I’m sure I’d have been a relatively early adopter of CDs had the Tories not screwed the economy and the bank reclaimed our house at the same time as my father left my mother with colossal debts and two boys to bring up. So, as it happens I was pretty late onto the CD scene, the magical little rainbow discs and CD players being prohibitively expensive at a time when money had to go on coal to heat our newly rented central-heating-less Edwardian shack. The CD player finally came with one of my mother’s mid-90s boyfriends, along with a collection of Fawlty Towers videos. This was enough to temporarily win me and my brother over. The first CD that I personally bought to play in his precious black Sony box was a limited edition version of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ single, Give It Away. The track had been released a few years previously and I had owned it on tape but the CD re-release, which I bought from an indy record store in Banbury, had new tracks on it. The best of these, I recall, was the Friday Night Fever Blister remix of ‘If You Have to Ask’, a sort of rock-hip-hop-funk fusion track, also from their legendary Rick Rubin produced BloodSugarSexMagic. I remember when I played it to him, my mum’s boyfriend (let’s call him Keith the ***t) threatened to take the CD player away: The lyrics, typical of the band who bought us ‘socks on cocks’, are full of references to sex workers and drugs and I think he thought I’d end up as a smack addicted rent boy.
The most recent CD that I bought was an anthology of songs produced by the late legendary Detroit based hip-hop producer, Jay Dilla. It is called Dillanthology and is one of a glut of releases that have come out since his untimely 2006 death. I first discovered JD when I bought his band, Slum Village’s LP, The Fantastic Vol. II (on vinyl) in 2001 or 2002, and soon discovered that half of my favourite hip-hop tracks had also been produced by him. He had one of the most remarkable ear for samples, drawing heavily on his home town’s musical legacy of soulful bass lines and vocals. He also had a very distinctive style of creating beats, always with strong emphasis on the snare or hand clap, which were often a tiny bit late on the beat. The style has been reproduced by many others since his death. His work has sound-tracked the last ten years of my life and suffuses my dreams. I bought this on CD rather than MP3 because one day in 2010, I found myself over-caffienated in Rough Trade East with a compulsion to own an object. There are so many tracks on the anthology worth mentioning, from the likes of Erykah Badu, the Pharcyde and Common, but it was when working with his own group that he was at his best. This is Fall in Love, by Slum Village. I like to play it while shooting up and entertaining clients.