By Ralf Theil
Seven inches of vinyl, a huge center hole and only two songs – there are quite a few more practical ways of playing and collecting music. But who cares about such trivial factors when it’s all about the passion of crate digging? The 45 has never really been gone among funk and soul collectors, and it has been experiencing a whole new surge of popularity in rap for quite some time now. Deliberate opposition to the comforts of digital DJing, self-chastisement or just a consequence of the fact that you’ve already collected everything else? All this is of no concern to someone who never stopped buying and playing vinyl of all shapes and sizes. DJ Format lives in Brighton, UK, is a quintessential b-boy and his fourth album, The Foremost (with Phill Most Chill handling MC duties), proves once again that Format is a world class, old school record digger and producer.
Format says: Here’s my Top 10 Rap 45’s in no particular order. I guess I have quite a lot of rare Rap 45’s that I could brag about but I prefer to talk about the ones that are most special to me for various reasons.
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE FOR DJ FORMAT’S FAVORITE RAP 45s
1. Ultramagnetic MC's – "Give The Drummer Some" / "Moe Luv's Theme" (FFRR, UK 1989).
DJ Format: Back in the mid ’90s I was visiting the family of a girlfriend in a very small town in the North of England. I took the opportunity to go digging in all the charity shops around the local area and I found this great 45, in mint condition, amongst a load of cheesy ’80s pop 45’s. It cost me just 20p!
2. MC EZ & Troup – "Just Rhymin'" / "Get Retarded" (Sleeping Bag, 1988).
DJ Format: I was in my hometown of Southampton hitting a lot of charity shops one day in the ’90s and I was finding almost nothing. Then after hours of hard work without reward, I finally found this 45 for 10p! I never realised it even existed and was amazed that the record label had even bothered to press it on a 45.
3. Lord Finesse – "Baby, You Nasty" / "Keep It Flowing" (Bellaphon, Germany 1990).
DJ Format: I didn’t discover this myself, but I found it online for a lot of money … too much money I decided. But that night I really couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about the 45 so much, ha ha! The next day I contacted the guy who was selling it and we arranged to meet in London. We ended up becoming friends & have traded many records over the years since. Massive shout-out to my man Beattrooper!
This gets my personal vote as the best Rap 45 of all time because both sides are 10/10! I know that Lord Finesse is even looking for a copy of this rare 45 for himself.
4. Mikey D & The L.A. Posse – "My Telephone" / "Bust A Rhyme Mike" (10 Records, UK 1987).
DJ Format: This record is all about the B-side. I loved this record since I first heard it back in the ’80s and had always speculated that it might exist on 45 because of the UK label it was released on. After many years of searching I finally found it about 5 years ago. This record is also notable as it is Rahzel’s first ever appearance on wax.
5. 2 Live Crew – "Yakety Yak" / "Mega Mixx 2" (WTG Records, US 1988).
DJ Format: Forget about the AWFUL A-side, the B-side is basically a DJ track by Mr. Mixx that samples “Apache” for its main hook and cuts up many classic breaks & beats throughout the track. You can easily find this record for just a few dollars and people constantly overlook it without realising how incredible the B-side is.
6. Biz Markie – "Let Me Turn You On" (Cold Chillin', UK 1993).
DJ Format: There’s no exciting story about how I found this, I just stumbled upon it at a record shop for a few pounds about five years ago. But I don’t know anyone else who has this record on 45 so it must be quite rare. I wonder if Biz has a copy of this himself? It comes in the same crazy picture cover as the 12″.
7. 7A3 – "Goes Like Dis" / "Lucifer" (Geffen Records, 1988).
DJ Format: 7A3 was DJ Muggs’ first group before Cypress Hill and they only released one album, Coolin’ In Cali , back in ’88. “Goes Like Dis” was released on 12″, but the remix didn’t quite work (in my humble opinion). The only way you can find the original LP version pressed nice & loud is on the 45. I have two or three different pressings of the 45 and some have “Lucifer” on the B-side as a bonus.
8. Eric B. & Rakim – "Eric B. Is President" / "My Melody" (4th & Broadway, US 1986).
DJ Format: This is another 45 that I speculated might exist… but I could never seem to find any trace of it. Eventually, I discovered that it does exist and I was sent on several wild goose chases before I finally managed to get a copy two or three years ago. I since got a second copy from a good friend who had it all along! This surely has to be a contender for the all time best Rap 45, but it’s definitely not as rare as the Lord Finesse 45.
9. Sweet Tee & Jazzy Joyce – "It's My Beat" (Champion, UK 1987).
DJ Format: This classic song was released on 12″ by Champion Records in the UK and they often released 45’s too, so I assumed it must exist, but I couldn’t find it for years and years. I finally saw a US promo copy on eBay, but it was styrene (not proper vinyl), as was often the case with Profile Records, and the price was already getting expensive, so I decided not to bid on it. I regretted that decision for a while, but then I discovered by accident that a good friend had an elusive UK copy on Champion Records and he was happy to sell it to me cheap.
Nerdy note: The UK pressing has the instrumental version that isn’t on the US pressing.
10. Jungle Brothers – "I'll House You" / "On The Run" (Clever House Of Music, France 1988).
DJ Format: “On The Run” is my all time favourite Jungle Brothers song and when I saw it listed online by a notoriously bad French record dealer about 6 or 7 years ago, I assumed it was a mistake and didn’t buy it. I later discovered that it wasn’t a mistake and this song does exist on 45, on the B-side of the French pressing of “I’ll House You.” I’d searched online and also on many digging trips in France for this 45 ever since and I’d always asked French DJ’s, collectors and dealers but nobody had ever seen it and couldn’t find it for me – until recently. I was DJing in Nantes and as usual I asked all the DJ’s at the party if they had a copy of the 45. Nobody even knew about it but DJ Nutz (Nantes) kindly searched very thoroughly online for it and found a guy selling it with a load of crappy pop 45’s on a French website that I would never have found myself. I’ve already sent Nutz a nice big package of records to say a big THANK YOU!