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Our Essentials Record of the Month for May is a special edition of Clipse’s debut LP, Lord Willin’. Our edition comes on 180-gram emerald vinyl, and is remastered from original sources at 45 RPM. Read below to find out why we picked Lord Willin, and more about the remastering and package details.
Andrew Winistorfer: The first thing I want to bring up, and I’m not even sure if you realize this, do you know that your pinned Tweet on Twitter is about Lord Willin’?
Cameron Schaefer: (laughs) Yeah.
Did you leave that there on purpose as a motivator or a bread crumb?
When I pinned it, I definitely had a thought of, “It would be cool if we could eventually reissue this album,” but that’s as deep as it went. I’ve never Tweeted anything else that I really wanted to pin (laughs). This is an album where people love this album, but just need to be reminded from time-to-time, and they listen to it, and then realize, “Oh yeah, I love this” and listen to it for a month. So I feel like my Tweet is a good reminder for people.
That pinned tweet actually predates me even working at Vinyl Me, Please. It’s from like a week or so before I started. And then I started, and on like my second or third day, we had that meeting where we figured out the albums in our book. And we had a list of something like 180 albums or whatever, and then you and I were like “Clipse’s Lord Willin’ needs to be on this list!" like really emphatically, and Tyler was like, “Yeah, ok, sure,” and then you and I basically dictated that it end up in the book as we whittled the list down. And then I wrote about it in there. I wrote that essay in the book more than 2 years ago.
So when people ask, “Why did you pick this record?” the answer really is as simple as the two of us--in this case--being super enthusiastic about this album, and honestly, that’s all it sometimes takes for us, is that two staff members get super excited and we convince everyone else (laughs).
(Laughs) Totally. It’s one of those albums that’s a fairly easy listen; you can have a surface level like of rap, and be like, “Oh this sounds really good.” But it definitely still has depth; you can hear it for the 20th time and find new things that knock you out. I was listening to Jay-Z’s interview with David Letterman on his new Netflix show, and Jay-Z said something about the goal of any artist is to make “Forever Music,” music that is timeless that is always good. And I think this is an album that bring me back to what it felt like when I first heard it, when I was a freshman in college, and I first heard it on 106 & Park.
I was going to ask you your personal background with this album, because I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Grindin’.” I was a junior in high school, and I was getting ready for school, and I had MTV2 on the background, back when they used to play those video blocks first thing in the morning. And I was pulling my T-shirt over my head, and I heard “Grindin’” and had to sit down on my bed because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. I immediately went and bought the CD from the local Target in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it was like a month after the album came out. It didn’t leave my car till I got rid of that car in college. I have friends from high school who know every single word to “Grindin” who can’t name the full lyrics for any other song in their life, just based on how often I made the car listen to it when I was driving everyone in high school. It took me like four months before I listened to any other song on the album, and probably a year before I listened to the entire thing, because I’d become obsessed with two or three songs and couldn’t stop listening to them. I remember listening to just the “Intro” for weeks on end. Shout out my friends in 2002 and 2003.
I don’t know if you know this, but back when I started in college, I was recruited to play football. I was recruited as a quarterback, but it was clear pretty quickly that I had no business playing football at a collegiate level (laughs). I went to the Air Force Academy, which can recruit tons of kids to play football, because everyone has a full ride scholarship anyway, because you enlist in the Air Force, and they’d have like 200 kids the first week of football tryouts, and just cut the roster down before the season. So, they had like 12 freshman trying out for Quarterback, and then they told me to try out as a kicker, because I used to do that at my tiny high school in Wyoming. And it was clear I wasn’t going to make the team as a kicker either. The only thing I had going for me was that I was fast, so I begged them to let me try to make the team as a cornerback. I had practiced at that in high school but never played it in a game. They said sure, whatever. Go for it.
For two months on the JV team, I got a shot to try to be a cornerback. In the locker room, I take my stuff from the kickers part of the locker room, and move over next to the defensive backs, and it’s me, the only white cornerback, this kid from small town Wyoming. In that part of the locker room, there was a TV, and every afternoon while getting ready for practice, the defensive backs would sit around and watch 106 & Park, which was my intro to that show and a lot of rap music of that era. I was watching 106 & Park when they premiered the video for Grindin’, and I remember just being like “Whoa, this is incredible.” I got cut two weeks later.
(Laughs) And who would have thought that 16 years later you’d be sending 20,000 copies of this album on vinyl out to people.
Yeah man, life is crazy.
When I told my best friend from high school, who always asks in that, “What’s going on at work for you” way, that we were doing this album, he was like, “Man, you strong-armed them into it, just like you used to make us listen to that in the car for four years.” (Laughs).
So why is this an Essential record? Because it’s an incredible album, and the humans behind Vinyl Me, Please love it, and think you should too.
As far as remastering goes, I’ve been listening to this album for literally half my life, and it has never sounded better than it does on our release. That’s not me being hyperbolic; it’s just truth. I heard stuff in the beats here I never heard before.
I agree. We got it remastered at Battery Studios, and had it cut at 45 RPM, which is something we’ve done a lot more recently. It just gives more room to jam amazing sonic information of those grooves, in my non-engineering way of explaining it. There’s been an unspoken--and sometimes spoken on the Internet and to me by some label people--thing in the audiophile vinyl world, that people don’t think there’s as much of a need or necessity to really go all out on rap and hip-hop remastering. There’s a perception that people buying rap albums don’t care as much about how good a record sounds, which we’ve sort of proven--with this, and our Rap & Hip Hop subscription--is not the case. It’s really great to be able to push back against this, and prove that people getting this or Goodie Mob actually do care.
And as far as doing the double LP, 45 RPM deal, the album is going to be a double LP anyway based on its length, why not go that extra step and make it sound better than it’s ever sounded?
Totally. And we’ve really tried to step up our game for our subscription records, where we’re doing as many remasterings as possible, and we’re doing the tip-on jacket, the Obi strips, and going the extra mile to make this the most deluxe version of the album that has ever existed. And I think it is.
Andrew Winistorfer is Senior Director of Music and Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard, The Story of Willie Nelson, Miles Davis: The Electric Years and The Story of Waylon Jennings. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.