They just don’t make it like they used to!
It’s a phrase often used to describe all sorts of “things” in our lives; be it clothes, cars or anything that means anything to us. But in this case, I refer to the type of music rather than the record pressing itself.
Backpacker rap. Indie rap. Or must independent music. Before such monikers were applied to the musical output of El-P. Before El Producto was popularised for his solo albums from the early to mid-noughties. Before the mass appeal of Jamie Moline’s Run the Jewels projects (they’ve now released 4!) with the powerhouse rapper that is Killer Mike.
Company Flow’s first LP represents the prime of late 90s underground hiphop music, pressed up on the-long-since-defunct record label Rawkus Records in 1997. It represents a period New York City rap music that was hardly accessible to the average fan of hip hop music. At the time of it’s release, I owned the CD version when because I remember buying it from Soul Sense, just off George Street where all current music from the R&B/Rap/HipHop/Soul/Funk genre was available. Rap music was not a popular genre, particularly when compared to how it exists here in now in the modern music streaming era. And so the fact that this album is not available on any of the streaming services; puts further resonance to its existence in my music collection.
I finally acquired the vinyl release in 2019, before the pandemic situation we find ourselves in here and now. At one of my favourite music stores, Egg Records in Newtown. I lived in Marrickville at the time, and would occasionally wonder down through Newtown via Enmore, to vist the likes of Papa Disquo, Repressed Records, and Halcyon Daze.
At Egg Records, I rarely look at the second display wall, not the wall immediately on one’s left upon entry to the store which also displays t-shirts, but the second wall of displayed records on the right, just after the glass shop counter. Because 2nd hand hip hop music, is just not that popular or readily available.
But there it was, barely propped up and somehow magically pinned to the black felt covered wall, piercing the clear plastic sleeve that enshrined the 22-year-old record. The distinct blueish purple hued painted cover of two alien-like creatures with the words: COMPANY FLOW plastered at the top of the cover, was screaming at me. My internalised excitement could barely be contained.
Before I could reach up to retrieve the artifact before me, I looked over at Baz at the counter, he was busy cleaning what appeared to be an endless pile of second hand records, and asked when it had arrived.
“It came in last week, but I only just put it up this morning” said Baz.
“I wasn’t sure what to price it” he added.
I looked at him in amazement. The price was irrelevant. I had to have it. I didn’t bother checking Discogs on my phone either. I inspected the condition of the records briefly and could tell it was immaculate. Clearly Baz had cleaned it thoroughly as he normally does. And with a few breaths it was paid for, bagged and carefully tucked in under my arm.
I couldn’t wait to go home and transport myself back to that time and place of hip hop history, and in my mind, the glory days indie rap music.