Saturday, February 23, 2008

Still Nickle Plated but My Mind Obliterated from the Thai

Nonesuch Records has released a collection of songs featured on HBO's The Wire, including the Sharpshooters/Fourfifths track "Analyze." I mention this because The Wire may certifiably be the best show in the history of television, and because "Analyze" originally appeared on a record released by Conception, the label I used to own with the Sharpshooters (Mr. Supreme and Sureshot). We had no shortage of tension here and there and all went our separate ways—I moved to New York in the summer of 1999—but I want to congratulate those involved, and I wish everyone the very best. It's not a big deal to be on a compilation, but to me it's a big deal to be on The Wire compilation.

I remember being kind of annoyed that after we recorded that song, the acapella on m
y copy of OC's "Time's Up" 12" pretty much had a hole in front of the word "Analyze"—the part that got scratched for the hook. Now, I wouldn't give it up for...well, let's just say I'm glad to have the damaged copy.

It seems like a million years ago but I remember Sharpshooters were signed to Instinct/Shadow Records at the time, and the label didn't want to release vinyl. We had lunch with one of the label owners at the Five-Spot and worked it out so we could put the vinyl out on our label, Conception. Before the real record came out, we pressed up 200 white label copies to bring to San Francisco for the Gavin. We stayed at Beni B's apartment and Jake, Shane, Danny, Shelli and I all passed out copies at various parties. It was dope to be putting out our first record together and promoting it.

After that we signed to Sub Pop and put out a bunch more records, which I am thankful for, even though it turned out that they were in turmoil and not really in the position to distribute hip-hop records too well at that point. Everyone we worked with there was great, especially Kerri, Lisa, Bob the News Guy,
Megan, Jonathan, Eric—and Pat Riley and Kris Chen at ADA. The success we had was also largely due to the promotional efforts of Spyridon Nicon (proprietor of Spin's Barber Shop in Wallingford). I think we maybe put a few too many records out too quickly and could have benefited from retaining our own guerrilla tactics. Still, I look back now and think it was all good. It's all one big learning experience. (As a side note, it's great to see Sub Pop back on top again—it might be the best record label out there right now.)

Most of the Conception tracks have stood the test of time really well. Business-wise, I think each of us would probably have done some things differently, but I learned a ton from the experience, and I have immense respect for my old business partners and the strengths they brought to the table. I can say that every job I've done since then has been informed at least in part by my experience running a record label (yes, even working for Martha). It was an interesting time and I'm glad to have the records and knowledge to show for it.

Sharpshooters f/ Fourfifths Analyze MP3

Fourfifths Questions MP3

Unreleased/unmastered, produced by Jake One

The Wire soundtrack ...and All the Pieces Matter on Nonesuch Records

1 comment:

c. canoe said...

Working with you guys remains as a highlight of my tenure at Sub Pop. Agreed that virtually everything Conception released has stood the test of time.

It's hard, sometimes, to not lament what could have been, had our infrastructure been more solid at the time.

But, man, we got to do some cool shit and you guys put out some serious wax. Good times for all and it was definitely a learning experience.

So glad to see you blogging. Looks solid.