Has the 45 Game Played Itself?

White label blank 45On a Monday Morning here at Flea Market Funk, we’re sitting in the office and the phone rings. It’s none other than Skeme Richards from Hot Peas & Butta. He asks if we’ve looked on social media yet? Of course we say. BUT, did we see Supreme La Rock’s stream? We hadn’t. The last words we heard were: “You might want to check it out….”. So of course we did. This is what we saw:

“Repost from DJ Scratch ・・・ I recently saw this dude do a all 45 set & 95% of his records was shit he got pressed up. No printing on the labels or nothing. In my humble opinion, If a song doesn’t exist on 45, don’t press it up at your local pressing plant. Don’t water down the vinyl culture. Because no matter how much you think it’s cool, n****s are calling you corny for playing self pressings. If you don’t have it, just play what you do have. You wouldn’t buy fake Jordans, so why buy fake records? It’s totally ok to just play Serato if you don’t have the vinyl. ‪#‎PreserveTheCulture‬”

Now the following repost started a shit storm of opinions and attitudes throughout the next few days. Dante Ross, Cut Chemist, Biz Markie, and a slew of well known record heads weighed in on the topic, which in our opinion, was one of the best discussions on 45s we have seen in a minute. It got us thinking…has the 45 game played itself?

When we started buying records, we got whatever we could get. If it was a cool 45, we bought it. If it was a 12″ or LP, well we grabbed it as well. However, we took a liking to the little records with big holes. We started leaning that way, buying more and more. We started doing nights playing all 45s (mostly funk and soul). We were hardly the first, but dedicated ourselves to the preservation of not just the vinyl, but of said seven inches. We met like minded people all over the world and connected, and the rest is history. During that time, we have seen 45 fads come and go. It was prompted mostly by the Brainfreeze and Product Placement phase, but it had been going on for much longer than that. The Northern Soul collectors (where you ONLY played originals) and deep funk explosion (same deal, all originals) led by DJs like Keb Darge had been doing their own thing on 45 since the early 70’s. Reggae vinyl culture always included 7″s and dubplates. DJs were playing their own pressed “carvers” in their sets. It wasn’t just lesser known DJs, bigger name DJs were pressing up tunes on 45 that were not on 45 for quite some time. We’ve seen it first hand and our attitude was ‘to each his own’. However, we are specifically speaking on the state of the 45 today. A 45 night is now considered trendy. Everyone is a 45 DJ, and the record industry is eating it up. We wouldn’t be surprised if we see some big company getting involved in the 45 game to sell more of whatever they peddle because it’s hot again right now. They’ll just sponsor DJ _______ (insert a name) to play 45s of common songs, sell their product, and get John Q. Public to start scouring his local thrift shop or once a year on Record Store Day for Culture Club on 7″. They’ll exclaim from a pile of 45 cases: “I know we said vinyl is cool again, but now 45s are cooler! But when does this fad of the medium go too far? We think it has, and is watering down the forty five game.

Do your due diligence, get out and dig. Ask an old head, go to a record shop and spend all day looking for drum breaks and build up your arsenal. Get that experience as opposed to hopping on the bandwagon. Stay in your lane, or put in work that’s necessary. People are playing records on 45 just to say it’s on 45. That’s making the medium trendy. DJs who never played 45s before are buying up collections of 45s to be a 45 DJ.

There are no rules in the DJ game these days. Back in the day, you had people covering labels, putting records in the wrong sleeve, and whatever tactic they had to do to keep their records secret. The first to dig it up, play it out, reaped the benefits of getting tied to discovering that record or break. Today, things are different. If you see another DJ playing a record you want, you can find it on Discogs or ebay, and with a push of a button, it could be here before your next gig. Take it a step further and just download it for your Serato routine. It’s done quite often and since Serato is not frowned upon like it used to be, even by major DJs who swore they’d never go microwave, we are all used to it. We play Serato on certain gigs here, it’s just the natural progression of the technology and industry. We have downloaded tracks. However, we’ve never pressed up our own vinyl of a track we wanted. IMHO, it’s too expensive (but considerably less than an original) to just press stuff up, and we’d rather just get a reissue if we wanted it that bad. Hopefully the reissuing record label is compensating the artist (again another factor to consider). Now before you raise your hand and start talking about how it happens in reggae all the time, it’s just part of that culture, so we can toss it out. It’s integrated into Jamaican vinyl culture. Some argue that these days it’s just about the music, no matter how you present it. If the DJ is dope, rocking the crowd, it doesn’t matter if it’s on bootlegs or not. That’s the DJs job, to move the crowd. If it’s on CDJs, vinyl, Serato, Traktor, or bootleg records, then it doesn’t matter. That is a salient point. Rock the party, make them dance, you’re a success. We think it does matter in the case of 45s. Your records define you. There are DJs who have been doing this for decades, discovered a 45 and may have one of the very limited copies of it. Then all of a sudden Joe 45 (who was probably spinning trap gigs because that was trendy) starts pressing up his own wax, gets heard by some promoter and is on the scene doing all 45 gigs. That, we think is wack. Put your work in. Do your due diligence, get out and dig. Ask an old head, go to a record shop and spend all day looking for drum breaks and build up your arsenal. Get that experience as opposed to hopping on the bandwagon. Stay in your lane, or put in work that’s necessary. People are playing records on 45 just to say it’s on 45. That’s making the medium trendy. DJs who never played 45s before are buying up collections of 45s to be a 45 DJ. That’s not why we got into it. We wanted records that didn’t make the LP, or were made in small quantities regionally that weren’t on a major. Or if they were on a major, they were just a quality record that was overlooked. It is the thrill of that chase that keeps us going. We also were tired of carrying crate after crate to gigs, and figured out you could bring a large 7″ flight case or a few boxes depending on the duration of the show. It was an evolution, and it worked for us. All in all, we did it, simply put, for the music and most of it happened that it could only be found on 45. The originality of each track, whether it was Kellee Patterson covering Barry White or one of the dozen or so funky covers of “Spooky” that kept us reaching out for more. I don’t need to rock doubles of “Billie Jean” on 45, I’ve got the LPs thanks. I’d rather spend time trying to find some 45 that I can share through Flea Market Funk as well as a live gig.

Bottom line, the 45 fad is just that, a fad. It will come and go again. Those who have been playing 45s for a long time will continue to do so no matter what. Those new heads that want to get on the map by pressing up their own 7″ or old heads who have made the money to buy a mountain of 45s because it’s now cool, will be on to the next thing once forty fives are watered down like drinks in a shitty bar. In a perfect world, everyone plays originals and has their own identity because rare records are just that, rare. We live in an imperfect world, where factors such as bootlegs, reissues, and the opportunity to press your own record exists. Hell, everyone can’t have every original record, supply and demand rules apply. That being said, we would not press up our own records to play because we’d rather spend more time looking for original records and exposing them to our audience. We will play the reissue if we have to, but would like to stick to originals because that’s our identity. We are defined by the music we choose to spin, and in some cases the medium it’s on. We are not the final authority on 45s, but just super passionate about them. So we would like to think the 45 hasn’t played itself out sometimes. As it moves to a mainstream trend though, it’s hard not to lean towards the other opinion: the 45 is playing itself out. That’s not stopping us though, we will still do 45 nights of rare and hard to get 45s because they’re good, not because they’re a 45. You do what you think is the right thing.

9 responses to “Has the 45 Game Played Itself?

  1. I believe the increase in “45 only” nights is due in part because vinyl DJs, who had made the switch to Serato, now had the opportunity to flex their digging skills – which is lost when playing mp3s. 45s carry an “authentic” aura with them, which diminished in LPs and 12s as Serato control vinyl shares the same shape and size. When a DJ pulls out a 45, you know it’s vinyl, and not an mp3. Of course, reissues are available, as are “carvers,” but we can all agree that the latter are scarce. To answer your question, I don’t think the 45 game has played itself. Those who buy, trade, enjoy, and spin 45s will continue to do so. Those who recently jumped on the bandwagon, well, we’ll probably see them trading in their 7s for whatever is hot next. 78s?

  2. “Everyone’s a 45s DJ”? “45s nights are trendy”? Could somebody please let the bar-going community in Cincinnati in on this secret? I’ve been struggling to get 40 people out on a weekend night, for years. Running funk, soul, and reggae nights.

  3. What’s with all the bitter / jaded DJ’s? DJ Scratch? Really? SMH Not a good look.

    I also don’t see this 45 craze as super popular as the internet says it is. There are 3 DJ’s in my town that play 45’s and they’ve been doing it way before brainfreeze was even a demo. They will be doing it long after it’s not cool anymore i’m sure. I think serato is still a bigger problem as it’s attached to free downloading and zero start-up costs. If DJ’s are paying money for the actual record then wouldn’t that be better than downloading it for free? Or is this whole thing about status among insecure douchebag DJ’s who just hate being outdone by competition and want their comfort zone to remain intact in the 45 world? If new jack DJ’s buying 45’s are a threat to you, maybe it’s time to hang up the 1200’s or step your digging game up or pick better music to play.

    People come to dance to MUSIC not check out “original pressings”.

  4. Good points on the comment. Thanks for contributing. For me, it’s not being bitter or jaded at all. It’s free world, if someone wants press records up they can. Do I think it’s right? IMHO, no, I’d rather see someone put in the time to dig and contribute to the vinyl/ DJ culture when so many others DJs are defined by the records they dig up. I’m not threatened at all, and realize you can’t have all the rare records. BUT, you can have your records that you dig up. If everyone went around pressing up their own vinyl, it would just dilute the game further, and we’d all be playing the same bangers day in and day out. Bandwagon hoppers are just that, and they will fade away as quick as they came I do agree with you. This has nothing to do with insecurity at all, it’s just an observation that we’ve seen over the last few years that seems to be getting more popular: play a record on 45 because it’s on 45. That we think is kind of silly. We also agree that it’s about the music, but if that’s the case, then why make the point about Serato? It’s still about the music, no? This article was in no way to be uppity, but to just get some like minded individuals talking about the subject. We think it has, and appreciate you getting in on the conversation. Cheers.

  5. I personally don’t think that there are enough people pressing up their own vinyl for it to even be threatning to the DJ’s who have been doing this 45 thing before the word “craze” was ever attached to it.

    On the flipside (pun not intended) the digging game is limited as there are only so many records in the world and a lot of the best stuff has been unearthed in the past 40 years. I think quality contributions to the vinyl game is only going to help future diggers. And to be honest, I want this digging culture to survive long after our generation is gone. All we can teach the young ones is about quality. But they have to develop their own taste and inspire more people than just “us” purists.

    I’ve been digging since the 80’s and even when people were pressing up their own records (Double D and Steinski and that “Feelin James” record for example) it wasn’t a threat and actually helped inspire other DJ’s and / or remixers. I think it’s absolutely vital that the freedom to press up your own records continues.

    Of course there will be some wack records and self appointed important DJ’s. That’s a given. But just like in the 80’s, unless you joined a DJ pool, most of those wack records won’t been on your radar unless you purposely search them out. Much in the same way that I could care less about some jerk off guy pressing one copy of a record for his own purposes, the digging world shouldn’t care either. Narcissism among DJ’s would manifest itself in another form if they didn’t have that option anyway. it’s human nature & It’s unavoidable.

    But in that pool of wack self-important DJ’s who flood the market, there is probably one that NEEDS to be heard eventually. One that will grown into the talent to back it up and shed off that wack skin and be humble later. Cause honestly, we all started out inexperienced and wack. Nobody excluded. the strong survive the weak pack up and leave in 6 months and the cycle continues.


  6. 2 points I’d like to make
    1/ I can see that self pressing a ‘hard to get’ tune is wack….but to me it’s different to press a 7 of a tune that was never a 7 if you’re a serious 7″ head …I’ve personally always dreamed of pressing a 7 of Taj Mahal’s ‘Chevrolet ‘ …wish that tune was on 7 baaaad .

    2/ Did Reggae dj’s self press 7’s….I haven’t heard of that . Of course reggae djs have always pressed up dubs but thats different…..but if Reggae dj’s did self press older tunes its a bit different because the whole scene was 7s not too long ago .

  7. Certain venues in the UK now have cameras above the decks and project onto screens so the punters can check out the authenticity of the media. Long live the 45.

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