A film about Northwest hip-hop from

By The Way

Back in the day I used to live up the road from this oasis of cool in West Seattle known as Easy Street Records. I’d literally spend hours in a day there. They had imports, singles, a barrel of tapes to sift through, t-shirts, bootlegs, stickers, pins, and an entire upstairs dedicated to used vinyl. Famous acts would, and still, show up there and do free shows. They shared a wall with a cafe or a pool hall or something, and eventually, they broke the wall down. Add to that it lies on the corner of Alaska and California, known as “The Junction”, on several major bus routes. It’s a hopping locale and caters to a diverse crew.

So when I was a teenager I’d save up all my money from whatever shitty job I had and go spend nearly all of it down at that shop. I spent most of my time upstairs in the used record section. At the time I was infatuated with hip-hop, especially producing, but I had yet to really dip my feet into it. But years before I ever bought a sampler or turntable I was there sifting through the used jazz and soul records, digging for breaks.

Dylan, the record buyer there, was an immeasurable help to me back then. He was one of the few cats out there who let me know what was up. For example, he was the guy who steered me away from Chuck Mangione and towards Herbie Mann. He told me about great musicians like Grant Green and Ramsey Lewis, and about great sources of dopeness like the CTI label. At the end of a long day digging through musty old stacks of records, I’d head downstairs with my purchases and he’d be at the counterpointing out which tracks had the dopest grooves for each record, and what other records to hunt for.

At a time when I was young, timid, and had no idea how or where to jump into the vast universe of hip-hop culture, he destroyed my preconceptions of the crate-digger who jealously guarded their loops, and made me feel a little more confident that I could do this shit. By the Way is a record he made back in 2000.

From one listen you can tell he’s a literal library of loops and breaks. He’s worked with diverse acts like Kirk Dubb, the Beasties, and 764-Hero, and his current project, “The Slew” is a collab with him, Kid Koala, and two former Wolfmothers.

For comparisons’ sake, By the Way has sounds similar to DJ Frane and the Propellerheads. Among several other tracks “Alki Beach Drive” stands out as the shit. I used to get off work in the middle of the night, blaze, then take the scenic route home. I’d drive along the Alki Beach Drive, stoned out of my gourd, eating 7-Eleven hot dogs, listening to this stoney old mixtape I made that had this track on it. Mmm, hotdogs.

Well, um, thank you Dynomite D, for all the encouragement and knowledge and direction, and for this very dope record you made. It’s great instrumental hip-hop. Seriously groovy music here. Kirk Dubb co-produces one track and Kid Koala guests on another. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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