Thursday, July 22

Interview with a Digger Part 1

Interview with a Digger Part 1
“The Jolly Digger Bank”
by Odolla Bin Laden a.k.a. Gorge Foreman

This is my man Jacques Lonestar from Maryland. He's a fellow digger, vinylphile and beat maker. We sat down in the dusty confines of this digital world to talk about my favorite pastime: crate digging. I picked his brain like Barbra Walters with a pair if Bar-b-que tongs and found out that not only is the homie knowledgeable, but he has some deep ass crates too.

First things first, How long have you been digging?

I've been digging since early 1996, but really it goes back further than that if you’re talking just buying records.

The term “Digger” usually implies hip hop. I want this to be the focus of this interview. Is that what prompted you to collect records? You make beats or Dj?

Yeah it was a combination of hearing what my favorite producers flipped and hearing the records in my Mother and Grandfathers collections. I do make beats.

My first record was “We got our own Thang” by Heavy D and the Boys. I remember it being such an accomplishment. I felt like I was finally a part of this movement...what was the first record you ever purchased and what did it mean?

Aw man! I think it was either a Run DMC or Doug E. Fresh record , honestly I didn't think much of it as far as having the record , I was just glad to have the music . When I got Eric B & Rakim – “Paid In Full” in the late 80's I did feel real proud to have it.

When I started digging I just bought any record I saw from thrift stores that was less than two dollars and after a few years, I ended up with 90% junk, a few breaks, but no good records. What technique or advice would you give a guy just starting out digging and secondly, how many Barbra Streisand records can you own before you actually become gay?

I would say build a foundation, I learned through trial and error but if you build a foundation off of all the cornerstones like first look for James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic , Miles Davis , Herbie Hancock , Grand Funk Railroad , The Temptations , Steve Miller Band , you know once you find those classics and study them, learn who the players are and what they played, soon you'll have all the classics and you'll want more obscure stuff cause you haven't seen it before.

Great advice…that’s exactly what I did. Learn the names, players, genres, the label, what year, etc. It helped tremendously. And, I’ve never met a Streisand record that I didn’t hate.

Top right: Donald Byrd's "Ethiopian Knights"

And speaking of genres, is there one that you collect the most of? What’s your favorite artist in that genre?

My soul and jazz records take up the most space but I've always bought a lot of rock, Latin and spacey moog/synth records I gotta have the soul, funk and jazz though!

What genre do you hate? I fucking hate Country and Bluegrass.

If I don’t like it , I don’t buy it so I can’t really say I hate any genre . I LOVE that old 70’s Lee Perry type of dub. I play bass so I try to learn things from reggae music. I got a whole reggae crate, same with Latin pop music. Where I'm from in the D.C. area, you can find boatloads of Latin music.

Yeah, dub is ill…I can’t front. I just found “The Upsetters” which I found out to be Lee Perry’s band. The album is called “Return of the Great Ape.” Shit is FIRE. And, all that King Tubby shit is dope.

How many of the so-called classic hip hop breaks do you own? What’s the most that you’ve spent on a record?

I used to look in the back of the Upstairs Records catalog and check off how many of the UBB originals I had. I got most of ‘em now. The most I've spent was like $50 on a sealed self titled Meters LP . I find a lot of stuff cheap.

Shit..I spent 100$ on a Leon Thomas record called “SNCC’s Rap” with H. Rap Brown. Then copped two more copies over the next few years at about 70$ a pop. And let’s not talk about the novelty nudity records I have...I’ve dropped too much on records. Waaaaaay too much.

I’m a Historian, so the annals of time are significant to me. The times (and technology) dictate the type and quality of music made...this may be a layup, but, is there a specific year (or decade) that you look for? If so, why? What about that year or years attract you?

There's something magic about the seventies, that's always been my favorite shit but I love finding shit from the late seventies and early eighties 78 -83 that doesn't sound wack . Music from that disco era was actually recorded louder so if you find drums on a record from that period, most likely they'll thump harder.

Wow. Amazing observation. I never thought about it that way, but, yeah, it seems like late 70's disco drums do hit hard.

So, you’re about to get some booty one night and you want to get the mood right. What do you put on the turntable?

Marvin Gay "Midnight Desire."

I usually throw on “Afro Classic” by Hubert Laws. Hubert’s flute evinces the female’s natural lubricant. I'm working on a scientific theory that proves that...I might call it the "CTI effect."

Hubert Laws "Afro Classic" via Route 66

Are you a traditionalist when it comes to digging or do you have e-crates? As the proprietor of BeattheBrakesoffYoAss blog, I don’t think e-digging is terrible. What’s your opinion on the difference? Does one help or hurt the other? Do you dig on ebay?

I very rarely e-dig, but I'm almost a power seller on Ebay (lol) It just doesn't make sense to me to find a record that I don't really like, has no breaks or I already have and not sell it . I do find out about a lot of stuff online you know like gather information, but then I just go out in the field and try to find it.

What’s the farthest you’re travelled for a record? Have you dug outside of the USA?

I've been to the Ivory Coast in West Africa and attempted to find records but that was a no go. I just came from Myrtle Beach and found a spot down there. I've been to the Sound Library and A-1in NY.

Condition means the most to me. Whenever I dig, I meticulously check the condition and if it’s not shiny as a The Streaker’s unit, I will not cop it. How important is condition to you? Let’s say you found a beat-to-shit copy of The Honeysuckle Breeze by Tom Scott, do you cop it?

It depends on how it was pressed you know? Cause sometimes the record might play better than it looks or even vice versa. I try to buy at least vg+. The more mint the merrier though for sure!

How do you store your vinyl? How do you protect it from warping?

I got one 2x4 expedit , but I need to get the big one for the rest of my records . I'm still back in the days with the crates. I never stack my records on top of each other though.

You have any weird or interesting digging stories?

I don’t have any real crazy stories except one time I was over a female friends house and I asked if her mother had any old records , she pointed to the tv cabinet and her mother had a little stack with Baby Huey "The Living Legend " and Tyrone Thomas And The Whole Darn Family and I got to keep em.

Incredible score!

What about wifey? If you’re not married, what does your lady think of the amount of records you have? Trust me, “women hate records.” (quote from the guy who owns Records Galore in Clarkston, Ga.)

I know all about that beef! Mine cannot stand clutter and she swears I'm bringing insects in the house. I wish I had one of those women who dig too.

What’s the illest record in your collection…that one that can satisfy the digger, beatmaker, Dj, audiophile, and music archivist in you? Not necessarily your favorite, but one that just blows your mind every time.

Hmmmm , I don't know ! One of the illest records I have would be James Mason "Rhythm Of Life”

What do you hit first: dollar bin, new arrivals bin or the wall joints?

New arrivals absolutely.

What’s the illest record you’ve found in the dollar bin? I found 2 OG Axelrod records (Innocence and Experience) in a 1$ bin.

The James Mason LP (80 cents ), S.O.U.L. "Can You Feel It ", Bohannon "Stop & Go ", Heath Brothers "Passing Through" ( $2 ).

What record label do you collect that never disappoints?

Hmmmm, I don't know about labels, I can't think of one that never disappointed at all but anything arranged by Thom Bell is usually a go for me.

CTI, Stax and Blue Note rarely disappoint.

Speaking of labels, Kimbo or Melody House?

Melody House.

Word. Melody House has more drums, but I got some heat from Kimbo.

Two of my Holy Grail’s are “Live Convention 81” and “I Can't Be Satisfied” by Muddy Waters. What are two of yours?

Dorothy Ashby "Afro Harping" and I'm from the D.C. area so I'd have to say Little Benny (RIP) "Cat In The Hat" Go -Go music is D.C.'s own brand of funk.

I have a reissue of “Afro Harping”…dope album.

Grab Dorothy Ashby's "Afro Harping" via Giraffe Kingdom.

What’s the most expensive record you own (according to that shitty popsike site)?

I found doubles of that record, damn!!! I can’t even remember the name but it's a private pressed early 90's hip hop record, you know the dude with the fade and dreads and jean jacket, kneeling with the pink background, from upstate New York somewhere? They go for $700 on eBay, I sold those though. I found a copy of Heart & Soul “Standing Room Only “sealed and that sold for $550. Right now maybe S.O.U.L. "Can You Feel It."

I remember the record now, it was Ron B "Stitch By Stitch”. This thrift store had like 50 old school NY area hip hop records, a lot were small label - private pressed stuff. I only kept some of that stuff. If your ever on Ebay and see a seller by the name of "Yanirecs " that's me . I'll get the pictures too you.
I’ll check you out.

I spend more than I make on records on ebay. I just sell the craziest shit in my collection. My seller name is “chesterburnett500.”

Last and final question…when I die, I want Shirley Scott’s “Love is for Lovers” to be played. What record do you want played when you’re on that slow descent into the fiery pits of Hell?

That's a tough question, no reggae, no rock maybe Earth Win And Fire "Devotion.”


Right on...keep digging.

Check Jacques's beats on Myspace