Freddy Fresh Presents The Rap Records

Title: Freddy Fresh Presents The Rap Records
Author: Fredrick Schmid (aka Freddy Fresh)
Publisher: Nerby Publishing
Date: 2008; 2nd Rev. Ed.

Freddy Fresh recently published a revised and expanded version of his “Utlimate Vinyl Resource Book” for rap records. The first edition, published in 2004 in a limited printing of only 5,500 copies, received an Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Best Research in Recorded Rock or Rap Music. To the best of my knowledge, this was not only the first, but remains the only discography in print (at least in English) that covers 12″ rap and hip hop pressings (and the occasional 7″ 45 rpm).

The newly revised and expanded edition, at 744 pages, includes over 2,500 full color photos of record labels along with thousands of new titles, many sent to Freddy by collectors and DJs from around the world. Particular attention has been given to expanding the coverage of UK labels and artists (primarily from 1883-1993), as well as underground and private pressings from the U.S. According to the book’s preface, Freddy has maintained a database for over 25 years and tracks every rap record in his personal collection as well as every single rap record that he has been able to trace and verify. The primary focus is on rap titles released between 1979-1994, though later releases are occasionally included as are tracks that would be classified as electronic dance music. Whether or not Freddy plans to expand beyond the mid-1990s in future editions is unclear. There is certainly no shortage of vinyl being pressed in the 21st century.

The primary organization of the discography is alphabetical by record company, and the state or country (and occasionally the city) of origin is provided for most. Major rap labels such as Cold Chillin,’ Sugarhill, Tommy Boy, Jive and Def Jam are, of course, covered but do not take up as many pages as one might think. Open the book to just about any page and you can find entries are for labels that released only a handful of records: Catawba (South Carolina), Devaki (Cleveland), Freeze (New York), Heatwave (Santa Barbara, CA), JBM (Jacksonville, FL), Last Coast (Houston), One Little Indian (England), Straight Black (San Francisco), Three G’z (Michigan), Under Cover Productions (Chicago), Up Records (South Carolina), Urba Beat (Virginia), Wizatron (St. Louis), etc. Obviously this is an extremely useful tool for studying regional output. Entries under each company heading are then listed by catalog matrix number, followed by artist, song titles, release date, and occasional notes pertaining to genres, artists, format, etc. A “Star rating” (i.e., a 1-5 star ranking) has also been assigned to selected titles, though it is unclear what this is based on (the author’s personal recommendation?).

The master index is alphabetical by artist, followed by label and the geographic location of the company. No page numbers are given, but in most cases it is fairly easy to locate each artist under the label entry. Also beware that all names are given in direct order; that is, personal names such as Rick Rubin are entered thus, rather than last name, first name. This is easy to excuse since in the world of hip hop it can often be impossible to distinguish the artists’ real names from their “nom de rap.” Harder to excuse is the practice of including initial articles, thus there are several pages in the index beginning with “The.”

Freddy Fresh Presents The Rap Records is an invaluable resource for the serious collector of hip hop on vinyl, as well as for anyone researching hip hop. If you’ve only delved into commercial CD releases in the past, this discography will most certainly open your eyes to a whole new world of vinyl.

Posted by Brenda Nelson-Strauss