Freddy Fresh with DJ Serious and john Kong at Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (October 21), 10 pm. $10. www.freddyfresh.com
As a ground-floor hiphop b-boy, producer/DJ Freddy Fresh was working on records by Boogie Down Productions, Grandmaster Flash and Schoolly D before many of the biggest players in the game today were old enough to buy a copy of Jazzy Jay's Cold Chillin' In The Spot from him at Xanadu Records in the Bronx.
After more than 20 years living and breathing hiphop culture while amassing a mind-blowingly deep personal collection of obscure rap vinyl, Freddy Fresh figured it was time that somebody put together a comprehensive discography, if only to settle arguments about who put what out when. Since no one else was stepping up, he decided to take on the mammoth task himself. Three years later, Freddy Fresh Presents The Rap Records (Nerby Publishing) is finally out.
While it's not a complete listing of every last rap and electro record released between 1979 and 89 - Canuck hiphop fans will notice that Ron Nelson's B-boy Destruction, Rumble & Strong's Crazy Jam and Lucien Francoeur's fab franglais cash-in Rap-à-billy from 83 are conspicuously absent - he's done an admirable job of uncovering and presenting the pertinent information on many of the long-lost indie classics that shaped the genre.
Ever wonder where Jay-Z got his start? The Jigga would probably like to forget all about High Potential's HP Get Busy - that was back in his Hawaiian shirt days with Big Jaz in 86 - but Freddy Fresh didn't. It's there along with hundreds of other brilliant one-offs which have since become sought-after collectibles.
"That kind of information was getting more and more blurry with each passing year," explains Freddy Fresh from his Minneapolis home. "People were distorting the facts and just getting things wrong, which I knew because I had many of the original records.
"I felt that if I didn't do something to accurately document this music, the facts might be lost forever. It's a book that just had to exist."
Apparently, none of the publishers that Freddy Fresh approached with his plan for an illustrated rap discography were quite as enthusiastic about the idea.
"Every single person I called, it was the same story. Even before I could finish my pitch, they'd ask, 'Have you got a publicist?' I'd tell them no and they'd hang up. Click.
"So apart from the guy who helped me with the layout, I had to do everything myself, from the compiling to the proofreading, which is why there are so many typos. But people tell me that just adds to the charm. It took three years and $30,000 to complete. I lost a lot in the process, but I have no regrets."
Now that the book is in stores - you can get it online at Amazon.com - and reportedly selling very well ("I've only got a few hundred copies left so I'm not going to lose any money"), Freddy Fresh is back to work DJing and producing, the latest product being The Essential Mix (Word Up) two-disc set, which replicates a DJ session seamlessly moving from floor-filling electro classics through contemporary techno with detours into old-school hiphop.
"I'm going to be trying out my Pioneer CDJ-1000 digital turntable in Toronto so I've just spent the last two weeks putting my records onto CDs. Instead of bringing 80 records to play, I'm gonna go ballistic with 800!"