation of and commentary upon background specifics was/is an expected component in the retail price.
As a relatively young art form, hip-hop has suffered from experiencing its burgeoning stylistic era(s) in a business setting that wrongly assumed buyers of contemporary music (as opposed to those dropping cash on older material) cared about little more than the sounds, the labels mostly throwing context and packaging to the wayside.
This was an easy assumption to arrive at if one’s only concern was making money. But those spending it were reliably left at mysterious loose ends. Producer credits, thank you lists, and cleared samples were a start, and interviews and articles in Spin, Vibe and The Source brought a modicum of enlightenment, but the deep investigation, which often simply entails sincere interest and respect for the subject, becoming comfortable with the artists and then asking the right questions, was lacking for years.