Dukes is a beatsmith, historian and mailman hailing from the south of The Netherlands. He knows more about politics than you and is as nuanced as a brick through you car’s front window. This is his exclusive column for TRU. (the opinions expressed by Dukes are solely those of Dukes and do not represent the TRU board of editors).
I’m a collector. It’s a family thing. My granddad had a huge jazz collection on vinyl. When his sons gave him a new hi-fi system which played CDs he didn’t hesitate for a second. What did he do? He started back listing off course. My dad? Same thing. I remember playing with my toy space shuttle while vibing to his War of the Worlds LP when I was a toddler. In the little filing cabinet my parents had in their livingroom, one of drawers between the administrative paraphernalia contained my fathers’ bootleg tape collection. I remember my older cousin appreciating my dad’s rock collection, which was up pretty to date until the day we lost MTV (This was 1995 when MTV actually played music instead of showing teen moms, losers being Made and New Jersey white trash wildin’ out) and we got a shitty Euro house channel to replace it. And my mom is an avid book collector. So to say I have a natural disposition for collecting would be the understatement of the year.
Spotify has been a blessing to me. Not that I use it, but a lot of people here get rid of their collections for dirt cheap because they switched to Spotify, which gives collectors like me the opportunity to get hold of records I thought I would never ever possess. Fuck a mp3 collection. You’re never in your life gonna hear a interesting story of how someone bought a rare soul classic for 99 cents in iTunes, but I can listen to tales of how my friends got hold of their favorite albums in the physical form all day long. I don’t have a clue which mp3 I downloaded first, but I remember buying my first real hiphop album like it was yesterday (Method Man’s Tical 2000 Judgment Day) after begging my mom to let me spend my months of saved up allowance on it. She wasn’t exactly over the moon with her twelve year old son copping it when she saw the artwork with the Jaws teeth. We literally had to go to at least ten record stores until we found a store that had it. From that moment on, I got the bug.
Every album in my collection got a personal story. I remember where I bought The Cold Vein (Tommy’s in Tilburg, the best record store to ever have blessed Brabant), Wu-Tang Forever (the mom and pop record shop in the small town where I grew up), The Psycho Realm (first record bought in Amsterdam). Foreign record shopping has been good to me too. Beats for Brothels volume II? Got that for four euro’s during HipHop Kemp ‘cause the Doppelgangaz probably didn’t figure out the exchange rate between the dollar and the Czech koruna. And, in my defense, it was the only bill I had besides a larger one which they didn’t wanna accept. All We Got Iz Us (bought that in Prague after some friends recommended it to me), Return of the Mac (got that during my internship in Zagreb), Curtis Mayfield’s Short Eyes (my first and last Japanese import – for a liner note junkie like me Japanese liner notes are like a broad faking her orgasm – just not the real thing), The UN’s UN Or U Out (my first eBay purchase, bought it dirt cheap from some Australian) are all good priced purchases that where hard to obtain back home. All my friends have similar stories and I can listen to those all day. One of my co-workers is into heavy metal, now I don’t know anything about heavy metal, but we can connect over each other’s stories about buying cd’s, going to festivals and related things. Why? Same mentality when it comes to the culture. You know that movie High Fidelity? All time favorite.
Having a large mp3 collection without a physical collection next to it doesn’t say shit. It just means you can afford a good internet connection and a couple of large hard drives. I don’t care whether downloading is illegal or not, so is sampling and graffiti and I don’t have any issues with those things. It’s all about dedication. Downloading doesn’t show the kind of dedication that cycling for a hour back and forth in the pouring rain to your favorite record store in the hope that they have the record that you wanna buy does. And if they don’t have it, you just go back the next week and the week after that until they got it. No download can beat the feeling of finally finding that record you never thought you were gonna find, going home and listening to it back to back while reading the booklet. If you don’t go on holiday without a list of every record store in even the grimiest backstreets you ain’t really dedicated to this thing of ours. As long as the guys in your local record store don’t recognize you when you walk in but stare you down like a bunch of MS 13 members you ain’t on the level where you need to be at.