Sunday, November 26, 2006

TOP 10 BARGAIN BIN BANGERS

As the music industry packs itself up in a handbasket and wanders wearily to a dark and hot place underneath the Earth's surface and CDs become basically more valuable as lids to leftover sauerkraut, we really need to examine some CDs that commonly pass through clearance tables only on their way to the trash (or fridge depending on your intented use). Trust me, I'm a scavenger and I'll search those tables endlessly looking for gems. I once found Zhiggie's debut record, Jeru the Damaja's Wrath of the Math and the Diabolical Biz Markie record all in one visit. Going through a clearance table in the backroads of Oklahoma is like being the first to fish a freshly stocked pond and the bargains you'll find are unreal.
Below, I've listed the top ten of my past bargain bin finds. Honestly, there are better records I've found, but I've singled these out because I most commonly see these and they sit there collecting dust waiting for you, the soon-to-be educated consumer to come sweep them up for probably less than you could by a burger and fries. Hey, in the world we live in, you save as much as you can so consider them a blazing bargain for the cultural and history lesson you'll receive simultaneously.
Rodney at Fat Laces, thanks for the inspiration for the post. I'll start with the record that birthed the entire brainstorm.
DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE
HE'S THE D.J., I'M THE RAPPER
Jive
1988




Total Soundscan: 332,547 units

Current Average Weekly Soundscan 3.4 units

What Made It Big:

"Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Nightmare On My Street"

What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
It'll forever be discounted as a throw-away, flash-in-the-pan pop record and, in reality, it's just that. But it's not only that. Surprisingly, it only scanned 330,000 records because you couldn't avoid the two lead singles off this record if you tried. Damn thing didn't even go platinum. Whatta shame. But out of embarrassment, those 330,000 owners of this record have all sold it back in confidentiality to their local used store. They did so without realizing two great things about this record. Firstly (and rather shamefully) is Fresh Prince (now the uber-Denzel wannabe, family-film superstar Will Smith) recorded at a live show in Union Square shotcallin' the audience including the not so P.C. request for "all the people with A.I.D.S. be quiet!" So young. So stupid. Secondly and more importantly is this album is a fantastic account of DJ Jazzy Jeff's accomplishments as a turntablist. With the ability to pick this album up for $.99 at your local used dealer, it's an absolute steal.


POSITIVE K
SKILLS DAT PAY DA BILLS
Polygram
1992
Total Soundscan: 181,736 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.0 units
What Made It Big:
"I Got a Man" (which sold 543,849 units as a single)
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Positive K will probably win the "Who the Hell Sang That?" Award so long as he lives, but remember this: that song was everywhere back in 1992. And for those lucky enough to actually hear the full record, there's enough heat on there to light up any house party. Positive K, believe it or not, had worked with MC Lyte and even Brand Nubian. The cat had his ties yet because he hit the pop format, he got chewed up and spit out. With tracks like "Nightshift" (and the super tasty remix) and "Carhoppers," Skills Dat Pay Da Bills is well worth the price of $.78. I mean, the fact that Big Daddy Kane produced the original "Nightshift" makes it easily worth a dollar. You're just gonna have to trust me. Plus, there's always time to hear "I Got a Man" again because that single was uncut dope. Stop frontin'.



HOUSE OF PAIN
HOUSE OF PAIN
Tommy Boy
1992
Total Soundscan: 1,937,402 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 80 units
What Made It Big:
"Jump Around"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Besides the fact that "Jump Around" will still light up any place like a molotov cocktail, this album had some really deep cuts on it. Everlast and Danny Boy (not Tim Robbins) did their damn thing on this record yet the schtick worn thin, Everlast grabbed a guitar and started singing songs about addiction and heartbreak. Yikes. And he did it on the same label that put out House of Pain. Most people would've gotten booted for such antics. Everlast sold almost 3,000,000 of that solo record which was half the record of House of Pain's second record, much less this hard-hitter. "Shamrocks and Shenanigans," Life Goes On," "Top O' the Morning To Ya," man, this is a great record. Still is. When you see a brick of them in the bargain bin, cop one for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Most likely, if you see a brick, over three quarters of them are going to be the clean version. I guarantee you this.




NAUGHTY BY NATURE
NAUGHTY BY NATURE
Tommy Boy
1991

Total Soundscan: 1,794,246 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 9.6 units
What Made It Big:
"O.P.P." and "Everything's Gonna Be Alright"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Look, Naughty By Nature had flow. I'm gonna put it down. When these dudes came out, you swore they were gonna change the game and Tommy Boy put out a record that stood a serious chance of doing that. Unfortunately, it featured a track called "O.P.P." which took them to an altitude that not even the strongest safety net will break your inevitable fall. They sold over a million units of the single and still managed to scan close to 1.8 of the full length along with a few thousand of those awesome Naughty By Nature hoodies. Once "O.P.P." started going through the licensing stage of its maturity, the album's sales were halted almost immediately. You can find that damn song on almost every rap compilation ever put together. But even cheaper is this deliciously slamming debut record. Treach and Vinnie did that damn thing on this frantic, rapid-fire, bass-heavy masterpiece. Sure, it might sound dated, but at a price as low as $.58, it's like a fine antique at a Goodwill price. Don't be a snob.




KRIS KROSS
TOTALLY KROSSED OUT
Ruffhouse
1992

Total Soundscan: 4,001,842 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 15.4 units
What Made It Big:
"Jump"
What Makes It Worth the Biggedy-Bargain Bin Purchase:
Jermaine Dupri-produced pint-size rhymeslayers talking about run-ins with the boys in blue and kickin flavor to the ladies. This here is forty-swiggin music, fellas. Okay, in all seriousness, can you believe they sold 2.1 million of that single?! All that aside, the jokes of the music industry actually made a fairly decent record. Sure, their voices get mad annoying after maybe three tracks, but if they'd put out an instrumental of this record, you could sell it to diggers around the globe for $20 a pop. "Can't Stop the Bum Rush," "The Way of Rhyme," and "Lil Boys In Da Hood" are all bona fied although it's difficult to play even in a room by yourself without chuckling out loud at the silliness of this project. But with its lowest price dropping to $.20, for less than the price of a soda, you can adopt to jobless aged kiddy rappers. Don't delay, do it today.




TONE LOC
LOC'D AFTER DARK
Delicious Vinyl
1987


Total Soundscan: *unknown, although I can't name one kid who didn't have it growing up.
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 21.6 units
What Made It Big:
"Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
I'm-a put it this way: joke if you want, Tone made a classic with this After Dark. I don't mean classic in a Criminal Minded sense. I mean for a buck or less, you can't find better hip hop. Dead serious. Look past "Wild Thing" and "Medina" to tracks like "On Fire," "Cuttin' Rhythms" or the title track and dude had it goin' on. Certainly having the Dust Brothers (later responsible for the likes of Beck's Odelay, Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and, er, Hanson) behind the boards can't hurt the project, but add to it Tone's limited rhyming abilities and this is as fine and downright silly hip hop albums that the price of a box of paper clips can buy.


YOYO
MAKE WAY FOR THE MOTHERLODE
Atlantic
1991
Total Soundscan: 231,754 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.1 units
What Made It Big:
"You Can't Play Wit My Yo-Yo"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Recently, I had a pleasant chance run-in with YoYo (now Yolanda) and I reminisced to the beauty of this supersweet record which I, not but a month earlier, swiped from a $.49 bin. How tragic. But nonetheless, I couldn't resist. Why? Well, as Ice Cube's protege, I took it as a stamp of approval and then, upon noticing production credits from a "Delvon the Funkee Homo-sapien" (later to be simply "Del" or, for all you youngins, the guy who raps on the Gorillaz track "Clint Eastwood"), the power to purchase overwhelmed me and I didn't hesitate. From the first listen in years, I found it to be just as refreshing as the first time I heard it. It's like MC Lyte's lyrical prowess coupled with Latifah's boom. Guest verses from Cube and enough p-funk to tide you over 'til the next Dre record. Dude, what more do you want?


NICE & SMOOTH
AIN'T A DAMN THING CHANGED
Def Jam
1991
Total Soundscan: 326,001 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.0 units
What Made It Big:
"Sometimes I Rhyme Slow"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
I'll be the very first to tell you these dudes were mad corny. In my admittance, this record has got some magical material on it. Being that they barely scanned 300,000, most of you kiddies probably aren't familiar with the single "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" which didn't get played by popular radio so it makes it definitely worth it. As members of Gangstarr's posse, they at least get some posse points. Well-produced, lackluster rhyming, cheesy leather jackets on the cover and the typical crazy echo effect on every Greg Nice verse--this has the makings of a delightful listen. Check out "Down the Line," "Hip Hop Junkies" and "Sex, Sex, Sex" for additional freshness.


YOUNG MC
STONE COLD RHYMIN'
Delicious Vinyl
1991
Total Soundscan: *unknown, perhaps around 4,000,000 units.
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 2.4 units
What Made It Big:
"Bust a Move" and "Principal's Office"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Another old Delicious Vinyl sure shot. Young MC bursted onto the scene as your prototypical clean rapper. The kinda rapper you could bring home to mom. Nothing altogether fun about that except the dude did have some skills. Sure, you wouldn't be caught dead with this album around yo boys, but explain that it was produced by Quincy Jones, Jr., the Dust Brothers (again) and features Flea and you can easily justify the ownership of this record. The names aren't all that make this record though. "Non Stop" is the dopest track on this album. Just remember that. When everyone's asking to play "Bust a Move," do the right thing as an hip hop elitist and play "Non Stop" followed with "Know How" and represent snobbery to the fullest. Don't be surprised if you can find this for under $.50. Good pick-up.
PUBLIC ENEMY
GREATEST MISSES
Def Jam
1992
Total Soundscan: 371,556 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.5 units
What Made It Big:
Dude, it's Public Enemy.
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Amazing that a remix/outtake record by Public Enemy once scanned almost 400,000 records. In fact, it's incredible--standing as a testiment to PE's reach. Unfortunately, though, it staled rather quickly and the greatest miss it was ending up in bulk in clearance tables everywhere. It's actually quite baffling that this record was the first to sell back being that it's still better than 99% of the material they're putting out these days. Chuck's still on fire and Flav, well, you know...whatever. You won't find any other PE record this cheap so pick it up when you see it because it's inevitable you will. If you like it, then proceed to pick up the third, second and fourth PE records, yes, in that order.

4 comments:

K-Fleet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K-Fleet said...

Nice overview of each album. I have a few of these, and would gladly pick up the rest for pennies if I saw them. Rummaging through bargain bins just brings back memories, like "damn, why would someone sell that back?, or I was listening to this when I...." but then again, if they can get the single they want through download, they figure why keep the disks around to take up space. Call me lame, but I don't have an MP3 player yet, maybe I'm just too proud to give up on a format that's done me well and brought me many of happy days.

Norman said...

I think the number on Jazzy Jeff might be off due to SoundScan not starting until 1991. Or not. For the top 10 alt records my vote is for Afghan Whigs - Gentleman. So good.

Rodney said...

Some nice picks and individual write ups. Each one of them holds a respective place in hip hop. I totally agree with you on the PE Greatest Misses. This is one of my all time favorites, especially Hazy Shade of a Criminal. If you see PE in a bargain bin, grab it and run straight to the register and straight home from there. PE records are great to have in any hip hop afficianados collection.