DJ 7L Talks “Ultimate Breaks and Beats” and Digging Overseas
I’ve been having a great time rereading my Can You Dig It? interviews and decided to post another section of one of my favorites from the series. This one is with Boston native DJ 7L. In addition to his recent top-notch production on the Czarface albums, 7L is a well respected DJ known for his killer edits and live performances. Here he talks about the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilations and his experiences digging overseas.
“They were like cliff notes for beat digging...To this day, if I’m going to mess around with doubles at my house, I’ll put those on over anything else.”
Gino: Do you have a most prized record?
7L: I’d say the Ultimate Breaks and Beats are my most prized collection. Like everybody, I learned a lot from those. I remember buying a couple because I’d recognize names like “Impeach the President” on the track list. David Toupe had his Rap Attack book out, which was kind of like a bible to me. He talked about certain breaks Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay would play and I’d see the same song names on the backs of these records. They were like cliff notes for beat digging. You’d branch out and get interested in getting a real copy. To this day, if I’m going to mess around with doubles at my house, I’ll put those on over anything else. They’re definitely my most worn record.
“Kev, the guy who did those covers, was just crazy. He would just put random stuff on the cover like a skull with a gold chain.”
The artwork on them was crazy. Some was bad, but some was amazing. The one with the b-boy in outer space was really eye catching to me. Kev, the guy who did those covers, was just crazy. He would just put random stuff on the cover like a skull with a gold chain. They were really influential for a lot of people. There have been a lot of beat series since those came out, but at the time, they were one of a kind. They’re like a time capsule for what was being sampled in the early 80’s. It was a glimpse into the greatest hits of what people were playing at the parks back in the day.
“It was a glimpse into the greatest hits of what people were playing at the parks back in the day.”
Gino: What’s your craziest digging story?
I was on tour with Esoteric in England. I was supposed to meet with this cat Julian who is one of the record kings over there. It never ceases to amaze me how many doors open to music you’ve never heard of when you meet certain record collectors. It’s kind of daunting. He had a Japanese record of covers of big American songs that were done in the 70’s and 80’s. They would have the cover song, but then the next six tracks would be 30 seconds of the bass, drums, horn and the other instruments played completely bare. They were breaking down the main parts of the song perfectly for sampling. It almost seemed like it was made for radio commercials or something so people could just talk over different instrumental parts of the tracks.
“It was something like 200 pounds, which at the time was around $350 dollars, and I ended up buying it. I questioned buying it for a while, but I knew I’d never see that record again in my life.”
It was something like 200 pounds, which at the time was around $350 dollars, and I ended up buying it. I questioned buying it for a while, but I knew I’d never see that record again in my life. Julian was just on some other shit. When I meet people like Julian who are so heavy in the game, it puts things in perspective. It reminds met to not make owning rare records my main focus. That attitude took the fun out of record shopping.
I am a director of academic support/special education teacher who loves to write about books, music, records, and samplers. I also love interviewing people about these things. If you enjoyed this piece, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and recommending it on Medium.
You can also check out my Bookshelf Beats publication.