I met J-Blast through a mutual homie, Dj Louie Loo, back in 2012 while visiting New York. A year later I found out this guy is one of the illest collectors of Nyc Hip Hop street culture. Seriously, this dude is New York to the core! He also holds a bit of street fame himself as it's hard for him to enter a venue, step into a party, or even walk down the street without him being approached by many of hip-hop's royalty accompanied by a hand shake or warm hug. Here is a small window into his massive collection.
Darrell D- You have some serious gear. I see a lot of Dapper Dan threads in your collection. I heard his stuff is pretty expensive. How did you get your hands on so much of it?
J-Blast- There was this guy named Mike Knowles. He was an old school hustler, you know, pulling scams and what not, he was friends with Dan. He hooked me up with Dan. Dan was skeptical of me because he had gotten sued so he wouldn't let me in his house. He would send his son out with different pieces. Because I knew Mike, I got stuff for half price or lower. I could buy A $1000 suit for $300. Dan was dealing with a lot of ballers and rappers. You could bring him a jacket and he would hook it up for you. I would bring him my nikes or Tims and he would hook them up. Cats from all over the country, to this day, go to Dan. Mayweather would drop $50-$100,000 with Dan. The only way you could get into his crib is if you were famous, rich, or if you had known him for 30-40 years. If you were spending serious money he would come to you. He would travel all over the world. Even to this day, he makes several thousand dollars each day.
DD- How did you get into collecting mixtapes?
JB- I used to record parties. I would stand next to the speaker and record jams. This was 1979 before the mixtape game started. By 1981 I had about 30-40 parties recorded. Then, Mr. Magic had his show on WHBI and I would record his shows. He was on from 1am to 3am and I would record it and have to be at school the next day. After that, I got with this guy they called the "Tape Master". He recorded all of the Cold Crush parties. I started getting tapes from him. After that, there was this record store in the Bronx called the Rhythm Den. They had tapes of the Funky Four +1, Cold Crush Brothers, Busy Bee Vs. Kool Moe Dee, Kool Dj Aj, all the live parties. This was all still before the mixtape game. After that there were other Dj radio shows from Bloodrock, Afrika Islam had the Zulu Beats show, the Awesome 2, DNA & Hank Love, Red Alert and Chuck Chillout on Kiss FM. We're talking 1983. They would come on every week. After that, Mr. Magic moved to WBLS with Marley Marl. That's when the Juice Crew started coming out. They played all the Juice Crew records. Different rappers would make promos for Magics show, the Fearless Four would, Whodini, they made "Magic's Wand" and "It's Magic".
JB- The Armory was on 135th St in Harlem. They threw shows there, Doug E Fresh, Rock Steady Crew, Red Alert, Divine Sounds, Kool Dj Aj, Kurtis Blow, Dr. Rock & the Force MC's before they were the Force MD's, and I would record the all the shows there. I came with my cassette recorder in my back pocket and I would stand next to the speaker. This was 83-84. I would bring my mother with me.
My main man Frosty Freeze had a huge cassette collection. Bam(Bambaataa) would bring custom made tapes to Frosty and I would come over and Frosty would let me copy his tapes to build up my collection.
DD- Ok, let's move on to your boom boxes.
JB- My appeal with boom boxes is the fact that it became a dying breed & it's a part of hip-hop. At parties we would connect the boom box to the sound equipment and record the jams. A lot of people don't know that's how we used to record parties. I got back into buying them because I would find a lot of them from back in the day that I never got to buy back then. Japan is one of the only places you can still find a lot of the old original boxes still in the box. They are very expensive though. I used to have Frosty's boom box. The one you see on the Wild Style poster. He signed it and gave it to me. This guy from Germany came to my house and offered me a lot of money for it. I wish I had kept it.
|JB, Duro, Frosty, Doze|
JB- I also have a lot of classic posters like the one from the first hip-hop tour ever. It was just called "New York City Rap". Crazy Legs and Grandmixer D.ST are the only others I know who have the poster from that tour.
DD- I heard you used to hit up trains back in the day.
JB- Back in the early 80's I was down with this crew called IBM which stood for Incredible Bombing Masters. We all went to Joan Of Ark Junior High School. It was me, Poke, Sen One, and Epic. We would go down to GhostTown which was an abandoned subway station. You would take the 1 train between 86th st & 96th st. We would tag all of those trains. I know a lot of major graffiti cats.
DD- I hear you. I'm still trippin on how you introduced me to Phaze II. It was cool hanging out with him. He's a real cool, down to earth, nice guy.
DD- Your flier collection is crazy! Tell me how you accumulated so many.
JB- I used to go to all the parties back in the early 80's. I would keep the fliers, laminate them, and stick them on my wall. Whenever I had people over, they would admire them as "wall art". I didn't realize until the 90's that collecting fliers was so popular so I started trading with other collectors. Van Silk, who was a promoter, had a record store on 125th St. In addition to his huge flier collection, he had outfits and jackets from Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, you know, those leather joints. He had outfits from Rerun a.k.a. Fred Berry, he had stuff from all the popular rappers. He had a lot of battles on tape too.
Buddy Esquire was the flier king. We got cool and started going to parties. He would show me how he made fliers and later would print them on t-shirts. He gave me his whole collection, at least 300 fliers. He died a few years ago.
DD- I have never seen a flier collection as big as yours. Most of these parties I have never even heard of.
JB- Phaze 2 has a big collection too.We would hang out at Club Wetland and he would show me his fliers. He also would show his fliers at different art shows in Manhatten.
Fliers are big business now. It wasn't until the 90's that I found out I was sitting on a goldmine. Stretch Armstrong introduced me to Pete Nice from 3rd Bass and I sold a lot of my fliers to Pete.
DD- Ok, before I let you go, you gotta tell me the story behind that Wu-Tang jacket.
JB- When they opened the Wu store in Staten Island back in the 90's I got an invite from this guy I know named Red, who is Ghostface's cousin. It was on a day when all of Wu was gonna be there. I took a bunch of people from Harlem with me. We bought a lot of gear that day. Ralph McDaniels and Video Music Box was there. There were a lot of people from Japan there too. They bought everything in that store and those clothes were expensive. I still have a lot of merchandise from that store. To get to Staten Island you had to take the ferry. Jesse D from the Force MD's was on the ferry singing for money. He was singing stuff from Beyoncé and old Motown songs.
|J-Blast & Ken Swift|