GANGSTARR “Side A & Side B” A story about archiving cassette tapes. Words by Mark Bijasa aka Button Pusha.
My obsession with tapes began early just like everybody. Growing up on tapes. The first tape I ever bought was a Nice & Smooth cassingle called “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow.” I was like 11 years old. During that time, the radio played groups like Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Arrested Development, Naughty By Nature, ATCQ, Digable Planets and so on. Saving up lunch money and running down to Sam Goody to cop cassingles, maxi-singles and full albums was the weekly routine. Cassettes were the shit. I loved opening up the album and pulling out the insert to read all the credits. Whether it was reading about how I can order a T-shirt, finding song names revealed on the sample credits or learning about how I can join the Temple of Hip Hop or the Wu-Tang Clan; tapes always brought a multi-dimensional experience. First of all, you had to listen to the tape from beginning to end. It’s not like a cd where you could just skip around. You could fast forward a tape but if you were impatient like me, I would just let it roll and eventually any album on cassette would begin to grow on me. The result is having to listen to the album in its entirety. Compare this to today’s mp3/playlist world; albums merely get picked apart and rarely get listened to as a whole. With tapes, it was common to know most albums from beginning to end. I knew exactly when to flip the tape to get the beginning of a favorite song. I mean you would actually have to remember the song titles. Call it nostalgia but listening to tapes was such a different experience from a cd or mp3. Call me a caveman but I still have a tape deck in my whip. Fast forward a few years later and tapes just became an obsession. While digging for records at Thrifts and swapmeets, I started to see tapes laying around. Fifty cents and sometimes a quarter. I kept this up for a few years. My primary focus became finding Classic Hip Hop tapes. I eventually would start asking friends if they still had their tape collections. One time I posted a status update on Facebook asking if anybody still had their tape collections. I randomly got a message from an old high school friend who I hadn’t spoken to in 15+ years. Long story short, she still had her tape collection. We linked up and you how the rest of the story goes. The collection included various ATCQ albums, a Boogie Monsters Cassingle, and an Artifact’s Cassingle for “Wrong Side Of The Tracks.” More and more incidents like this continued so did the tape accumulation. There are still a lot of tapes that I’m after but none more so than the Guru/Gangstarr catalog. Gangstarr is one of my personal favorite hip hop groups of all time. I noticed that finding their albums on cassette weren’t easy. As soon as I copped one, I would learn about another one that existed. I started with collecting all the albums which would eventually lead to searching for all the cassingles (which I have yet to complete.) There are still many elusive promo copies that exist which remain at the top of my list. In addition to the Gangstarr catalog, I also went on a quest to find Guru’s Jazzmatazz albums. Record stores and the internet are pretty much the best way to find anything on cassette.
NO MORE MR NICE GUY
HARD TO EARN
JAZZMATAZZ: STREETSOUL VOL.3
EX GIRL TO THE NEXT GIRL