Poet, DJ and producer Medina shows us around his inner sanctum.

Rich Medina – Philadelphia, PA

Please welcome Rich Medina, a D.J. , a poet, music producer and an amazing music collector.

Q: What was your first record album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling and do you still have it in your collection?
A: Believe it or not, the first record I bought with “my own money” was a copy of the KISS “Alive” Concert LP. I bought it at Crazy Eddie’s in Eatontown NJ, after making some chore money. It was 1980, and I was growing more and more into rock and roll, aside from
actively participating in the complete spectrum of hip-hop culture. KISS had THE ILLEST costumes to me at the time, next to PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC, like Rock & Roll Super Villains with the make up and all that! I remember vividly,
that record made me feel like I knew something that other kids didn’t know, probably because family members who had a taste for rock music didn’t surround me.

Q: What prompted you to start collecting? What age did you start? Was there a specific time or event in your life where you recall transitioning from just a lover of music to a collector of music as well?
A: I come from a family of “collectors”, though their reasons were far different than mine when I started.
My parent’s parents migrated north from Alabama and the Kentucky/Ohio border near the turn of the century, via The Underground Railroad. With that, their need to keep and care for things they considered valuable stemmed from not truly having anything to call their own prior to migrating north. Being privy to many an adult discussion on the topic at a young age, it was natural for me to want to keep things I considered valuable, so that I could enjoy them for years to come. I really appreciate this gift from my family, because it taught me to care for my belongings and investments on a higher level now, as a man. I think I became a “collector” prior to leaving home for college. Basketball and academics had taken over my world at that point, but I was still busy DJing and buying records weekly. Having to step back from DJing and focus on passing classes and playing Division 1 hoops actually drew me much closer to my true passion, which I soon came to realize was chasing down music, and playing it for as many people as possible, as often as possible. College, basketball, and a real job were all interruptions to what I’ve come to believe I was born to do.
My man Chris from Groove Merchant in San Francisco put me on to this record a few years back when I was shopping there. I was already in the hole about 500 beans when he showed me this one, but realizing how sincerely rare it is. I had to drop another coupla stacks on the table and leave with this one, with my tail tucked, but man oh man, the amount of truly funky and nasty basslines on this Gospel banger should be deemed criminal. Drums and rhythm section everywhere, and in a completely different, almost secular demeanor than I’ve ever heard before on a Gospel LP.
Q: Why vinyl?
A: Vinyl is the origin of my personal love for music, aside from 8 track tape, my grandparent’s church, piano lessons, and 70’s radio. I was simply born during a time where these were the primary consumer mediums for music, so I really don’t know any better. I am not so much of a purist that I have bad thoughts or words for other mediums though. I think I went through that phase when the iPod hit the marketplace for
like a year. Then, I found myself purchasing one and strolling the streets with 3,00 songs in this little machine. I found the merit in technology then for sure. But beyond that, the sonic quality of the vinyl format is so warm and full when compared to all digital mediums it’s ridiculous. There is no reputable argument for that point. Storage space is not the baseline issue when discussing the collection of music. The music and your relationship with that music is the baseline issue. Records in abundance on any level, or in any format, will get in your way if you are not intimate with them. I just come from the school that says until you’ve experienced the sonic depth of vinyl on a regular basis, even if just at home alone, you are shortchanging yourself of the main attraction at the musical circus.
Carl Holmes “Investigation No. 1 LP” was a treat that was passed my way by my man DJ Train aka Ari Saxe one day while attempting to buy him out of all of his funk and jazz joints. Super funky and aggressive B Boy demeanor in the rhythm section on this LP, from front to back.
A real sleeper.
Q: Presently, are you focusing on any specific genre in your collection? Are there other factors you consider when buying records? Producer? Pressing years? Particular album cover artist?
A: I go after records whenever I have the bread to spend on them, plain and simple. Whatever I’m on the hunt for, I like to take my time and get as personal as possible with the shop and the joints I choose to listen to while I’m there. Sometimes relationships and conversations will bring you more bounty in your digging than just winging it and being a know it all. I gravitate toward different producers, vocalists, labels, genres, songs or LPs for different reasons, depending on things like; “Where am I playing next? What have I heard recently that inspired me to go find it for myself? What label is the new joint that so and so just did that /banging remix on? Do they have a section that represents a weakness in my stash? What’s on the walls in here? What store would have copies? Is this a limited edition? I’ve been looking for this for years. etc.” All of these things come into play for me when buying records, each and every time. I try my best to remain open to what I don’t know, in order for my strengths to remain sharp, and to also be consistently filling holes in the areas of my collection that are not as strong as I would like them to be. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more peculiar about what I may or may not buy, based on what my needs are, upcoming gigs, and money more than ever since my son was born.
Q: Do you have a run of a label or artist in your collection where you are either working on or have completed collecting an entire catalogue of output?
A: I have the entire Black Jazz Records Catalogue, all of the Fela Kuti catalogue, Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Biggie, Jay Z, Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Redman, James Brown, Rawkus, Kindred Spirits, Soundway, Strut, Femi Kuti, Joe Clausell, Blaze, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Gary Bartz, The Ultimate Beats and Breaks Series, and I am close to completing my Cobblestone and Impulse Jazz catalogues as well.
Black Jazz Madness. One of my favorites is Henry Franklin
Q: How do you organize your collection?
A: I’ve always tended to arrange my music by genre fundamentally. Within each genre I tend to break things up by LP/EP, compilation, bootleg, 12”, and import. If it’s shelved, I love it. If it’s not shelved, it’s either new and unfamiliar, fresh off rotation, or in consideration of being liquidated. Well, those are the rules anyway. None of us active DJs have perfect looking stashes, or alphabetical, numerical, and astrological arrangement styles. When you are really using your records, it’s difficult to maintain that level of constant organization.
Q: Tell me a useful record storage / shelving tip.
A: I would say never over pack your records into soft carrying cases, because you will undoubtedly wreck sleeves and often bust edges off your vinyl as well. Buy the thick and clear library grade plastic sleeves too, to store your records in at home. They are expensive, but totally worth it for preserving the cosmetic and sonic integrity of your stash. I wish I knew this years ago because I learned the hard way over
time that you will ALWAYS end up with some kind of damage to your sleeves, your bag, or even worse, your records, without protecting them in as many ways as possible. I got MAD valuable records with beat up sleeves and dings in the wax because it took me so long to get my head around being consistent in protecting my tools. As a collector, you can easily decrease the equity of your stash by having beat up wax. As a DJ, the record you disrespect in storage will soon embarrass you in front of a dance-floor.
Q: What do you look for in a record?
A: Honesty.
Alton & Hortense Ellis “Studio 1 Sessions” LP, full of that Alton Ellis magic, most notably Hortense’s version of “People Make The World Go Around”, such a deep and funky tune to begin with, and then the ragga twist on it is BONG! My man Gene Brown put me up on this when I told him I was trying to get my reggae weight up.
Q: What is your partners’ reaction to your vinyl obsession? Is there a spot dedicated to your partner in your collection?
A: We met over music, and it’s really that simple for us. My lady was a burgeoning club kid and a dance class hound before we met. When we met, she began working with me, handling the administrative duties of keeping me booked and busy. I was also completing my first full length LP at the time, so she came into my world while I was in a period being VERY busy, and going through an accelerated period of creative growth. With that, time passed, she became a wonderful manager of my business affairs, we grew personally closer, developed a very real and loving
relationship, and had our beautiful son Kamaal Nasir. My lady has been extremely supportive, and she has actually been an enabler to my habit. The only other person in the world who supports me more vigilantly is my mother. My Baby Maker 45s are dedicated to my lady, as evidenced by the lil yellow dude you met at my house. meow.
Some people reading this may have been conceived to the joints in this box. Good for you buddy! Kinda creepy to think “did my moms get pregnant with me when this song was hot?” Never mind, I be buggin’ out sometimes.
Practice sessions at home are so much more interesting with a two year old who loves music. I seriously learn from him, even in the simplicity of his curiosities.
Q: I see your son Kamaal (A.K.A. Mini-me) roaming free in your studio, holding your records, doing a few scratching moves on the turntables, moving them around. It’s pretty obvious yoו are proud to pass your knowledge and love for vinyl to him. can you tell me more about your relationship? your wishes for him regarding music?
A: Kamaal Nasir is my first-born son. With that, he is my greatest accomplishment, and I love him more than I’ve ever loved anything in life. He has access to my tools because my tools are a part of me, my workspace is in our home, and those tools also pay our bills and feed our family. In order to create the potential for him to respect my business, and possibly want to follow in my footsteps, I have to make his
access to my tools and lifestyle easy for him to participate in. On a larger and possibly more selfish scale, he is allowed to roam free in my workspace because I work a great deal, and sometimes in order for me to spend the type of time we need together when I am not on the road, we are in the studio together. I want him to see the utilities, hear the music, be inquisitive about the interfaces, to hear the sessions, bang on the keyboards and turntables, and hopefully grow into his own knowledge and desire to feed his own family with money he earns in the arts. But honestly, if he wanted to be something else, I’d spoil him regardless. My objective with him in that regard is to show him that you can make money doing something you really love, and it won’t seem like work in the end. I just want him to look at achievement with an open mind. I have a fun job, and I can only hope that rubs off on him.
Q: Do you buy him records? Does he have a favorite?
A: Yeah. He’s got a gang of records already. He digs a lot of different things at the moment, but his favorite in the moment is just about any rap record played at 45RPM. There’s something about the Kanye West/Chimpunk voice thing makes him go ape-shit…hahaha.
I aint even gonna say nothin’. Stop snitchin’. The source for these would cut me off if he saw his name in print.
My sister bought me this for my 8th birthday I believe. I have played that joint so many times it should be criminal. The Batman joint too. Had that shit forever! Both of these I’ve had since my childhood that I plan to pass on to my son. I finished the apple though haha.
Q: How often do you get out digging for records these days? Do you find yourself doing more digital digging on eBay or do you still hit the fleas and basements of people’s houses? Or do you have a vinyl connection where someone is doing the dirty work and selling you choice pieces?
A: I’m always digging man, almost daily. One of the beautiful things about modern technology is that you can dig in far away places without having to buy a plane ticket AND the damn records you want. I still of course go to warehouses known and unknown,
basements, shops, estate sales, and whatever else I have the time and bread for, just like any other record freak out there. So yeah, it doesn’t turn off even when you’re broke. It’s like any other addiction, the DJ’s addictions just so happen to make everyone feel good when shared at the right time, you know? There are tons of incredible shops, dealers, labels and retailers who have taken advantage of the ability to post stock online and sell more product than if they relied solely a shop for foot traffic. I’ve copped some of my favorite pieces online. I’ve also tripped over nuggets on accident just waltzing into a store I’d never seen. We record hounds all have dealers and such that will turn us on to things we need or don’t know. Some of us just won’t share those resources.
Q: Do you have a philosophy or routine when you enter a store with tons of vinyl for sale?
A: I always try to think of records I need that may possibly be there, first of all. Records I’ve been on the lookout for, records people have recommended to me after hearing me play, records the store buyer may recommend should they “know” me. I guess filling holes always comes before anything else when I see a large stash of records. There’s something fulfilling about walking away from a long digging session with missing pieces to catalogs, or genres. In those situations, it is more often than not about used or classic records rather than the newest thing on the shelves for sure.
Milk Crate Coffee Shop. Adam & Mike always got bangers!
Q: Out of your great collection, there must be a few records that you can always go back to time and time again. Name a few of them and why they are special.
Slick Rick & Dougie Fresh – La Di Da Di
The quintessential crossover party record, no matter where you are playing. Everybody likes to hear themselves sing in the club, and Slick Rick’s delivery and punchlines are so universally understood it’s unbelievable.
Keni Burke – Rising To The Top
The perfect mood changer to bring out the steppers before taking things into more aggressive waters, or the steady peak time cool out joint to rock between moods. a New York club staple since it’s original release.
Bob James – Take Me To The Mardi Gras
Fundamental B-boy staple for both top rockers and footwork B-boys, as well as one of the most recognizable samples in the world after Run DMC’s “Peter Piper” 12” made it enormous. You can never lose with a well placed drop of this record.
Soho – Hot Music
The house music record that to this day makes people who claim to not like house music, dance like they ONLY listen to house music. The perfect example of what I like to call a “reverse crossover” record.
Fela – Water No Get Enemy
The most basic “knowledge of self” record from the Black President. We all need water, and water has no enemies…Fela Kuti illustrates that point beautifully in this difficult, beautiful song arrangement.
The Blackbyrds – Rock Creek Park
The perfect summertime driving or BBQ record that works on dance crowds of all shapes and sizes. One of those records that never let me down in all the years I’ve been playing it for dance floors. It screams of freedom, clear skies and good times, and “doin’ it”, which we all love to do.
James Brown – The Big Payback ­
One of the most recognizable samples ever, and an incredible piece of humanist songwriting from The Godfather of Soul. This song absolutely kills dance floors worldwide.
The Mighty Ryders – Evil Vibrations ­
De La Soul made this joint popular with their original mix of “Saturday” but the original bangs super hard front to back on it’s own. It’s one of those joints where you see people anticipating the rhyme until the real song comes on and they give you the happy “puppy head” look of confusion before realizing that they’ve been giving producers too much credit on certain rap records that they love… haha.
I could of course go on, but this ain’t my book of opinions hahaha.
Fela Kuti “Yellow Fever” original Nigerian pressing autographed personally by Mr Ghariokwu Lemi! Get some google in your life if you aint hip.
Q: Is there an album that gives you goosebumps when you listen to it? What kind of a connection you have to this album?
A: That would have to be Roberta Flack’s “Quiet Fire” LP, namely “Sunday and Sister Jones”. There is such incredible emotion in that song. Her tone is just so sincere and full of loss. I’ve been in love with that song for a very long time, and it is my very favorite song in the world.
Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace” LP. This was a record that was allowed in my grandfather’s house any day of the week because it was “The Lord’s Music” rather than “That Devil Music”.lucky us because the honesty in young Aretha Franklin’s voice on this LP set a standard in our minds of what it meant to truly sing from your heart at all times. This record fucked it up for any bad singers I’ve ever heard because Aretha is THE quintessential benchmark for female soul singers and singers in general in my opinion.
Q: Can you name a few of your favorite album covers?
A: Charles Earland ­- Leaving This Planet
Moe Kauffman ­- Museum Pieces
Black Dynamite Soundtrack ­- Adrian Younge
Big Brother & The Holding – Company
Ohio Players ­- All Covers
Richard Pryor ­- That Nigger’s Crazy
Redd Foxx ­- You Gotta Wash Your Ass
Fela Kuti ­- JJD
Niagara ­- Self titled & self titty.
James Brown ­- The Big Payback
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
You Don’t Have To Be Black to Have The Blues
Henry Franklin -­ The Skipper
Jimi Tenor & Kabu
Sun Ra -­ Heliocentrics
East Of Underground
Parliament – ­ Maggot Brain
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes -­ Family Reunion
Q: Did you have any covers that scared you as a child?
A: KISS ­ Hotter Than Hell. I though Gene Simmons would jump off the cover with those fucking dragon boots, spit blood at me, lick my face, and then stomp my brains out one day.
Q: Is there a specific musical instrument you are attracted to when listening to music? Why?
A: The answer to that question depends totally on whether or not I am making music or playing music. They represent an angle on the same thing, but for me personally they take up their own space in what will attract me, outside the drums obviously. but now that I’m speaking it out, I guess I’d have to say drums first of all, followed by keyboard melodies. For me these two components of a rhythm section pull the remaining members of the section into the dialogue from polar angles. They are the anchors that glue the bass, background instruments, accents and vocals into a corral in my opinion.
Billy Paul’s “War Of The Gods” LP. I remember as a kid thinking that there is so much pain in his voice on this LP. This is one of those records my moms and sister would clean the house to on Saturday afternoons. I inherited this one from my sister on my 15th birthday, and it’s still minty fresh like Altoids.
Q: Have you ever had a favorite record stolen from you or damaged to the point of being unplayable? Have you replaced it?
A: I’ve probably lost or fucked up more good records than I’ve bought over time, either through times in my youth when I didn’t recognize the value of certain pieces, or damaging it in my once fabled milk crate and postal bin storage system.. which I am patenting this year, for the real motherfuckers, ya dig? I’ve also dealt with three huge thefts over the years, which hurt like a gunshot to the face.
Q: Tell me about a dollar bin record you would never part with!
A: Billy Joel “Benny and The Jets” White Label 7” on MCA
Q: Do you have any dirty secrets in your collection? Perhaps a Wall of Shame?
A: Vanilla Ice LP, Hammer LP, Eddie Murphy LPs, Englebert Humperdinck’s 1st Christmas LP.if I told you any more I’d hafta kill you.
It wasn’t me I swear! I HATE Vanilla Ice, personally. Just playing. I’m human. I bought it. My bad.


Q: Have you ever kept a particular record purchase secret from your partner?

A: Monthly, sometimes weekly, not for fear of reprimand, but because you always gotta keep some for yourself.
Q: Do you have any digging buddies that you share your spots with or do you go out solo?
A: I have tons of friends who are incredible resources, solely because of their connection to records and digging for records. Guys and girls who don’t see music and vinyl recordings collection as a hobby or phase in their lives. Without some of those guys and girls in my life, I would be far less learned about music, and my tastes would not have evolved at the same pace that they have evolved to date I believe. At the same time, I am a student and a miner of my own volition, so I enjoy the idea of digging alone too. It can be sticky digging with friends because it’s virtually impossible not to come across things the other one may want as much as you do.
Q: Tell me about the most unlikely place or time you found records?
A: Visiting my girl’s family in Long Beach California after my son’s first birthday. One of her cousins invited us to their house, and once we got there he brought about 1000 7” records into the house from the garage. We talked shop about records all night, and he eventually offered me the entire stash. That was truly bugged out for me.
Q: Can you recall a record store/digging spot that has closed down and you lament? What was your best score there?
A: Funk O Mart in Philly, Vinylmania, Dance Traxx, Dubspot, Footwork (owned by myself and Bobbito Garcia), Vogel’s Records in Jersey, Broadway Eddie’s Records in Camden. I could go on.
Donna, Shugie & Willie.3 of my favorite records ever pressed. All incredibly sensitive records in their own rights.
Q: Tell me a particularly sad record story.
A: I remember being in a baggage claim waiting for my bag and my case of records to come out on the belt. I ended up being one of the last 6 or 7 people waiting for bags. and then a couple of albums come riding down the belt and more records come out, and then a broken flight case lid, and more records. I panicked for like 45 seconds waiting for the pieces to come around the belt, but as they were making their
way around the belt, another dude on the other side of the belt starts screaming at the top of his lungs “Are you fucking kidding meeee!!!!!???? You have GOT TO BE KIDDING MEEEEEEE!!!!!” my case came out in one piece in the next few minutes and my stuff was fine, but I stayed and helped him pick up the records that came out on the belt, and helped him deal with baggage recovery until he had all the answers he could get. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but I think he was a pretty big techno guy. It was really sad to see him in that situation.
Q: Tell me about a record that’s too weird to believe, even for a die-hard record fiend?
A: Muhammad Ali & His Gang Vs Mr. Tooth Decay. Fucking bonkers.
Q: Tell me about a record that has healed heartbreaks.
A: D’Angelo’s “Voodoo” LP kept my spirits up after a breakup. I can’t really say that any record has ever made me feel worse about a relationship gone bad though.
Q: What is the ultimate Sweet Loving Baby Making song or LP in your collection?
A: ”The Closer I Get To You” by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway on Atlantic 7” 1977
Q: Tell me about a record you still regret not picking up.
A: I truly regret not picking up a copy of Gap Mangione’s “Diana In The Autumn Wind” LP years before Dilla used it for Slum Village’s seminal “Fall In Love” 12”. I used to see it consistently and hear people buzz about it, but I just never saw it as a valuable record until the Zen master flipped it on the Slum joint. Then I felt like a small flaccid penis. Until I caught it for 40 bucks some years after that.
Q: Is there a record you feel you have been hunting for too long and will never find an original pressing?
A: I don’t believe there are any unattainable records sometimes, and then other times I feel like I will never really get the mother lode record you know? I go back and forth on that, because when you got bread to spend, even the non negotiable becomes negotiable. I’ve seen guys part with records they said they’d never part with for the right price or the right trade. One that has been sincerely evading me to date though is Yami Solo’s “When A Man’s In Love” 7”. Been checking for a first pressing of that for a good while now.
Q: Who has the toughest record collection that you have ever seen?
A: Man, I’ve seen so many that’s hard to answer. It all depends on whether you’re talking about pure volume of platters, or density per platter. Lots of folks got MAD shit, but cant tell you what it is, or won’t impress you record for record pulling things off the wall. On the other hand you also have folks who don’t have the highest volume of product in their stash, but each record is so deep that it weighs 15 pounds when you pull it off the shelf. There are variables to what makes one’s record collection big, vs. what makes one’s record collection tough. In my top 10 though I’d have to say DJ KC The Funkaholic, Arron Levinson, DJ Kemit, Madlib, DJ Shadow, DJ Spinna, DJ Cash Money, Frank VoodooFunk for African shit, Bobbito Garcia, and Mr Supreme.
Cringing as my man Arron Levinson aka The Kosherican , promptly lets me know that the joint he’s about to play IS NOT for sale. hahaha!
Arron.” OK.I can sell you this one. I’ll see it again.” Me “Well, I’ve never seen it OR heard about it, so thanks.”
Off the cereal box. For reals. Good luck finding it, Thanks Arron!
Q: In your most euphoric dreams, how do you imagine the perfect life as a digger?
A: Having the resources to attain records and music paraphernalia that truly mean something to you, which by default would make you a historian, responsible for the data and statements that validate the value of those pieces. Combine that with the chance to play that music for pay on a great sound system on a Friday night weekly, and you would really be living a pretty perfect life as a digger.
Vocal/Drum Booth fulla Rap 12”s,
LPs, Comps, plus 7” stash, 10”
stash…pause, I mean records. Glad
I caught that one. and Import Hip Hop.
Q: Any words, advice or knowledge you want to bestow to all the fellow diggers out there, both amateur and veteran alike?
A: I’m not sure I’m worthy of advising anyone about records, aside from telling anyone new to it to be prepared to face the consequences of your newfound addiction, and telling them to take care of their records, so you can put down your computer every once in a while, and interact with material music. and so you can have something redeeming left to share with your children and family when you are no longer actively utilizing it as a career.

“Collecting records is like voluntarily becoming a historian or a chapter in a long book of musical histories.”


15 Responses

  1. Awesome post. A true talent and teacher. There are not such things as guilty pleasures; you like what you like. It was cool to see him showing the Eddie Murphy and Vanilla Ice. Too often DJ's and collectors are too judgmental. VINYL RULES!

  2. Fantastic profile! The mix is amazing. AMAZING!!!

    One of my first records was KISS "Alive" as well. Who wasn't down with the KISS army back then?

    Nice to hear another cat mention Roberta Flack's "Sunday And Sister Jones." Killer cut. Bernard Purdie on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass anchor the hell out of that tune.

    Any chance of getting the artist and tune title of the third song?

    Peace and SOUL,
    HSB DaveB…

  3. Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often

  4. perry McCotter-WKDU

    your vinyl collection is sick B.

    Great article son and mad love to you and whatchu do with that vinyl.

    i’ve collected for years also and i do see a lot of familiar joints in your inventory.

    Big ups to your son too chief…show him the ropes/game and may he continue your legacy as well as generating one for himself.

    When you’re in the Illadelph you know where to find me.

    WKDU 91.7….the Black experience in music….ONE LOVE …..

  5. Pingback : 09/03 MON :: Brooklyn :: Rub-a-Grub @ Do or Dine :: Rich Medina, Queen Majesty, Lil Tiger, DJ Linh:: 5pm-12am - —=(] buhbOmp [)=—

  6. Pingback : 1st stop – Aaron “The Kosherican” Levinson – Philadelphia, PA : Dust & Grooves ~ Vinyl. Music. Culture

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