Crate Diggers: Back on the Map Edition

It's baaaaaaaaaack!

It’s baaaaaaaaaack!

Well, look who it is!

Crate Diggers has returned.. and I have been sleeping!

My bad as it appears that fuse (@fusetv) has taken to posting the full episodes on their own website, with only the teasers being released through their YouTube channel from this point forward.

Given that this development went completely over my head, there are three entries in the series that have dropped since the show went on hiatus.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the free version of WordPress only supports a handful of sites when it comes to video embedding, so from this point forward, I will have to embed the teasers and post a link directing to the episode.

Crate Diggers 2014 gets underway by sitting down with three bona fide underground legends.

Let’s have at it.

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First off, we are privy to a sit down with Chief Xcel (@ChiefXcel), the DJ and producer for the Blackalicious (@blackalicious_) crew.

His collection is so massive, he has now taken to collecting storage units and hiring interns to sort through his crates.

Blackalicious are prepping for the release of their comeback album, Emoni, scheduled to drop very soon.

In my opinion, Nia is one of the best rap albums ever. I would love to hear a return to that sound.

Expectations are high regardless.

To see episode no. 35 in its entirety, click below:
Chief Xcel on Crate Diggers

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In the next episode, Crate Diggers meet up with DJ Qbert (@DJQbert), he of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and the world famous Rock Steady Crew.

This episode is an entertaining one. In particular, I really dug getting to see his comprehensive picture disc collection.

Qbert has always been a fun dude and it really comes across in this episode.

Enjoy it!

To see episode no. 36 in its entirety, click below:
DJ Qbert on Crate Diggers

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And to conclude, we have the most recent episode with Domino (@hierodomino) of Hieroglyphics (@HieroImperium).

Quite a thoughtful episode, as Domino keeps things old school, speaks upon his pride in the 93 ’til Infinity album, and reveals that the infamous Dante Ross (@DanteRoss) was responsible for his introduction to Del the Funky Homosapien (@DelHIERO).

We also get an impassioned speech pertaining to the value and integrity of vinyl as an audio format.

To see episode no. 37 in its entirety, click below:
Domino on Crate Diggers

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Great start to the new year!

Really looking forward to getting back into the groove of catching a new episode every Wednesday.

To check out the full Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter – @Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: DJ Scratch


Yesterday marked 11 years to the day since the passing of Jam Master Jay.

It’s wild that it’s been that long.


How fitting, then, that Crate Diggers was able to catch up with DJ Scratch (@DJScratch), he who was introduced to the world via the legendary JMJ.

In fact, fuse (@fusetv) released a teaser video with an exclusive outtake that highlights the friendship and respect between the two DJs.


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I was privileged to see Scratch perform with a freshly reunited EPMD in NYC at the 2007 Rock the Bells festival.

Peep my shitty video which predates the superior smartphone camera technology of today:

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Each episode of Crate Diggers is special in its own right but every once in a while, they manage to link with an artist who is sitting on an extremely impressive collection.

When you see the amount of red and blue vinyl he has from the 70s and 80s, it really is mindblowing.

I didn’t even realize they were pressing coloured records like that back then!

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Dude has LL Cool J (@llcoolj) test presses, possibly the most ridiculous Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) I’ve ever seen, as well as acetate discs (or dubplates or lacquers or whatever else you nerds wanna refer to them by) so rare that there can’t be any more than a handful of people in the world lucky enough to be holding these pieces within their collection.

Of course, he also has 45s for days and gives viewers a friendly reminder to step their 12″ single game up!

I don’t wanna spoil too many of the surprises as this episode was a real treat and Scratch comes across as a very informed and humble dude.

And extended props to Crate Diggers itself – programs like these will be vital in maintaining and extending the lives of the vinyl and digging cultures.

Pearls of wisdom at the end of the episode as we become privy to a choice conversation with Grandmaster Flash (@DJFlash4eva).

Learn somethin’.

Take a look at episode no. 34 below:

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To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter – @Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: Rjd2


I have mixed feelings about Rjd2 (@rjd2).

Like most fans of underground hip-hop at the time, I was blown away by Deadringer when it dropped back in 2002.

Looking back, the early-to-mid-aughts could be regarded as something of a “golden age” for indie rap and Rj‘s debut album is arguably one of the most influential records to ever emerge out of the genre of instrumental hip-hop.

At the time of release, Definitive Jux were leading the scene, having garnered universal acclaim for introducing the likes of Mr. Lif (@therealMrLif), Cannibal Ox (@CannibalOx), Aesop Rock (@AesopRockWins), and for launching the solo career of label founder, El-P (@therealelp).

So the success of Deadringer really can’t be overstated as it allowed for other producers to get their own solo deals and release their own instrumental albums rather than the standard beat tape.

Without laying that groundwork, there wouldn’t have been a lane available today for guys like Diplo (@diplo) to build an empire with the stature of Mad Decent.

(I certainly could not have pictured dude hawking BlackBerrys back when I purchased Florida in ’04).

Nevertheless, Rjd2 would go on to become one of the most in-demand underground producers for the rest of the decade.

At some point, he must have gotten bored and it began to show through his own work almost immediately.

Since We Last Spoke showed a steep decline in quality compared to its predecessor and Rj began making disparaging remarks about his own back catalogue as well as rap music as a whole, referring to it as “moron music”.

At the time, the lines between indie rock and indie rap were beginning to blur and it appeared as if he was no longer satisfied with being a mere producer. Rj now saw himself as a singer / songwriter.

That’s cool and all but that epiphany resulted in one of the shittiest albums I have ever heard in the Third Hand.

Artistic expression is something I will always support, even when I’m not personally into it, but to piss all over everything (and everyone) that brought you to that point was a real turn-off from a fan standpoint.

I even got into a Twitter conversation about it with DJ Mekalek (@djmekalek) of Time Machine who concurred:

*** Ed’s note: if you aren’t familiar with Time Machine, please believe that Slow Your Roll is one of the best rap records of the past decade. Also, check out last year’s Vicious Experiments (free download). These dudes are way too slept on.

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Back we are to the present day and Rjd2 is attempting to reclaim some of his past fanbase by creeping back onto the hip-hop scene with his latest release, More Is than Isn’t.

I’m not convinced. A lot of this shit sounds like a re-tread. Like a Diet Coke® version of his former self (with extra SPLENDA®).

Personally, the only track I’m really feeling is the collaboration with Phonte (@phontigallo).

The rest pretty much sucks.

Despite all of this, a beat nerd is a beat nerd and this is still a great episode.

Rj shows off a lot of unusual pieces within the crates but reveals a different side from most producers with his atypical organizational methods and general disinterest in collecting.

He even makes reference to a musical crisis he experienced in the late 2000s which may actually explain his brief flirtation with cardigans and white snobbery.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit even though I lost the majority of my interest in this clown many moons ago.

He’s still got stories, at least!

Take a look at episode no. 33 below:

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To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter – @Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: the Gaslamp Killer


It is always a pleasure to see a Crate Diggers episode approaching 20 minutes in runtime.

The series is gaining some serious momentum and the line-up of guests gets more impressive with each month.

In this latest installment, fuse (@fusetv) links up with L.A.’s own, the Gaslamp Killer (@GASLAMPKILLER).

For the uninitiated, the Gaslamp Killer is one of the better eccentrics in hip-hop today, in terms of his personality and his production style.

He released one of the top albums of 2012 in Breakthrough.

And he nearly died of internal bleeding last July after a horrific scooter accident.

The man is now without a spleen.

Signed to Brainfeeder (@BRAINFEEDER), the record label founded by fellow weirdo, Flying Lotus (@flyinglotus), we become privy to a collection that is very international and filled with a diverse array of rare cuts.

We even get to see a few one-of-a-kind FlyLo test presses.

This is another gem of an episode so don’t waste any more of your time reading this trash.

But shout out to Donald tho.

Take a look at episode no. 32 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter – @Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: Evidence


Back again one time with a fresh episode of Crate Diggers coming hot off the press.

Truth be told, at one time in my life, I regarded Evidence (@Evidence) as one of my favourite producers.

I still remember when Dilated Peoples (@PeoplesDilated) dropped the Platform.

At the time, the internet was just beginning to pop off and Dilated were making the transition from underground to major label.

Expectations were high, as right around this time, cats like Black Eyed Peas (@bep) and Jurassic 5 (@jurassic5) were cracking the mainstream with their modern takes on old-school flavoured, traditional boom-bap.

But while the aforementioned were toying with breezy funk and soul samples, Dilated went straight gutter on the beats.

Ev handled about half the production, a still up-and-coming Alchemist (@Alchemist) sat behind the boards for a few tracks, and they even got some joints from two of the most underrated rap producers from the 90s – Kutmasta Kurt (@kutmastakurt) and the god T-Ray (@venicefreakshow) – the latter of whom is now taking pleasure in being the star of his own freak show reality program instead of making dope records!

I mean, this guy has won a few Grammy Awards, for fuck’s sake!

Either way, the Platform will always hold a special place in my heart and it still stands up to this day.

I started losing interest in Dilated by the time they released Neighborhood Watch. They seemed to hit a period of stagnation; aside from the odd standout, the records were starting to feel like retreads.

Saying that, it has now been seven years (7!!) since their last record together and I have high hopes for their comeback album, Directors of Photography, due out on Rhymesayers (@rhymesayers) sometime in 2014.

Also, the downtime has blessed us with some amazing solo project from Ev as the Weatherman.

Not to mention that he and the Alchemist have a collaborative album due out by the end of the year.

This is another terrific episode. We even become privy to a choice story involving JAY Z (@S_C_) and a pre-fame Kanye West (@kanyewest).

Evidence is one of those rare producers who appear to have no particular rhyme or reason when it comes to organizing their vinyl.

Some of his pieces are in straight up bad condition. It makes me a little uncomfortable.

In any case, he certainly knows what he’s doing with all that wax. Enjoy this one.

(According to the schedule, October is going to be a great month with new episodes focusing upon the Gaslamp Killer (@GASLAMPKILLER) and Rjd2 (@rjd2) dropping on the 2nd and 16th, respectively.)

Take a look at episode no. 31 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.

Follow on Twitter – @fusetv
And series creator, Jason Newman@Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: DJ Eclipse


You already know.

The best music series on the internet is back. Here we go with another fresh episode of Crate Diggers.

This week, we get an exclusive peek into the home of DJ Eclipse (@ItsDJEclipse) – formerly of Non Phixion, host of the Halftime Show / Rap is Outta Control, and member of the world famous Rock Steady Crew.

Dude estimates his collection currently sits at about 28,000 pieces and it shows.

Every room of this man’s house is literally filled with records.

It is quite a spectacle. It would be a privilege to comb those rooms just to be able to see some of those jewels in person.

Also, it must be said that I agree 100% with his “survival of the fittest” sentiments at the end of the segment.

Another massive installment in the series. Fantastic episode with a genuinely knowledged head.

Take a look at episode no. 30 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.

Follow on Twitter – @fusetv
And series creator, Jason Newman@Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: DJ Tony Touch


It has been a long three weeks since the last episode of Crate Diggers.

Frankly, I am always pleased when the series is focused upon people associated with rap.

They just always seem to have the better record collections.

Tony Touch (@DJTONYTOUCH) estimates his own stockpile is comprised of about 15,000 pieces of wax.

I referenced his latest release, PieceMaker3: Return of the 50 MC’s, in this blog post after he leaked some new Eminem (@Eminem) a couple months back on his own Shade 45 radio show.

Tony is a legend in this rap shit.

After you watch this episode, be sure to check out the 50 exclusive webisodes he shared from his personal vaults in the leadup to his latest LP.

Most of it is must-see material that can’t be found anywhere else.


Take a look at episode no. 29 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.

Follow on Twitter – @fusetv
And series creator, Jason Newman@Jasonrnewman

#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. VII: Video Games


(no Lana Del Rey)

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I was pretty excited to partake in this week’s #GuelphMusicClub assignment.

I’m going to go in a whole bunch of directions with this one so bear with me.

When it comes to my favourite video game music, it would be impossible to narrow it down to only one song.

Saying that, there are two choices that immediately came to mind and I have to acknowledge them both here.

To start, let it be said that the Legend of Zelda series has already been listed and rightfully so.

A lot of people will immediately think of Super Mario Bros. when it comes to legendary video game music, the impact of which cannot be questioned.

However, the score to the Zelda games are just as iconic, perhaps even more so in the eyes (ears?) of the really nerdy 80s babies.

I have never owned a Nintendo 64 so while I hear many people say that Ocarina of Time represents the pinnacle of the series, I am partial to A Link to the Past from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) console.

Many hours were spent playing this game to completion. To this day, I consider it to be one of the most perfect games ever made.

Whenever I used to bring Link to the Great Fairy Fountain, I would take some time to reflect and listen to this loop over and over..

“Fairy Fountain”
from the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES – 1991)

Dreamy, huh?

Am I just on some nostalgia shit or is that not a great fucking melody!?

Actually, if you wanna get familiar with some awesome Zelda music in an unconventional way, check out Team Teamwork‘s awesome free tape, the Ocarina of Rhyme.

Here’s the remix they put together using my pick as the main sample:

Slim Thug & Mike Jones – “Still Tippin’ (Team Teamwork remix)”
from the Ocarina of Rhyme (2009)

And just in case you want to compare it against the original.. 😀

Mike Jones – “Still Tippin'” (feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall)
from Who is Mike Jones? (2004)

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As I implied earlier, this is going to be a very self-indulgent post..

Keep in mind, Zelda was my 1A, so to speak, with this next one serving as my 1B.

MATTAFAK, I guess that means these picks are kinda like the Leafs (@MapleLeafs) goaltending situation, except not shitty. U MAD???

My next pick is taken from one of the most badass games of the 90s, Donkey Kong Country.

Nintendo really turned a corner with this game. You could say their partnership with Rare was the video game equivalent of Disney linking up with Pixar.

You remember how crazy those graphics were?

I mean, they managed to make a gorilla riding a big-ass ostrich look realistic as fuck.

my man ride a rhino no sweat too tho

rhinos ain’t no thing neither

I always fucksed with the underwater levels pretty heavy in this game.

And that leads me to..

“Aquatic Ambience”
from Donkey Kong Country (SNES – 1994)

Honestly, I still listen to this track to this day.

I like to claim responsibility for introducing this one to the Ambient Chillout & Trip Hop room on (@turntablefm) back when that was still the spot.

(that goes double for Blue Sky Black Death [@BSBDmusic] but I digress)

Can you believe this game was so popular that they actually pressed the soundtrack to disc under the name DK Jamz?

And it sold fairly well, I remember when it was on the walls of my local HMV (@hmvcanada).

Talk about different times!

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I also just wanted to touch upon how rich the audio side of video game development has become.

In his latest #GuelphMusicClub contribution, Mat Calverley (@matcalverley) was the first to mention composer Jeremy Soule, a man who I became familiar with upon the completion of Skyrim – the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls series.

The music was so integral to the experience of that game that I didn’t think it could be topped.

And surely not so soon.

But Gustavo Santaollala may have done just that with his score for the Last of Us.

Please watch the following video:

The soundtrack in its entirety is something else. I highly recommend checking it out.

These video games are really upping the ante now that the original scores are coming courtesy of Academy Award winning composers!

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Just for kicks – some select video game samples in RAP!!

Camu Tao – “Death”
from King of Hearts (2010)

sample taken from Ranger X
(Sega – 1993)

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Statik Selektah – “Punch Out” (feat. Big Shug)
from Spell My Name Right (2007)

sample taken from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
(Nintendo – 1987)

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People Under the Stairs – “Gamin’ on Ya”
from FUN DMC (2008)

sample taken from …
TOO MANY TO COUNT!! YOU TELL ME!! (in the comments, perhaps?)

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Kudos if you got to the end of this post!
I had fun with it!

Crate Diggers: Young Guru


For some time now, has been producing what has become one of my favourite web-series – Crate Diggers.

Typically uploading new episodes on alternating Wednesdays, the show focuses upon exploring the vinyl collections of established artists across a variety of genres (although there is a heavy hip-hop focus).

It is must-watch material, not only for aspiring producers, beat heads, and sample nerds, but there is enough knowledge and history on display in each episode for the average music geek to appreciate.

This latest installment spotlights the wax of long-time Jay-Z (@S_C_) engineer and Grammy Award nominee, Young Guru (@Young_Guru).

Take a look at episode no. 26 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
In particular, last week‘s episode with Egon (@nowagain), as well as the comprehensive J Dilla piece (found here), are absolutely outstanding.