On 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.