Theotis Taylor – Something Within Me


Title: Something Within Me
Artist: Theotis Taylor
Label: Big Legal Mess
Formats: LP, Digital
Release date: June 29, 2018


Gospel singer and pianist Theotis Taylor was born in 1920 in Fitzgerald, Georgia and grew up singing in the local Baptist church where his father was a deacon. In 1946 he joined the Georgia Harmoniers but went solo five years later, performing in churches throughout the South and cutting several singles for the Pitch label out of Savannah (he’s featured on the 2010 compilation, The Pitch/Gusman Records Story).  In 1977, a representative of the American Folklife Center visited Taylor at his home in Fitzgerald to record a short interview for the South-Central Georgia Folklife Project, which also features an impromptu performance. Taylor was still in fine voice at this time, and it was just two years later that he recorded tracks for a debut album. Apparently, the project that was never commercially released and the master tapes were recently given to the Music Maker Relief Foundation and remastered for this album.  Continue reading

Maxwell – Embrya 20th Anniversary Reissue


Title: Embrya 20th Anniversary Reissue
Artist: Maxwell
Label: Sony Music
Formats: 2-LP
Release Date: September 28, 2018


Maxwell’s sophomore album, Embrya, was released in 1988 at the peak of the neo-soul movement and changed the course of the singer’s career. The seductive ballads and slow grooves of tracks such as “Matrimony: Maybe You” resonated with his female fan base, who propelled the album to #2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart and earned Maxwell a Grammy Award nomination for best R&B album. Continue reading

Jermaine Dupri Presents So So Def 25


Title: Jermaine Dupri Presents So So Def 25
Artist: Various
Label: Certified Classics
Formats: LP, Digital
Release Date: October 19, 2018


Released in honor of So So Def’s 25th anniversary, So So Def 25 pays tribute to the pioneering Atlanta-based label with a collection of its hip-hop and R&B hits. Curated by So So Def founder Jermaine Dupri, the compilation has been released on a 12” vinyl collector’s edition by Sony Music’s Certified Classics. Featured artists include Jay-Z, Bow Wow, Ghost Town DJ, Aaliyah, and many more. Scattered amongst the So So Def classics are rarer tracks like Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married (Kanye West Remix)”—one of Kanye’s early verses—as well as an explicit version of “Da B Side” by Da Brat with an alternative verse by The Notorious B.I.G. Additional playlists celebrating the anniversary can be found on So So Def’s website. Continue reading

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