Volume 3: Dusty Fingers - Comin' Clean

June 9, 1999

It's Just A White Bar

        Compilations. To many of us who take their digging seriously, "compilations" might as well be a four letter word.You go out searching high and low for some impossibly scarce artifact, finally unearth it and pay an exorbitant price to own it, only to soon see it pop up one of those dreaded comps for $9.99. Now every non-diggin' wannabe on the block has that rare piece of wax that you walked through hell in a gasoline g-string to obtain, and you're pissed.
        But now, let's be honest about it. No matter how many records you have, you ain't got 'em all. And although you're heated about one of your secret joints being exposed to the world, you ain't complainin' about a couple of those other jams that you'd never been able to find before that were also included on that comp. That's the nature of this beast- you love 'em, or you hate 'em, or you love to hate 'em. Or hate to love 'em? Whatever. So far one compilation that's been receiving lots of love is the Dusty Fingers series. Up to 5 volumes with No. 6 on deck, the Fingers comps are loaded with ridiculously rare grooves coming from all over the world and many different genres of music. Closely related to the Strictly Breaks series, the Dusty joints are light years ahead of Strictly as far as rarity and overall funkiness. Although some heads seem to think that Diamond D is the man behind these records (since his publishing company and record label are both named Dusty Fingers), this is not the case. We'd like to tell you exactly who's responsible but because of possible legal beef, the cat who's putting these comps out wishes to keep his identity secret ala Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne or somebody. So for this interview we'll just refer to him as "The Dusty Kid".
        I had a hard time tracking The Kid down- many rumours had been floating around about him and his records for awhile (such as beef with certain well known rap figures, a situation that he declined to comment on). But finally I caught up with him and we met in a secret, secluded section of Uptown, NYC to talk about the compilation controversy and one of the dopest comps of all time, Dusty Fingers. Read on...

Soulman: What made you get into the compilation business?
Dusty Kid: I been doin' it awhile with other people. I just started to do my own shit. (But my inspiration was) Breakbeat Lenny (of Ultimate Breaks & Beats).

SM: What's the difference between the Strictly Breaks and the Dusty Fingers comps?
DK: My shit is just, a lot of European stuff.

SM: So the Strictly Breaks joints are not you?
DK: Well, it's a different series. It's not actually me, it's my partner. I just supply some of the records for that series, not all of them.

SM: Which series sells more?
DK: Strictly Breaks does.

SM: A lot of people think that Dusty Fingers is done by Diamond...
DK: No. It's not done by D.I.T.C. whatsoever.

SM: Has Diamond ever spoken to you about it?
DK: No, not really. We had the Dusty Fingers as a different series. He has a record company called Dusty Fingers. He mentioned that he had the record label, but my thing is a series, not a record label.

SM: As you know, there are a lot of mixed feelings out there about comps, especially ones that say "used by such-and-such artist". What do you say to people who think it's wrong to put out comps that say who used the sample?
DK: People who are sampling are robbing the original artists anyway. If they don't clear it, that's their problem. I like putting out original records to make it easier for dj's to find them. 'Cause they can't find these records. That's the reason why I do it. It's not a money issue, it's not an ego issue, it's nothing like that. I enjoy putting compilations together with dope shit on them.

SM: Just to make them available to people...
DK: Yeah, that's why Dusty Fingers is like, a project that no one's really done before in compilations. I mean, (other comps) tried to capture the essence of it. But they shout out people that use shit and I don't do that. I don't give a fuck who used it or not. (Dusty Fingers) is just a nice piece to listen to. If you want to sample it, go ahead and do it.

SM: Did Primo's little interlude on the last Gangstarr album affect how you put together your comps at all?
DK: It doesn't scare me whatsoever. It doesn't tell me anything. That's his personal opinion, nahmsayin'? That doesn't have nothin' to do with me, personally.

SM: So let me just make this clear, you pretty much want it to be known that the Strictly Breaks is not your thing, right?
DK: It isn't! Most of the shit on those are collectibles for dj's. My shit is too, but it's more complex music. These records (I put on Dusty Fingers) are virtually impossible to get unless you have three or four hundred dollars and you go downtown to haggle with some of these dealers. For the most part whatever I think is dope, I put it out.

SM: Do you ever think about just holding some of this stuff for yourself? Because sometimes I look at some of the stuff on your compilations and say, "Damn, why'd he put that out? Why didn't he keep that one?"
DK: The reason why I'm puttin' out all this crazy shit is because I'm pissed off at all these simple minded producers using disco and bullshit records. There's another world out there that you can sample from. There's TONS of records. Why sample a stupid fuckin' record that was a hit in the '80's when you can be sampling shit like this and also make it a hit? It's what the rappers say that makes a record a hit, it's not the music behind it.

SM: How do you go about selecting songs for Dusty Fingers?
DK: It's not a one-two-three process. I try to be real selective of what I put out, to make the album sound as good as it can. I come through about 40 records, and out of those maybe 10 to 14 make it. It's just whatever you feel at the time, just like if you were making a track. I like to have a variety of different things from different places like England, France, Japan... you know, stuff like that.

SM: Damn, you must put in a lot of time diggin' for records...
DK: Definitely. I mean, the diggin's already been done most of the time. I just pull out records from my crates and it's like, "damn, I haven't heard this before" or "nobody's used this yet". Let's see if I put it out, will someone hit it.
        I dig for records all over the United States basically- I haven't actually been to a lot of the places personally, but a lot of people do send me records. I dig a lot around my way, in the tri-state area- New York, Connecticut, Jersey. Also Massachussets, Boston... and I got my boys overseas who buy me records. Germany and shit like that. Some of the shit is wack but some of it is cool.

SM: What would you say makes the Dusty Fingers comps different from all the others out there?
DK: Basically, number one, I put in a lot of time and effort into making sure that all the records I put out are very clean. (I make them) sound like a CD master, you know what I'm sayin'? A lot of other cats put shit out, they don't take out the pops, no cracklin', no nothin'. I put a lot of work into my shit. My shit isn't just put to DAT and then just press it up. I make sure it's the best quality possible.

SM: I noticed you use a lot of library records for your shit.
DK: Library records are like my favorite because nobody knows about these records. A lot of library records are really wack and it's hard to find a real good one, but I've been lucky to find a lot of them.

SM: How many library records would you say you have in your collection?
DK: About nine hundred.

SM: Oh, really?
DK: Yeah, give or take. That's really including my soundtracks and all my European shit. Actual library records, I'd say about two or three (hundred). Also I have American library records. They ain't all that, but there's a few pieces that are good for sampling. There's a lot of good shit on these records. If I was really into making tracks I'd be killin' them out there.

SM: Do you have a favorite label for those library joints?
DK: It varies. KPM is dope. Dewolfe varies. They got certain shit that's a-ight, but they're not one of my favorites. I found a lot more shit on KPM that I personally like. They got all kinda labels with crazy shit, man. The illest. I don't even remember some of them, because I don't pay attention to that. I'll just look at the cover, pull it out and mark the record. Whatever's dope on it I'll put a nice little dot next to it.

SM: Are there any other comps out there you really like?
DK: Maybe a few that were done a while ago, like the Nuggets series. My favorite is what I do, really. I used to like the Vinyl Dogs when they first came out, and Sack Of Soul. But comparing their quality to what I do, ain't nothin' out there fuckin' with me.

SM: Yeah, you do have the best sound quality...
DK: I put my time and effort into it. A lot of people just want to make fast money. There's a lot of people who do this shit and they don't even know what they're putting out! But a couple of other ones I like are Status Breaks and Soul Beats, they're dope.

SM: Are there any other comps that you don't like?
DK: I don't like a lot of them. They put out a lot of bullshit to me. None of them put their mind to shit. There are a couple of European ones, like Diggin' Deeper, they put out some nice stuff in the past.

SM: What can we expect to see coming out soon from you?
DK: Well, there's always gonna be a new Dusty volume coming out...

SM: How long do you plan on doing them?
DK: I'll probably keep doing 'em for awhile. We'll see what happens.

SM: How many copies are you selling of each volume?
DK: I can't discuss how much is sold, because it varies. I'm not getting rich off of it, put it that way.

SM: A-ight, any final thoughts before we wrap this up?
DK: Yeah, I appreciate all the support all the people out there are giving me by buying my records and enjoying them. I wish a lot more people would just dig into records like these and sample from them and make some phat shit instead of all this watered down bullshit. And just keep hip hop alive the best way you can, from the real essence of where it really came from. All this chopping up (samples) is dope, but people go too crazy with it. It all sounds like the same shit after awhile. It's all gonna revolve back (to loops) one day.
        There's another world out there beyond the one you know about. Half of these muthafuckas don't know shit about records. I been collecting records since '73, so I know what I'm doin'.

The Dusty Kid's Top 10 Dusty Fingers Breaks
1. PROJECTION - Abstractions (vol. 1)
2. DAVID AXELROD - The Warnings (vol. 1)
3. OLIVER SAIN - On The Hill (vol. 1)
4. GALT MACDERMOT - Ripped Open By Metal Explosions (vol. 2)
5. DAVID AXELROD - Holy Thursday (vol. 2)
6. HYSEAR DON WALKER - Children Of The Night (vol.2)
7. LYN CHRISTOPHER - Take Me With You (vol. 3)
8. PETE MOORE - Shady Blues (vol. 3)
9. MANFRED KRUG - Wennder Urlaub Kommt (vol. 4)
10. BRIAN BENNETT - Solstice (vol. 5)


It's Just A White Bar

SOULMAN: SHIT I'M FEELIN'

  1. DA HORSEMEN: Freestyle over "Hip Hop Drunkies" beat
    How can you not like Canibus, Ras Kass, Killah Priest and Kurupt rippin' shit and leavin' mics scarred and scabbed the fuck up?
  2. NAS: "Poppa Was a Player", "Project Window"
    Unreleased LP - This shit better be on the "Nastradamus" album, 'cuz "I Am" wasn't dick.
  3. LORD HAVE MERCY: "Wicked Ways"
  4. SLUM VILLAGE: "I Don't Know"
  5. RUFF RYDERS FEATURING EVE: "What Ya Want"
    Yeah, I like this. Sorry, backpackers.
  6. RAHZEL: "All I Know" video
    Best video of the year, I don't care what else comes out from now til December 31st.
  7. THE NEW YORK KNICKS
    As of now they're tied 2-2 with Indiana for the Eastern Conference finals but even if they don't win it I love this team, they really showed me something this year.

It's Just A White Bar

TOP TEN SAMPLES FROM THE PAST THAT I STILL DON'T KNOW
Contary to popular belief, I don't know every beat in the world and I'm not ashamed to admit it. To prove it, here are some of the main joints that have eluded me over the years:

  1. MC LYTE: "Cha Cha Cha"
    Not the Fearless 4 sample, the other one.
  2. STEZO: "To The Max"
  3. 45 KING: "Hoein'"
    Also just used on Young Lord's "Red Book Masters" LP
  4. MOBB DEEP: "Shook Ones Pt. II"
  5. WU TANG: "Can It Be That It Was All So Simple"
    Not the Labi Siffre, not the Gladys Knight vocal, the main music track.
  6. RAEKWON: "Ice Cream"
    I was told that this is The Charmels but I'll believe it when I hear it.
  7. ULTRAMAGNETIC MCs: "Give The Drummer Some"
    The drums - I should know this, I've been told what it is but I don't remember.
  8. DE LA SOUL: "Plug Tunin'", "Getto Thang"
  9. JUNGLE BROTHERS: "JBeez Comin' Thru"
    The piano loop - the FAQ says this is a George Michaels sample, that can't be right can it?

It's Just A White Bar

SHIT I'M NOT UNDERSTANDING

On that "Jigga My Nigga" cut from the Ruff Ryders LP:
Does Jay Z really say he's "the one, like 5 divided by 4"??? Uh, 5 divided by 4 is 1.25. And you're tellin' me this man used to be a big time drug dealer? With those kinda math skills????


It's Just A White Bar

SHIT I'M REALLY NOT UNDERSTANDING

Ricky Williams' contract with New Orleans:
I don't care if he meets all those ridiculous incentives and goes on to earn $70 million, that is one FUCKED UP contract that Master P's people got for him. He's the Heisman Trophy winner! The Saints gave up their whole draft to pick him! He had them by the gonads, and to sign a contract in which he has to do things that nobody in NFL history has ever accomplished in order to see big money is totally ridiculous. Don't expect to see a lot of athletes signing with No Limit sports after this debacle.


It's Just A White Bar

SHIT I'M NOT FEELIN'

The whole seperation of hip hop: commercial vs. underground. Can we please just get back to seperating the good from the wack? Everything that's now being called commercial ain't wack and a lot of underground is far from dope. Please, people- be OPEN MINDED. And stop labeling shit, too. Because when you talk about an album like Slick Rick's new "The Art Of Storytelling" (which I am most definitely feelin', by the way)- what do you call it? Commercial? Underground? Old School? If you know like I know, you just call it some dope ass hip hop shit and leave it at that. Don't feel like you have to take sides, man... it's okay to nod your head to that new cut by Sean Combs if you want to! We won't revoke your hip hop membership card, we promise!


        See you next time. One.

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