12 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 2 – Dollar Grillz Mixtape

Entry 2 in the mixtape series was the hardest to make and is still the one I like best.

Dollar Grillz Mixtape
May 2008

I started making this mixtape with the intention of blowing the First (Worst) Mixtape out of the water (and out of the Philly scene’s collective memory). I think it’s the only mixtape where I used non-music samples in a planned, clever way. I think it’s also the only time I vocoded over stuff on a mixtape. (Wait, no, I did that again on 4 x Floor, sort of. That time it was just singalong, not voiceover.) Anyway, I way overthought this mix (these two mixes, really, since we each made two short ones), probably because making it was such a painstaking process. Instead of mixing the records live, I pitched them, recorded them, and then edited in Cubase, which software I had newly acquired and obviously not mastered. Still, this is the one I’m most proud of, put together before Ableton made quantization easy. Cutting and pasting tiny gaps in the Nairobi drums so they’d match Guns n’ Roses took hours. If I ever get really, really serious about a mixtape again, this will be the one I’m trying to outdo.

I’d been hacking away at this mix in my room when Honkytron and I started a monthly party at Medusa Lounge called Dollar Grillz and decided to release a mixtape to promote the event. I started work on my slow track, and Chris made two tracks to match mine, and we burned a bunch of CD-Rs and wrapped them in the flyer and spread them around the city. Later the gold fronts would move out of the Rocky Horror mouth and into the maw of Johnny Five for most of the rest of our flyers (and for our other, one-for-one collaborative mixtape, Dollar Grillz’ Day Off).

Listening to this again makes me think of the giant master bedroom on the second floor of the West Philadelphia rowhome—Haus 409—in which I lived, worked, and played with records. Desks with turntables and other junk lined the bay windows, which I sat with my back toward, working at a big blue industrial table with peeling plastic veneer. I can’t remember what graffiti I’d scrawled on it in Sharpie, but there was plenty. And a gold strip of sticker from a Ferrero Rocher box (the gift chocolates long gone) stuck to the edge. I wish I still had that table. I’ve still got the mixtape I made on it, though, and now you can have it too.

While I get all nostalgic over a table, I should give shouts out to my fellow 409 residents, who were super fun and helped make a lot of noise. Our old neighbors Ken Raw and Diana will attest to that. And I should give an even bigger shout to Chris, a.k.a. Honkytron, who made the second and final sections of this mixtape. I miss hanging out and working with that guy. Gotta make a Philly trip soon.