pranay on 05/07/2010 at 09:30AM
I have mentioned the Coffee Break show before, and there’s a high probability that it will come up again and again. And for good reason. Aside from playing the familiar tunes and the occasional novelty record, Coffee Break has also showcased some serious local talent. One of these regulars is the NJ resident, the Custodian of Records. The Custodian produces sample-driven hip hop in an age where the practice is becoming increasingly scarce. Boasting an impressive body of work, TCOR is constantly working on new beats. Recently, while asking him what he’s worked on lately, he hit me with the news that he is moving to South NJ. Before I could even mentally register this news he asked if I could help move some of his records and without thinking I volunteered.
What initially started as one person helping another eventually turned into a guided tour of TCOR’s personal laboratory. The first thing I noticed as we got down to the basement is that it was exactly as he had described it. Music everywhere. Album covers all over the floor. Almost every square inch of deskspace is cluttered with LP’s, cassettes, and CD’s. There were a few boxes with records already packing into them, but it looked like there was much more work ahead. By the way, I don’t mean to insult the man’s cleanliness or organizational skills. In fact, quite the opposite. It definitely speaks volumes about his unique process of creating beats.
It was at this point that he started laying out some things I might be interested in. The next thing I know, I’m confronted by a pile of 45’s and various hip hop tapes, one of which is Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s ultra-rare cassette-only release Future Development. Already, I’m impressed with his collection. When I asked him how he acquired such a massive collection of 45’s, he replied that he is no stranger to flea markets. He himself has also volunteered to move other people’s record collections, which gave him an opportunity to keep some gems along the way. “You might recognize this,” TCOR says as he places an unmarked cassette into the tape deck. It takes me a second before I realize it’s an alternate Beatminerz mix to Black Moon’s heavy hitter classic “I Gotcha Opin”. He claims to not be a fan of the other remix, the one which sampled a Barry White tune.
My eyes shift to the equipment sitting on his desk - an MPC2000 sampler flanked by a soundboard and Technics 1200 turntable. This is primarily what TCOR uses to produce his beats. I laughed for a second at the zip disk in the media slot of the sampler as memories of ‘90s technology come flooding back. TCOR starts throwing on some 45’s and with each one pinpoints which break he used for a particular track. When digging for samples he loves to use either Latin jazz or old advertising jingles. I asked him what his most treasured record is, and it turns out to be something he borrowed: Egberto Gismonti – “Sonho 70”. It’s a funky slab of Brazilian jazz. Can’t say I blame him for hanging onto it.
In one part of the basement there’s an old shelf packed with records. Apparently it’s full of stuff that needs to be trashed. TCOR gives me the task of taking all of the worthless records and throwing it in the trash. I took all the Kenny Loggins, Pat Benatars, and Linda Ronstadts by the handful and started chucking them by the wayside. There was no need to keep these dollar bin staples. While I go to work TCOR goes to his computer and starts playing some new material he was working on. Not everything on that shelf was indeed worthless. I made a separate pile for the keepers like Herbie Hancock’s Death Wish soundtrack. Eventually I got too distracted by the music and soon grabbed a spot next to TCOR. He played me another track featuring a new verse from NJ rap veteran Tame One. After that it was a series of cuts which he hadn’t yet decided will make the final cut of the new album he’s working on.
This was followed by YouTube clips of his Garden Variety monthly showcase. After about the fifth freestyle rap battle video we realized it had gotten pretty late in the day. To be honest, we didn’t quite accomplish all the work we had set out to do, but TCOR assures me that it’s no big deal…