I'm obsessed with this tape cover:
Jeff aka Chairman Mao is co-partner of our favorite Hip-Hop empire ego trip, responsible for the seminal ego trip Magazine as well as publishing amazing books ego trip's Book of Rap Lists, ego trip's Big Book of Racism!, and the show they did for Vh1, ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show. Besides that, he was also a columnist & senior writer for XXL magazine & was a resident DJ at APT for nine years, and when he's not playing gigs he currently works on the egotripland.com blog site which is frrreeeeesssshhhh. True Playa foreal! Knowing Jeff's history in the Hip-Hop and rare groove scene, I knew he would be an awesome person to tap for some mixtape imagery.
The Chairman immediately sent me two tape covers in particular that really set this thing off for me. These two beautiful specimens are so inspiring I may ask him to re-issue a small run of cassette reissues so we can hear the sounds on these beauties. If you are lucky enough, you may have purchased these cassettes the first time around at the infamous LES (Lower East Side for the non New Yorkers) retail shop X-Large, owned by non other than iconic Hip-Hop stars the Beastie Boys, during the 90s.
We also talked about the old store in the LES called "HOUSE", a shop dedicated to selling underground mixtapes. The store literally had walls of Cassette mixtapes that you could browse through, and preview on twin Cassette Deck Listening Stations! Here is what Jeff ha to say about those days:
"Thinking back to those days I just remember the giddiness that permeated every new experience - the itch to learn & discover all the stuff you didn't know about, to hear new music from all different genres b/c everything felt so new & exciting, and just wanting to be a part of it. You really had to go around & try to figure it all out yourself. Shit wasn't just handed to you on a Google platter. But that was what made it fun."-Jeff
At some point we'll need to talk more in depth about the importance of the mix cassette to "the underground" long before the days of the internet.
He also sent me some pics of his impressive cassette collection, and he says this is just some of what he has. Who knows what else he can dig up. 90s Hip-Hop Cassette Heat:
Fear not, those rare groove sounds you love are not lost forever, people like Jeff and many others including myself are still dedicated and passionate about unearthing rare funky stuff for funky people to listen to. One of my favorite mixes that has been getting a lot of digital tape burn from me is Chairman Mao's Mix of Soul & Disco live on A Downtown Affair.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD HIS LIVE MIX ON A DOWNTOWN AFFAIR RADIO SHOW