Drop the Needle (2023) - full transcript

In August 1990, a record store opened on Yonge St. that quickly began serving the needs of college radio and DJs who spun new sounds far from the mainstream. Through the contagious work ethic and guidance of founder Eugene Tam, or...


So, most of you guys
know me as Kid Kut,

the voice of the vibe, the MC
from the Baby Blue Soundcrew.

When I say "baby,"
y'all say "blue!"






little do you know,
I am a vinyl collector,

a producer, a DJ.

I love vinyl.

This record right here
was one of the first records

I purchased.

Any time I bought a record
or records in the past,

any time I bought records
in the past,

I would purchase the record
and put my name on the record

and I would put the year
that I got the vinyl.

So, like, if I was playing
a party and somehow

one of my records got, you know,

taken up by somebody else accidentally...

I could be like,
"That's my record!"

The records that are in here
actually mean something to me.

And when I purchased this home,

the whole thing was
there's a spot under the stairs.

That's why the roof
is only this high.

I made sure, I was like,
"Yup, that's where I'm gonna

"put my vinyl, in this spot,
and I can lock it up."

♪ Do it...
Do it... ♪

There's one store
that's very special to me.

Every time I go there,
I'm always inspired,

it's a sample or a break.

Yo, let's go get some new vinyl.

♪ Do it!

♪ We make money money money.

♪ You take money money money.

♪ You make money money money.

♪ You take money money money.

♪ See, I'm like
a soldier in a war ♪

♪ That makes
my heart like tin. ♪

♪ A disciple of the street
treating boys like men. ♪

♪ Enemies like friends,
friends like kings. ♪

♪ A rap battle, stifle
any weak rhymes y'all bring. ♪

♪ 'Cause I got
the game-show-like strength. ♪

♪ What the cold life brings,

♪ Nowadays I only
praise one king. ♪

♪ Kind of rap your
to rap about one thing. ♪

♪ Out here, our
live the life you're singing. ♪

♪ Every day,
you make money money money. ♪

♪ And every night,
you take money money money. ♪

♪ You make money money money.

♪ You take money money money.

♪ Every day,
you make money money money. ♪

♪ And every night,
you take money money money. ♪

♪ You make money money money.

♪ You take money money.

You always say that you just

had the right people around you.

But, I mean,
bigger than that, right?

I mean,
this is about a love of music.


And this
turned into what people

are calling a cultural artifact.

When you hear that,
what does it make you think?

I know for people,
they always talk about it

on the internet,
when they come here, they tell--

because I've served,
like, three generations.

Father, then the son;
now the son has little kids,

and they're bringing them in.

I love to see those kids,
you know?

And they tell
their kids the stories,

"Oh, this is vinyl,
so-and-so, that's a CD.

"Long time ago, Thursday,
we'd come, we'd fight in records

"with other DJs,"
all this stuff, you know?

I mean, they tell
them stories like that.

It was good.

It was like a meeting place
every Thursday.

Being immersed
in that world was just...

It's hard to articulate
sometimes some of the things

that I experienced.

Just seeing the unity of people,

DJs, people from
all walks of life,

showing up on a Thursday.

We created
the soundtrack for this time.

This was the meeting place.

It was communal,
and it was live, and...

It was alive.

If you were a DJ in this
city, like, everybody was there.

It was packed.
You couldn't...

There was times you just
couldn't even move in there.

It was just...

Everybody was going to him
and he was the go-to guy,

and it kind of didn't matter
who you were in the industry,

whether you're a promoter,
whether you're a DJ,

whether you're an artist.

You needed Eugene.

You know,
I never thought about it,

but when we were doing
this documentary,

and then I wrote stuff on paper,

and then I realized,

"Maybe we did."

I'm always so busy,
I'm always doing something,

I'm always exercising,

I'm always with my mom and dad,
trying to help them out,

doing something,
or my family, right?

And so I never think
about all these things.

And people would always tell me,

"Oh, your store
is an institution, duh duh duh."

I was like, "Okay, alright,
alright, okay, cool,

"no problem."

But it's only when we started
doing this documentary, I...

"Oh, maybe we did have
something to do with it."

You know what I mean?
I never saw it.

Like, you know when
you have to step back?

Then you see
the picture, right?

♪ Yo, I represent the reason
rappers'll write songs for ♪

♪ The legendary
lyricism you line for ♪

♪ Controller of the crowd,
the party people respond for ♪

♪ Receiver of encores,
my peoples demand more ♪

♪ Rappers, yeah, tell it
to the fate of rancour ♪

♪ To contemplate the fate that
you're eternally damned for ♪

♪ Everyone I know
seeking the answer ♪

♪ To what the super educated
professor of rhymin' stand for ♪

♪ Original rhythm and rhyme,
sure to enhance your

experience, therapeutic
lyrics curing the cancer... ♪

Ah, you got me!

I'll get him back.

♪ The rhythm holdin' me,
you pigeon holin' me ♪

♪ You classify
my style of rap ♪

♪ My rappin' sound is the cap
and the gown style of rap,

but where them dollars at? ♪

♪ It's time to pay
homage to the style ♪

♪ So who you follow, black?

♪ Now if you're ready
to rock steady,

considerin' that you've never
experienced a veteran yet ♪

♪ Steadily sweat

♪ Skills reveal

♪ Architects of style,

my professors they
be super educated ♪

♪ To my people in the front,
feelin' base that bumps ♪

♪ And just clap your hands
to the beat y'all ♪

♪ To my people in the rear, put
it high in the air and just ♪

♪ Rock, rock to this,
y'all, huh ♪

♪ Well, well, well,
well, you know it's me ♪

♪ Hey y'all,
I'm a superstar ♪

♪ Check out what the heck
I got to say ♪

♪ I'm super-educated,
ready to get... ♪

And I would
buy bootleg records

of Lord Finesse
and digging in the crates,

because they were
just too expensive

and the records weren't
that good to begin with so...

Oh, hey, Finesse!
What's up?

Yeah, there's a lot
of history from the old location

that we transferred
across to this location.

Roy Ayers, well, he's-- so many
people sampled this guy, right?

And he's so big.

They approached us
and they wanted to do a signing

in the store and we said,
"Okay, cool, no problem."

He came early.

He set up everything.

He would see people coming
straight from the door

and be calling them,
"Hey, come!"

You know, he doesn't even know
if they're coming for him

or not, he's just calling them.

Maestro is like the first one
that opened the doors

for everybody, too, right?

And then, he happened to be
coming through here.

Like, all these guys
used to come through

the store all the time, right?

I used to see them all the time,
so it was no big deal.

But then, I said it would be
cool for him to just sign it.

Actually, I think ABBA
was one of my first records

that I bought, like actually
go and paid money...

Instead of getting
records from my dad.

But this is not the right one,

but this is one.

ABBA, I remember,
was hot at that time and-- pfft!

We were all dancing to it.


"Dancing Queen."

I have these 45s here,
brought from back home.

Well, this is just some of it,
but it was a lot of 45s.

Me and my brother,
we bought 45s,

and this is what we
used to listen to, man.

We grew up
in Trinidad in Port of Spain,

Belmont, Erthig Road.

My mom and dad had a business
there selling groceries.

We had certain
exclusive products

for the whole of Trinidad.

And that's how he made
his living and, you know,

made some of his money, right?

I just remember
when I was young,

just going down there
right after school,

running around, playing there,

and maybe that's how I got
my business sense or whatever.

I remember he had a friend.

She had all the jukeboxes.

She owned a lot of jukeboxes
around Trinidad,

and she came to my dad
and said, like,

"I have so many
thousands of records.

"Do you want to take them?"
And they negotiated a price.

Next day when we had
the records, man, I was like...

Get into the music there.

I started getting
records for free.

I came across to Canada
to study,

and I guessed after I finished
studying I would come back

and take over the business, right?

But then, my brother
came and studied,

then my sister came,

and then my dad just came.

He took a two-day holiday.
He never takes a holiday.

He took a two-day holiday,
came down to Canada,

and he loved it and he said,
"We're moving."

Years ago,
Huron Indians named this city

their word for "meeting place,"

Today, a very big
meeting place.

Ask any DJ
or music lover

what they tend to do
when they travel to new cities,

what's always on the agenda?

Record stores.

Tuning into a city's, not just
club culture but music culture,

record stores have long been
at the heart of that.

I stayed here for,
like, about a month

and went record shopping.

Sam the Record Man,
Cheapies, A&A Records.

Later on,
I was buying at Star Sound

and Carnival Records.

Star Sound was actually
the record store to go to

in the '80s.

I remember seeing, you know,
guys from Club Z, Twilight Zone;

all those guys were there
buying records.

It was a social gathering too.

You got to meet and greet,
you know?

"I never thought I'd meet
this DJ; he's here,"

that kind of thing.

When I
had that experience

going to Star Sound, that
was like one of my first

"Wow!" moments that,
"Oh my god, this is real."

I didn't know that
was gonna happen,

but they had my posters
everywhere and it was like,

in my mind, "Wow, this is what
LL Cool J must have felt like

"when he came out with,
you know, Rock the Bells."

Definitely good for me
in terms of giving me

that confidence to know
that my city is behind me,

so enough respect
to Star Sound for that.

You know, you felt
this loyalty to Star Sound

and Carnival, and then when
Star Sound changed to Traxx,

my loyalty was at Carnival.

And because Kamal from Carnival
let me work there

on Caribana weekend in 1990,

I felt a distinct
loyalty to him.

Because he paid me in records!

And the horn!

As the music scene
and the record scene

became more commercialized,
it just wasn't enough.

Star Sound just wasn't enough,
you know?

And everything
would get sold out.

There just wouldn't be enough
for regular guys like me,

you know, buying records.

Play De Record came
at the right time, I think.

He dabbled
in different things,

and I think he wanted
to do something retail,

and it was just a natural
progression with music

that he loved,
and I guess there was only a few

record stores on Yonge Street.

And then my dad had
the property on Yonge Street.

The back was empty
for two years.

He may have told you,

because his dad
owned the building,

and the back part was very
hard to rent out at that time,

in 1990.

And there were
other record stores.

Like, everyone shopped
along Yonge Street.

He loved music and, you know,
he wanted to use the back.

You know, nobody
wanted to rent behind a store.

Like, who would do that?

You know what I mean?
Only me.

So I said,
"Dad, look, this--

"nobody's gonna rent there.

"Let's just open
a record store there, right?"

And my mom and him
said, like,

"Okay, let's try it out."

Record buyers,

they see any
new place that's open,

they want to go check it out.

So, and we were on the correct,
you know, in the right area,

so we got people shopping
as soon as we opened.

Even when
we opened the store,

we didn't even have
a name really.

People would say,
"What do you call your store?"

You know?
And I just said, "Well...

"how about Play De Record, man?"

Right, like "Play De Record."
And that was it.

I mean, I didn't know how to
open a record store or whatever,

I just knew
the music that I know,

R&B, some jazz, Latin,

soca, and reggae, right?

So I opened up the store
with only that kind of music.

One of the DJs that used to
come and shop, his name is Deko.

He liked what we were
doing and he said,

"Look, you need to get
some house and techno

"and other types
of music in here,

"and you'll do well."

He gave me
a contact in Montreal,

so I called that guy up.

"Look, whatever you think
is the hottest stuff,

"just send it to me,"
so he sent me some stuff.

People buying.

We were bringing drum and bass,
and people were coming down

like, "Oh, wow...
this is stuff that nobody has.

"You can only get it in the UK."
He hooked me up good.

And, pssht!

That's how the store, like,
we started getting, like,

the latest stuff
and all the DJ stuff.

Club DJs were coming in

because we had stuff
that nobody had.

It was this whole
kind of mom-and-pop corner store

in the front, so you'd walk in,
you're like,

"Am I at the right place?"

You hear there's this
cool new record store,

and then you walk in
and you're like, "What?!"

As soon as you
walk into Play De Record

it immediately
becomes this grimy,

kind of bodega experience where
there's a convenience store

before you walk
into Play De Record.

Play De Record was
in the back half of 357.

There would be, like, brass
knuckles and porno tapes and,

you know, all types of stuff
that's completely unrelated

with records.

Eugene and Donna
are very warm,

nice, cool, loving people.

And then, of course,
there were Eugene's parents

that were there,
both his mom and dad.

Dad was super tough and scary.

My dad was
a bit of the security guard,

and my mom was
just there to make sure

that things were
running smoothly.

Maybe he thinks
he's still in Trinidad.

You know what I mean?

Because of people
stealing or whatever.

It doesn't matter who.
You know what I mean?

He's always checking,
oh, the bags.

Make sure people...

Because there
was people stealing.

We caught
a couple of people already.

The front of
the store is selling everything

from, like, pornographic movies
and, you know,

fake handguns and daggers
and, like,

all kinds of crap that you would
expect in a kind of sleazy

Yonge Street type of store.

You know what I mean?

And we know certain people
are coming to steal, too.

I mean, now,
it doesn't happen that often

because people don't care
about music that much.

Like, you can get it for free.

But at that time,
the only way you can get music

is you've got to come
to the record store.

The parents were
the best and the meanest,

but then I eventually
won his mother over.

I would be so nice to her
all the time,

that she eventually would smile
at me and I was like,

"Wow, I did it!

"I slayed the dragon!"

My mom, dad,
Donna was there,

and my brother came
and helped out sometimes,

and my sister came
and helped out sometimes.

We were by ourselves.

And then I said, "Man,
we'd better get somebody.

"We've gotta get some DJs

"or somebody
that knows other people."

I was just hanging out
at this local record shop

called Carnival, and there was
a guy that was working there,

Eric Ling.

He said, "There's a new
record shop that just opened

"down the street and they've
got import house music."

I walked into Play De Record.

I still remember, they only had
about 100 records in the store.

I met Eugene and,
"Oh, you like music?"

And I said, "Yeah."

"And you like house music?"
And I said, "Yeah."

"You want to work here?"
And I said, "Sure!"

And he goes, "Start tomorrow?"
And I said, "Okay!"

So that's how I got the job.

You know, Star Sound, Carnival,
and Play De Record,

they were very different from
shops like Sam's and A&A.

Sam the Record Man
was more commercial.

They sell classical,
jazz, rock, right?

I focused mostly on DJ,
urban music, electronic music.

That was my thing.

In the good old days,

and I say that
sort of like in parenthesis,

all that music,
let's call it Black music,

so disco, R&B, house,

that was all dance music.

Playing hip-hop,
funk, R&B, reggae,

was how I started as a DJ.

And then over time,
house music was invented.

I gravitated in that direction.

House was, like,
slowly building and building

and building, and that was,
like, the club thing.

That was the house thing.

And there was
a girl in my class,

this girl named Sherry Assoon,

and her brother had owned
the Twilight Zone nightclub.

Like, I didn't know
nothing about, like,

clubs or anything, right?

So she goes, "Oh, yeah, I could
bring you there one time."

And we go to this club
and I was just like,

"Wow, this is crazy.
Like, what is this?"

And just, like, you'd never
seen anything like this ever,

and I was just like--
like, the sound's insane.

Everything's, like,
music I never heard before.

I mean, I don't know how long
I ended up staying there.

Of course, you're 13 and...

You're 13 or whatever,
sneaking out of the house

and so on, but yeah,
I was like--

that's where the whole
house thing started from,

the Twilight Zone.

I grew up just outside
of a town called Cobourg.

I grew up in a little town
called Grafton.

I mean,
I totally did not get it!

I walked in.

I mean, it was sparse,
like very little lighting.

It was mostly strobes.

It was, you know, screens
and lasers and things flashing.

And, like, what I didn't
understand musically

at the time, ironically
because it became so much

a part of my life.

♪ Feel the drums.

It was definitely
early, early, early

underground house
and early underground techno

and the meeting of that.

The whole vibe of that
and the fact that you could be

on a floor dancing
beside somebody

you've never seen before and
smiling your face off at them

all night
because it was just new.

It was fresh.
And it meant a lot.

It connected people.
It still does.

Just the sound system,
it's incredible here.

The people are friendly.

The atmosphere,
the music, it's alright.

It's fun!

Toronto was starting to grow.

The popularity
for underground music

is starting to grow in the city,

and the clubbing
was starting to grow,

which was amazing at that time.

Dino & Terry,
Deko, Jason Steele

was out there playing.

Kenny Glasgow was coming up.

He was young but he was
definitely coming up.

Definitely Peter, Tyrone & Shams
were names I heard early on.

Of course, Peter,
Tyrone & Shams were, like,

the kings
of the house music world.

Those guys,
they lived for music.

They think music all day long.

They want to get
the records early.

That's it with these guys.

started to open up

and DJs were getting jobs.

They started to come
on a regular basis

because they had a gig.

At the time, he was
using an amazing distributor

that nobody was using.

So with that, it just...

Just had good
12-inches coming in.

By that time,
I was getting all of my stuff

from Play De Record.

I had a great relationship
with Play De Record.

Eugene was an amazing
guy to work with,

so there was no reason
for me to go anywhere else.

They knew what they
were doing in terms of how to

supply the city with
all things kind of music.

And also, they stood out because
they included and sold music

in so many genres
right from the start.

I really
tried to push new music

and push Canadian stuff,

and push, you know, local stuff,
and good music,

good new music, underground,
nothing that was commercial.

Interesting stuff.

You know, different languages,
different beats.

It doesn't matter what.

Rap, talking
to music in a hip style.

It started in the streets
of New York,

crossed over
into the pop charts,

and now rap
is growing in Canada.

This past summer,
people with the record chains

noticed an increasing
demand for rap.

Customers came in
looking for specific artists.

They also were looking for
whatever was new

in the realm of rap.

All I can say about
hip-hop is that hip-hop is me.

You know what I mean?
I can't control it.

It's just taken control of me.

I'll just--
I'll leave it at that.

I got started
probably around 1985.

Moved right into
the breakdance era.

Tried different stuff.

I tried dancing, I tried
like, you know, the fashion,

this and that, and I ended up
being drawn to the music.

My dad got us
a pair of turntables,

not because they wanted us
to DJ or anything,

but he just wanted us
to keep our sticky paws off

of his prized possessions.

And that basically just
developed my love for hip-hop,

and I started listening
to Ron Nelson,

The Fantastic Voyage on CKLN.

There was
a kid that lived behind me.

His name was Henderson.

So I knock on Henderson's door
and, you know,

Henderson's parents
were from Jamaica,

and almost every time I'm
walking in the door, like,

music's being played,
like on big, loud speakers.

The first time
I ever heard hip-hop

was in Henderson's home, right?

We're going to school together
and I'm like, "What's that?"

He's like, "You don't
know what that is?"

And he's breaking, so I would
say the first introduction

to the art form is breakdancing,
and to see somebody's body move

in ways that you've
never seen it before.

So let's remember, like,
this stuff is not on television.

There is no YouTube.

If you're not in person
seeing somebody move this way,

you can't even explain it
to anybody else.

And that was my
first introduction to it,

and I've been hooked ever since.

And I think the first time
you get introduced

to one of the art forms,
it has a way of hooking you in.

It's an undeniable thing
that draws you in.

And for me, that's what did it.

I grew up on
the four elements of hip-hop,

and the four elements
of hip-hop,

to quite Crazy Legs: graffiti
being the black sheep of hip-hop

because it's the least understood,

DJing being
the loyal child of hip-hop

because it always does its job,

MCing being
the spoiled child of hip-hop

because it's the youngest
and it gets the most attention,

and then my element, breakdancing,

which is the bastard child
of hip-hop

because there's
no father to its style.

♪ From the back to the front

♪ Left to the right

♪ Hold tight,
Red1's on the mic ♪

♪ From the front to the back

♪ Left to the right

♪ Hold tight,
Misfit about to rock the mic ♪

♪ It's just a soul obligation

♪ The crunch of my collection

♪ And poetry is my occupation

♪ I'm always eager, getting'
through like a cleaver ♪

♪ With foresight to bring back
minds that went astray ♪

♪ Rather than tackle lyrical
lines, I can make the play ♪

♪ So now for crowd

♪ To compliment
my supplementary angle ♪

♪ Tangled up
Never ever had above minds ♪

♪ Precipitous justice
it's always brought to my mic ♪

♪ If I was in the tease,
so it's a must ♪

♪ I come full fledged
and never flimsy ♪

♪ With all the power
I possess ♪

♪ There's no need
for exponents ♪

♪ Movin' the earth with my
rhyme like plate tectonics ♪

♪ Oh, we shift

♪ Better make it skirt
you will be get ♪

♪ Permanently eclipsed
from Mars ♪

♪ Super entity
and that means calamity

is destined
to fall on thee. ♪

If you're
passionate about something,

your pursuit of knowledge
or seeking it is there, okay?

Now, you can't
find it in the libraries.

You can't find this anywhere.

there was no commercial radio.

College radio was a thing.


You gotta give respect
to Ron Nelson

because he was
the pioneer to me.

Not only did he have the
number one shows for hip-hop,

but he was
a promoter of hip-hop.

Roxanne Shanté
is in the place!

And she's gonna tear it up
in a minute, alright?

♪ Let you know
that Shanté's the best. ♪

♪ Top MC, that's who I am.

♪ Let's get reggae,
I don't give a damn. ♪

Back then, to be a DJ,

you made your name
breaking records.

"I'm the first one
to drop this record,"

and that's how
you made a name.

And Ron was the guy who was
dropping new records

before anybody, right?

So anybody who
went down to New York,

you came back with stuff;

you'd go right to Ron and
he'd break it on air for you.

Like, he's a godfather
in the sense that he's the one

with the vision
that's seen us going on

and taking this to radio.

He's like our red alert.

definitely live this year

more than any other year,

and it's good to see
the Canadian artists

putting themselves on the map.

"Elements of Style,"
that's gonna be a hit.

I bet you any money
it's gonna be a hit,

and that's on
the compilation record

by Beat Factory Productions
and Streetbeat.

Rumble & Strong's work
are in there

as well as Street, uh--

Streetbeat's stuff's
on the B side.

What's this?
Toronto is on wax.

Yeah, we know it, and it's
only gonna get better.

The new Kenny Crush
on its way down...

The landscape
for Toronto urban radio

at the time was there really
was no Canadian urban radio.

WBLK from Buffalo
was our urban radio.

We loved it.
We couldn't get enough of WBLK.

The only problem was it
was American, not Canadian.

They didn't care about
our identity, our artists,

you know, our movement.

It was kind of a nice thing

when a radio station came along.

As tiny a signal as it had,
it didn't really matter,

but for the first time
it created an umbrella

for people to meet,
for people to connect.

That was
my very first place

where I had my interview,
I never-- and he said, like,

"Yo, man, that's Melody MC,"
because that's my old rap name.

"Melody MC, man,
he's 15 and damn, he's good."

And I never forgot that.

Up till now,
I still remember that.

The real, true maestro,

orchestrating everything
out of CKLN 88.1.

I couldn't get enough
of that urban music.

Didn't wait on distribution.

Didn't wait on
the radio station.

At the radio station,
you have a record library.

It's a big room full of records.

They had a few things
from Run DMC and Whodini,

and a lot of the stuff was
really weird that I didn't like.

If you wanted to
really please the people,

you gotta go out
and get your own shit.

And now, you can't
just go to a record store

in Toronto and pick up
Rakim's record.

They don't have it.

They don't even know
what you're talking about.

Those top-notch record
stores weren't thinking hip-hop.

The music industry, period,
wasn't thinking hip-hop.

They thought it was a fad.

They thought, "Next year
this is gonna be gone."

You'd have people
going to Buffalo

because there were some
record distributors in Buffalo.

You'd have people
travelling to New York City.

The whole thing
about accessing music

that we heard on
the radio in Canada

was a whole
different level of difficulty

than it was for
American record stores

to get those same
pieces of vinyl.

So we had to go through
a lot more trouble

and wait a lot more as DJs,

and travel a lot more
to find those record stores.

How many records?

I guess about 2,500 to 3,000.

And when
you don't get records

from the record company,
where do you go to get records?

Usually Play De.

They've got the best selection,
best hip-hop selection.

The DJs in the store
were into hip-hop.

They say, "This is good.
We should bring so-and-so."

"Do it."

That propelled him
to another level.

Just word of mouth saying,
"Hey, Play De Record has this,

"Play De Record has that."

I remember
it being a place where

I got all my records,

not only for the radio show
but for clubs and DJ bookings.

I mean, that was
the place where I went

to get everything for the week.

My mom
was never the type

to give an allowance,
but she used to give me like

$20 a week for me
to go and buy records

because she knew how much
that I loved hip-hop.

So I remember,
you know, grabbing

The Beatnuts and Pharcyde
and, you know,

all the other stuff
that was out at that time.

Like, that was actually also
something that inspired us

because we were like,

yo, that's who
we wanted to be like.

And bringing
the stuff that every, you know,

popular DJ was playing,
I think really had that role

in being able to shape Toronto's
scene and strengthen it,

and actually
place us on the map.

And that's
how the hip-hop

and the electronic music

were going together,
and it was all underground.

It became expensive to
buy records because, you know,

you're buying house and you're
buying hip-hop at the same time,

but it was just so much of both.

And everything was there.

Like, you can get
everything there.

So, as
a reggae selector,

you'd just go to
the reggae record stores.

You know what I mean?

Try to get as much songs
as you can.

But everybody's going there,
so you miss out.

Now you miss out,
you don't have the songs,

you need to mash up the place--
where is the record now?

"Just go to
Play De Record, man!"


"Just go.
They have reggae, too."

And you go there and,
there and behold, bro,

there's a shop up, bro.
You know what I'm saying?

It wasn't so much.

You know, that two
little, small racks.

It was maybe like that of 45s.

You know what I mean?

And a sprinkle of 12-inches
here and there.

But... they were there!

Know what I mean?

It had really good music
that was well-curated,

and people who knew about that
music and who could be like,

"Oh, you're into this?
Check this out."

That was
the difference between,

you know, going to
just a regular record store

and Play De Record.
And they had good stuff, right?

They had local DJs
that knew what they're doing

working there.

One thing
I looked for is, like,

young guys who's hungry,
who love music,

and probably will do
anything for music.

I went in
a couple of times,

looked around
and saw what he had.

I said,
"I would love to work here."

And he said, "Yeah, sure."

Then I went
over to Eugene's,

I played a record and asked
him if I could do co-op.

And at the time,
he was kind of like,

"I don't need anyone else,"
you know?

And I was like, "It's free,"
and he was like, "Okay!"

For class, they actually
made us write out a proposal

for why we should
be able to do it, you know,

why we think we're suitable to
do co-op in your establishment.

And I walked in there
with all this thing in my mind.

I said, "Excuse me, sir,

"can I please do my co-op
in your store?"

And Eugene looked at me
and he said,


Some people,
they got their job there

because they were big, top DJs.

People would come
follow them at parties

and come buy records off them.

Other people ended up coming
as, like, co-op students,

and I just came
out of being a customer.

They said,
"Hey, why don't you come by?

"And, you know,
Eugene wants to talk to you."

And so Eugene talked to me
and said, "Hey, you know,

"it would be nice if you could,
you know, work here."

They all shop here,
all the top DJs,

like Chris Sheppard, Hedley,

Wayne Williams, Mike Devine,

Dr. Know, Paul Lopez, DJX.

So, initially
when I started working at

Play De Record, I had an in

to getting what was
gonna be a hit

way before it
even got to the store.

And then a lot of times,
I knew a lot of producers

that would give me their
songs on DAT, like a master,

and they would send it to me
and they'd say, "Here, play it."

It was in their best interest,

so if they were
to give it to me,

I would break it on radio,
to the clubs,

so that when
the record came out,

it would sell out
within seconds.

Record bitch!

That was my original position.

Put away vinyl,
label vinyl, price vinyl.

Write those little stupid signs
that you guys used to steal,

just rip off and throw it--
that was my job, originally.

I began to see some
of the best DJs in the city,

how they were
shopping for vinyl,

how they were
listening to vinyl,

what was making them
buy a piece of vinyl,

and I started to really become
a student of the game

and watch--
I mean, this is Toronto.

We have a million
great DJs here.

Dave Cooper, Jason Palma,
Medicine Muffin, everybody,

and these are the people
that were just on staff alone.

Kenny Glasgow.

Like, people were there,
like the best of the best.

By that time,
I had been coming to Play De

for a few years and I had become
really friendly with Eugene,

and Peter and Tyrone and Aki,
and I was starting to DJ

and I was starting to make my
name in the underground scene.

Aki went to bat for me and said,
"You should get Jason.

"He's pretty knowledgeable."

So then Eugene
asked me and he goes,

"We'll try you out.

"We'll try you out.
A couple days."

A couple days
turned into...?

Twenty-something years,
I guess, right?

Or longer.
Yeah, it's a long time!

Twenty-something years, yeah.

And I've told him this,

and I've told lots of people
this, that I think

he has the best ears in
the city, even back then.

He knows
his stuff, man.

Like, that guy knows records.

He pulled stuff that
was just like, he goes,

"Oh, just take this.
You're gonna like it."

I said, "Okay," and then you
got home and you're just like,

"Shit, this is like,
yeah, crazy."

I mean, his taste
in music was also, like,

"Don't even listen to it,
just buy it."

That guy
studies music every night.

He knows what's going on.

He DJs.

He really brought a lot to
the table, and he's a good DJ.

And Eugene was smart.

He loved music
but he didn't know everything.

He couldn't know everything.
Nobody can know everything.

But he wanted to get
the people in there

that he knew
other people respected.

So when
he hired Aki,

he knew Aki knew the young
kids that wanted house.

When he hired Peter and Tyrone,
he knew that.

When he hired Junior,
he knew Junior knew the kids

who wanted hip-hop records.

And then, he saw that I knew
what I was talking about,

he saw that I had a knack
for showing kids records

and selling records.

Because Eugene had a thing...

He's like, "Okay,
you gotta push records.

"Push 'em!"

Because he wanted to
sell records, right?

Like, Eugene loved the records,
but he loved the business.

You know,
he was trying to make money.

I was pushing--
"Hey, we gotta sell.

"We got 100 of this record
and you're not selling, man!

"I can't pay you guys, man!

"Let's sell, man!"
And then they would go.

Back then, the culture
was a little bit different.

One record could literally
make a difference

in your entire night as a DJ.

That's what my job was, is to
find out what that record is.

Then you have to
listen to somebody play the song

on their phone,
and you'd hear, you know,

just by listening to it,
whether it's good or not, right?

And that's how you'd order.

You know,
on top of ordering,

you'd have to order smart
because, you know,

if I was saying, "We're
gonna move 30 of that,"

and it just sat in the shop,

well, then he's not gonna
trust you anymore.

You had to guess.

"You know what?
I can move 10 of that.

"I can move 20 of that."

The people that worked
in the store didn't just, like,

"I focus on this
and anything else is like,

"If I like it,
I'll know about it.

"If I don't,
I don't care about it."

Regardless of what
your speciality was,

you had to know music.

But all of us
working together,

especially these guys,
you know, the young,

the youth and them,
they were pushing me, man.

And I was going for it, too,

because I wanted
to succeed, right?

Call it the
Play De Record alumni.

Like, honestly, now,
looking back on it,

so many amazing, talented people

came out of that school,
in a sense.

You know,
the knowledge that I gained

from working there,
that was my pay, you know?

I mean, Eugene, I owe it all
to Eugene, what I have now,

you know,
as I learned everything

about the record store business
and selling records from him.

So, you know, that was my pay.

There was also, though,

a whole movement
going on in the urban areas,

like in Scarborough,
where we had Mike's Music Shop,

and in Eglinton West, we had,
like, Monica's Records and,

you know, a few others
that pioneered the idea

of you sell more records

if you have a good sound system
in the record store.

It's like you're seeing a DJ.

Play De Record
had a similar concept

where I would be
playing the records

and the DJs would be
there and say,

"Yeah, that's pretty good."
I had to really know the song,

the breaks,
the best part of the song,

so that I can sell
that music to them, right?

You can hear it
before you see it.

You know, that was the beauty
about Play De Record.

You know, you can hear it
from the street

and you don't really know
where the music is coming from.

Whoever was available
and could handle the heat

would be behind the turntables
at the deck and be like, boom,

album cut, boom, 12-inch,
remix of a big song.

They played loud,

and when you play it loud...

it sounds better!


Because I know so many customers
always tell me the same thing.

They say, "Man, this store
played some songs

"and it was so good, man,
but when I got home,

"the songs sound like shit."

But I don't know.
You know what I mean?

This is a place
where everybody can come

and have an opportunity
to listen to new beats.

Well, Star Sound
was there at the time,

and Carnival Records, right?

So they were my
competition at that time.

And then,
I think Carnival closed,

and then Star Sound started...

I don't know what happened,
you know?

And then they switched to--

George took it over
and became Traxx.

There was Play De Record
and Star Sound,

which later became us.

I never worked in Star Sound,
but and I would just, you know,

like every kid, you go hop, hop,
but I only had, really,

I was going downtown.

Going downtown in itself
was an adventure, number one,

because I was never downtown.

And I would just literally
go Carnival, Play De Record,

Star Sound, just bang bang
bang bang bang.

And you're going into this
record store that, like,

all these big dog DJs are there,
and you're like,

"Oh, whoa.

That's-- oh, wow, okay,
this is what they do!"

And then you look
at the price tag

and you're like, "Okay, $7,"
and I'm like,

"Ah, I need money to get home,
I need to eat something...

"Okay, I can
take away the eating.

"But I gotta get home still!"

And Play De
just became my normal

because that's where
all my age friends were going,

because they were cool.

You know, it was family-owned.

Big difference.

Even though Eugene's dad
looked like he wants to

kill everybody in the store
when you walk in,

when you get to know them,
super cool.

You know what I mean?
The mom is super cool.

Eugene and Donna, amazing.

But my relationship with Traxx
was because of George,

who owned Traxx, was part-owner
of Traxx and Shakedown,

because I'd been using Shakedown
for so long at that point,

and I was very close
with George.

He owned
a rental company,

Shakedown Sound,

so a lot of people used to rent
off him for all sorts of stuff,

whether it was
turntables, mixers,

and he also used to DJ himself.

So anyway,
I've known him for a long time.

the right-hand side of me

is the legend, the owner
of Traxx Records, George.

What's going on?

What influenced you
to open up the shop?

Oh, well,
we got an opportunity to mix

DJ equipment sales
and records together,

and we all know every
DJ needs equipment,

so I guess we, combined
with me and Ahmed over there,

to open a store that, you know,
we could have equipment,

where they can do all
their buying in one place.

Yeah, so the difference
between George and Eugene,

I think Eugene was
kind of like your uncle

or like your older brother.

George is very, like,
he's very business-oriented.

Both great guys,
but both very, very different.

Biggest heart in the world.

Would do anything for you
when you're on his side.

But also the guy that
if he doesn't like what you do

will tell you you're an idiot,
you're an asshole.

"What the fuck are you doing?
Get the fuck out of my store."

But by the same token,
he's that guy,

if he loves you,
he'll give you the biggest hug

in the world and make sure
you get that record.

So put that into a big ball

and roll it down
the bowling alley,

and that's George.

Star Sound
was the only one around.

He should have never
let Eugene come on board.


Like, I mean,
it's just like any competition:

if you can bury them, bury them.

Star Sound
was having a hard time,

and he kind of
convinced Star Sound

to sell them Star Sound.

He asked me if I was
interested to get involved

with him in this record store
and I thought, you know,

"Hand in hand, DJs, records,
audio: perfect mix."

♪ Such a treat,
such a treat... ♪

♪ Such a treat, such a treat!

get on the right track

with Traxx!

Traxx, Canada's largest dance
music and DJ equipment emporium.

Well, we took
Peter and Tyrone from Play De,

so that was a big thing
for us at the beginning.

Getting Peter
and Tyrone was big.

Overnight it happened.

We tell Eugene, you know,
"We're going over.

"We're leaving.

"We gotta go to the store,
Traxx, and we're going."

Obviously Eugene was sad.

When George came out,
he took Peter

to his store,
so, cool, alright.

You know, and it was
nothing against Eugene

or anything.

I just needed to change.

But they were gonna
basically run my store, right?

So they were gonna be
like management.

So they had control
of what they ordered,

and I think they liked that.

And this is
where the politics

of the record stores
got very interesting.

You had Shams
down at Play De Record,

and then you had Peter
and Tyrone up the street

doing the ordering at Traxx.

The three of them happened to be
these incredible DJs

that had a DJ crew
called Peter, Tyrone & Shams.

If they wanted,
they could theoretically

bring in enough records
for each of them

to have a copy and no one else
in the city to have a copy.

This became a very
frustrating situation for me,

though Eugene would,
in many cases,

put his foot down to make
sure that I was getting

what I wanted.

I wasn't a DJ.

I wanted to get
the music out there.

I played no politics in it,
you know?

If I get a few records, I will
hold it for maybe Chris Sheppard

and Hedley for their
radio shows, you know?

Because if those guys play it,

people like it;
I'm gonna sell more.

Chris Sheppard on your radio,

feeling alright!

They have to be
taken care of first.

It would make no sense for 15
copies of an exclusive record

to come in and you're giving it
to the "basement DJs,"

and then the record just sits
and dies till the next week;

you gotta wait another week
till it comes in, right?

So, we had to
take care of the big dogs.

It's part of it.

That's the game.

But I don't know.

When I think back,
if you had the record only,

you're probably,
you know, the king, right?

You get to keep
everything because you need

to see what to reorder.

You would only order one,
to sample it,

to see if you need to
reorder some of them

for the following week.

They were saying,

"Oh, we didn't know
if the record was good."

But they knew
the record was good.

They just didn't want
anybody to have it.

They wanted to be
the first guys to play it.

You know, we had little
arguments here and there

with the staff with that shit.

Peter and Tyrone
left and Traxx opened.

Traxx was Star Sound,
turned into Traxx.

George bought it,
and then there was a price war.

He was a tough guy, too.
He was...

He was very competitive also.

We went down
a little bit in price

because we're behind
a store, man!

Who's gonna find us?

I guess
if you own the building,

like he supposedly did, that's
just I don't know for facts,

but you can get away with that.

But if you're giving 15% off,
then a dollar off,

after a while
all that shit adds up.

You're only making,
like, 2 bucks a record.

Not only were
the records $6.79,

but everybody wanted a discount.

Everybody thought
they should get a discount.

And it goes to the point
where Eugene is like,

"I can't because
it's already $6.50 or $6.79."

Like, it was crazy.

There was loyal customers
to both shops,

but at the end of the day,

everybody just wanted
the damn records.

Play De Record and Traxx
were very much neck-and-neck.

Keep in mind,
you're talking about, you know,

a Starbucks being
right next to a Tim Hortons.

They were literal walking
distance from each other,

on the same street,
on the same side of the street.

DJ Power: They were right
up the street so, I mean,

you'd go to one,
then you'd go to the other.

I would
go to Traxx first.

That was my first stop.

I would make the
trek up the street as well, too.

So, you know,
you'd go to different places,

but Play De was definitely
a staple for me

as far as the records
that I buy.

There's plenty of
red and white bags

around my parents' house
still to this day!

Eugene is
obviously closer to, like,

the actual where I would
get off on the subway.


So I would
go to Play De first

and then walk up to Traxx.

So it was always
like something snarky to say,

you know?
Yeah, yeah.

You know, a grudge
in the belly, you know?

"You don't know about me!"

Yeah, yeah,
straight up.

"Back in my
gino days," and all this stuff.

So you're like, "Okay,
whatever, dude."

But I like George.
Shoutout to George.

Respect to
George and Ahmed

for opening up Traxx.

Another thing is they have
a wide selection of DJ tapes.

Included in there is my tape,
Tricky Moreira,

and it's a Dance Nation version.
Pick it up at Traxx Records.

So, Play De is
obviously known for records,

and for 12-inch singles, etc.

Funk, house, hip-hop.

But what people might not know
about Play De Record

was the mixtape era.

That was
a huge part of our revenue.

After you get past
the porn and everything,

the first thing you see
is the mixtape wall.

Those mixtapes were, like,
the first time you heard stuff,

heard music, heard verses,
heard of artists.

They'd be
a calling card.

DJs would create mixtapes to
showcase the kind of sounds

they'd play and how
they mixed them.

I would buy Jason Palma
cassettes, JoJo Flores.

I would buy drum and bass CDs
and mixtapes from there.

Like, I had
Neil Armstrong from New York.

He was like, "I need to
go to Play De Record,"

because he needed to break off
Eugene with some mixtapes.

If you don't have your mixtapes
at Play De,

you're not hitting
your target audience.

I did a mixtape
and he goes,

"How many copies do you have?"

I said, "Oh, I got,
I dunno, 30 copies."

"Okay, give me all 30."
"Oh!" I said, "Okay!"

So it was like-- and I know
some of the hip-hop guys,

they were just, like,
selling out the door.

I lent one of my tapes
to a buddy at school

and he really liked it, and he's
like, "Can you make me a tape?"

"I've got way too much homework.
I've got too much going on.

"That's not happening."
He used to cut hair,

so he always had money,
and he's like, "I'll pay you."

"Pay me?" He's like,
"Yeah, I'll give you 10 bucks."

Ten bucks?
That's a new 12-inch!

So, a 12-inch and lunch!

You know, he loved it,
and then his friends copied it

and it went around the school.
This was in high school.

And you know, before I know it,
I'm doing Sweet Sixteens

and high school dances,
and I kind of just

stumbled into it as a fan.

I have all this vinyl,
I want to make a mixtape.

So, I started trying to
make mixtapes

for just my friends and myself.

It's like,
"Yo, listen to my tape!

"Listen to my demo!
Please listen to my demo."

You know what I mean?
Got feedback from people.

The girls liked the R&B.

"Oh, do you have this song?
Do you have this song?"

One tape turned
into a whole empire,

but that's more for the story.

When I say "baby,"
y'all say "blue!"

And I did it on
a Victoria Day long weekend.

That was the weekend that
you wanted to get mixtapes

in people's hands because
it was like the official start

to the summer,
and this is probably

what you're gonna bump.

If you like the mixtape and
you got it on May 24 weekend,

it was gonna bump all summer.

I used to distribute to friends,
and then I began,

like, selling them.

I knew that, okay,
I needed to get into the spot

where the big DJs
had their tapes.

A couple of DJs came in
and approached me and said,

"Hey, can we sell
some mixtapes?"

And I was like,
"Okay, sure, why not?

"It will help boost sales
for the mixtapes

"and also pay for
the high property taxes."

And one of those DJs' names
was Mastermind.

At the time,
there is a group of DJs

who are already taste-makers
in the city.

Mastermind is one of them.

DJX is the other one.

And if you're an aspiring DJ,

you want to be
one of these two guys.

When it
came to hip-hop,

there is no competition.

When it came to hip-hop,
there was Mastermind.

♪ 21 years of my life--
21 years of my lifetime... ♪

You know what I mean?

Mastermind laid the pavement
down when it came to hip-hop.

♪ Choclair's in the house.

♪ 21 years of my lifetime.

♪ Yeah, you need to recognize
what you had is lies. ♪

♪ 21 years of pure bullshit

♪ It makes me wanna
bang my head off the walls ♪

♪ And do some shit like all
street swarms in the malls ♪

♪ Mentality,
it's not where it should be ♪

♪ When you see red and white
lights break the night skies ♪

♪ Reflection of a mad man
in the tear ♪

♪ Now another brother dies,
another in handcuffs ♪

♪ Mothers' knees
start to buckle up and fall

when they see their child
outlined in chalk. ♪

There you go.

The man.

That's the man.

I was introduced to
hip-hop through breakdancing.

Saw it downtown at the
Eaton's Centre at a young age.

I heard somebody
blasting hip-hop,

breakdance music
at the time I guess

is what it was known for,

on his radio, and I was like,
"Yo, where do you get this?

"Where do you find this?"

And he told me
about a radio show.

Saturday afternoons,
1 to 4, on 88.1.

Mastermind was
just a young kid.

He used to call
into the radio show,

and I liked this guy because
he was able to name songs.

Whenever I quizzed people,

he would be that guy that would
get all the names of the songs.

Eventually we developed
a friendship.

I was always
making tapes for people,

who'd always say,
"Hey, make me a tape.

"Make me a tape"; so my
girlfriend would get a tape.

Some of my best friends
would get tapes,

or they would get dubs of
the tapes that I would make.

Too Black Guys clothing store,
they were probably

the first place that I ever
put any tapes for sale.

They're selling out so quick
at Too Black Guys,

there's other places
I can start selling them.

You know,
there's barbershops, there's--

and then, there's a couple
of record stores,

Play De Record and Traxx.

I went and saw Eugene
one fateful day,

and it kind of blew up
from there.

He came to our store
and he liked what we were doing,

and became friends,
and he kind of hooked me up

with some guys in New York.

You know, those guys kept me
abreast with some of the music.

He literally
was like, "Yo, sold out.

"Yo, I need more, I need more."

And the one advantage
that I had,

and I think that might
have been above and beyond

all the other guys,
is I had a radio show.

The Mastermind Street Jam.

Str-Street Jam!

And so I used
my radio show to promote

that I had tapes and where
they were being sold.

They just started to fly
out of Eugene's store.

And so, even in hindsight,
the majority, like the most,

were being sold out
of Play De Record.

We continue
with the freestyles.

This is part of the
Let's Make a Record Deal series

that's on the album representing
Scar Town, Scar City,

Citizen Kane, y'all.

At that point,
Play De was also a ticket spot.

Any type of event or party
that was happening in the city,

"Tickets available at..."

The first place
they would say on any roll,

any commercial you heard,
the first name you'd always hear

is "Play De Record."

It was central.
Everybody knew where it was.

It didn't matter
if I was doing a reggae show

or if I was doing a hip-hop show
or if I was just doing a dance,

if I sold tickets and I put them
on sale with Eugene,

I would have to go back
to restock that store.

It wasn't uncommon
for me to take tickets

from other stores
and give them to Eugene.

You know, I'm call Shanti Baba
on Queen Street,

"How many tickets do you
have left for Erykah Badu?"

"40, but don't--
people are coming!

"People are calling, dude!"

And I'm like,
"I need, like, 30 of them."

He's like, "Let me guess,
you're giving them to Eugene?"

I'm like, "Yeah."

Eugene didn't
just make money

and make a business
out of selling records.

That's a good part of it,
but the other big part of it

is selling tickets to parties.

You have, like, 20, 30,
maybe even 50 promoters

that were doing parties
all the way from Hamilton

to Pickering, to Ajax,
to even Whitby, doing parties.

They're bringing everybody
into this space,

and from that space
they're buying records.

But what else are they doing

when they're
coming in the store?

If they're not a DJ,
they're buying mixtapes.

So now you've got all
these regular masses

coming into a shop to buy
tickets to the regular parties

they want to go to,
but then while they're there

they're gonna see,
"Oh, the same DJ

"that I'm gonna go to
their party has a mixtape,

"Baby Blue Soundcrew."
Like, that's how it's all

an ecosystem, and Play De Record
is the hub of it,

which is crazy.

The sounds
and energy and all that

at Play De Record were,

it was a distinctly
different energy on a Thursday

because that's when
all the new records came in.

The other stores
did Friday,

but I wanted to
have a jump on them,

so I decided to try and get
the music on Thursday

before those guys,
then I have a day.

And I would go and rush down,
go and pick it up,

bring it back,
and then I have it before them.

Then everybody caught on

and they started
doing it on Thursdays.

So, that's how Thursdays
became well-known, right?

We learned
that new records came out

on Thursdays.

Straight in my uniform--
I went to a Catholic school,

so straight downtown
in my uniform,

straight to the record store,
straight to Play De.

When you get out
downtown it's like,

"Ahh, I'm here!"

You walk in and, yeah, you
see different faces you know.

You see people on the come-up.

You see people
that you want to be.

And you knew
what they were there for,

'cause Thursday was the day.

You guys
are getting it wrong.

Thursday starts on Monday.

On Monday, you gotta
get your orders in.

Monday, you know,
all week you've been writing

song titles down
on this little piece of paper,

collecting from your
stratosphere of information.

And then Thursday comes--
the boxes arrive!

You know,
my shift would at 3.

I'd make sure I'm there for 2.

George would come back
from Buffalo--

and everybody knew this;
the same with Eugene.

Everybody knows what time
they're coming through

from the border.

Eugene would be
picking up the records

in Buffalo.

He would pick them up
at around 2 o'clock.

He'd arrive at the store at 4.

And it was a race.

It was a race to see
who would get from Buffalo

to Toronto faster.

We'd be there looking at
each other sometimes, you know?

At customs, and we would
just give the stare down.

I used to never talk to him.

He used to never talk to me.

I'd come back early enough

so that there's no chaos,
because those guys...

DJs, man...

They're hungry.

♪ Now, yeah, nowadays.
Yeah, yeah... ♪

♪ Yeah, nowadays.

♪ Yeah, yeah, nowadays.

But if
I come back early,

then that's great, you know?

Everybody starts working,
pricing records,

and then get everything ready
and then bringing it out.

But if I come late, then it got
chaotic because DJs come in,

"Hey, what's going on?"

And as soon as we
pull out the record,

everybody grabbing records.

And, like, we didn't even
price the records yet.

We didn't check it in.
You know what I mean?

You kind of
went in there,

you were a little bit nervous,

you would say hi to people.

But I was most concerned
about getting the records

that I wanted to get.

If you had
certain records--

like, you know, I participated
in a DJ competition

for Psychosis, and this was
like in 1992,

and I lost because
of one record.

♪ Come on downtown, follow me,
come on downtown, follow me. ♪

played this one

Suburban Base promo
and it was the biggest record

that was out at the time.

He just literally played it
and the place went crazy,

and I lost the competition.

So that's like how important
having certain music was.

All the other
DJs are there,

so you're meeting
whoever and whatever,

and you're waiting for your pile
of records to come out.

That's if you got a pile.

There's the ten main guys

that come in, the ten big DJs.

Make them bags so they don't
have to fight for the records.

So if we had ten copies
of a house record,

they went in ten bags.

Okay, there's
tick, tick, tick, tick.

So now we got
seven records left.

Okay, and I'd take
my deep breath,

and I would look and peek
around the wall like this,

see who's in there.

knows who you are?

Chances are you're just
gonna get what's leftover

at the bottom of the barrel of,
like, vinyl that came in.

There's a pecking order.

You kind of move your way up
and you get your standing.

You get some notoriety.
People start seeing

your name on a flyer a lot
and they're like, "Oh!"

Because the flyers
are in the stores.

The posters are in the stores,
and that's you!

They go to the parties and
they're like, "Oh, that's you!"

This is
when you didn't have--

you weren't
at the respect level.

I wasn't at
the respect level yet

where he's just giving me a bag.

I got to the respect level.

Okay, Power's got a bag!

So, but at first,
you don't get that bag,

so you're fighting,
fighting, fighting.

you got elbowed

as you were trying to fight
for some new vinyl.

It was like
"Lord of the Flies."

They would come out
of the back with the records,

and they're trying to put
the records on the shelves.

And, like, if it was like a hot
12-inch like Souls of Mischief,

"93 'Til Infinity,"
people are grabbing the records

out of whoever's stocking
the shelves' hands

before they can even
get on the shelf.

Yeah, I saw fistfights.

They would come out with records

and people were grabbing
like crazy.

So, it was intense

but beautiful at the same time,

if that makes sense.

Like, being there was--

you knew you were experiencing
something, you know?

They use the word,
this term, FOMO, right?

If you weren't at
Play De Record on Thursday,

you feared that you
missed something because

the vibe
and the intensity was crazy.

just for music, man!

I met
everybody there.

People that I still consider
friends to this day,

like DJs on the scene, aspiring
DJs, DJs that were already,

you know, doing things,

and yeah, we all had that,
and it was a community vibe.

It's sort of
like Cheers, right?

You walk in, you know somebody.

It was
the equivalent of Norm

walking in from Cheers,
you know?

You would see
all the DJs once a week.

So, you know, Son of SOUL,
rest in peace,

like we would see
Son of SOUL there,

and he was such
a great mentor to me

and so many other DJs.

He would put us on to so many
other records because

he was OG and he would
see us and be like,

"Wow, these guys are
like taking this seriously.

"Let me help them."

I mean, he was very generous
with his time and his knowledge.

But he wasn't the only one.

There was so many other DJs.
Dale Evans.

From Scratch, Mastermind.

You know,
Chris Sheppard was there.

You would see Hedley.

it'd be Skimpy Boy

or whether it'd be
the Baby Blue guys

or any number of the huge,
significant house DJs.

The mixtape DJs,
the radio DJs, the club DJs.

Like, the strip club DJs.

Like, everybody would find
their way to Play De Record.

Guys were doing missions,
driving from Buffalo,

from Detroit,
from New York City,

just to come get their record
fix in at Play De Record,

you know?

So Chris, how
often do you come down here?

Oh, you've gotta
make sure you're here

at least every Thursday,
and sometimes twice a week.

So is Thursday
the day that all the records

come in?
Thursday's the day.

We're here a little bit early.

The records should be
just coming in right now.

So literally
it's like waiting at the dock

for the fish to come in?
Yeah, yeah.

That's it, that's it.
It's wicked, you know?


Actually, I think
the records have arrived.

We've beat the fish to the pond.

Oh, see?

This is it, this is it!
The shipment has arrived!

Where are the DJs?!


There's the guy responsible.

We used to do
charts in the store.

Medicine Muffin used to run
the drum and bass.

Jason Palma, hip-hop.

I did the reggae.

Ernest Adams
from the Outlaws did soca,

and Elvis did the dance stuff.

I had a second location
in Scarborough

and we used to do
warehouse sales there.

I used to do some
booby traps, right?

Like, I would put like
a Puff Daddy album

or Notorious BIG on sale,
it'd be like $2,

and people...
"Two dollars?!"

I remember doing the next one
and it was a big line-up,

like over 100 people around
the block, going down,

what road was it?

Lawrence, Lawrence Avenue.

Eugene opened up
a store in Scarborough?!

And what's great is, like,
I lived on Lawrence.

I lived at Morningside.

I lived around the corner from
where we are right now actually.

To hear he opened up a spot
in Scarborough down the street

from me, I was like,
"Yo, this is amazing."

My brother asked me.

He said, "You know,
we have an opportunity

"to build a business
in Scarborough,"

and I said, "Sure.
I'll try it out."

It's a lot smaller,
less hectic version of downtown.

The interactions were
a little more calm, to say,

but it was a great experience.

And, like, being at the store
kind of became my home

and people knew
to check me there.

To me, it was ultimately
the dream job.

The first time
I came to Play De Record,

I believe, was when I came
to Toronto for a DJ battle.

All we knew is, like,

"Let's get a hotel as close to
Play De Record as we can."

So we stayed at the Marriott
on Yonge that was, like,

you know, just above...

I don't know where it was.

It was crazy because
when you're a kid from Halifax

coming to Toronto,
everything seems so far away,

and now it's like
it's next door.

Yeah, I remember the first time
I walked into Play De Record.

At that time, they had a lot of
illicit material in the front...

Or whatever.

I don't know if it was illicit.
It looked like a porn shop

at the front!
And I was like,

"What's going on here?
Is this the right place?"

You know?
"I feel a little shy."

Actually, I brought
one record today

that I found there
the first day I was there.

I found a copy of Lord Finesse,
"The Awakening,"

and I'd been looking for this
because there was a copy of this

that had the instrumentals
in it as well.

And also, I later found out
that's DJ Mastermind's tag,

so this is Mastermind's
copy of this.

I remember I brought it to
the cash, Eugene looked at it,

and he said, "Where'd
you find that?"

And I was like,
"It was over there!"

I don't know.

I'm still, to this day--
"Eugene, do I owe you this?"

I don't know.
But this was that--

I found that record
the first time I was there,

and I was just amazed
that I found that there.

I was super hyped,
and I'll always remember

that first visit
to Play De Record.

So, we know about Play De Record
from watching MuchMusic.

I almost want to say, like,
on Rap City they'd have,

like before commercials,
they would roll something

like saying it's available,
you know?

Or like on extended mix,
D.C.'s Pics.

Well, Master T and Dave,
his DJ, Dave Campbell,

they were looking for sponsors.
They approached me.

They said,
"Can you sponsor this show?"

And then, MuchMusic was
all over extended mix rap CDs.

They go all over Canada.

You're with
Canada's first and only music

television network, MuchMusic,

the nation's music station!

I developed
a relationship with MuchMusic

from when I used to dance
with Michie.

♪ The feel
is Jamaican funk! ♪

And there was a girl
there named Michele Geister.

If you're talking about
Ron Nelson,

you have to talk about
Michele Geister,

because she basically
brought hip-hop to MuchMusic.

So, just think about
the old Rap City and all that,

that's all Michele Geister.

As important as Ron Nelson is,

Michele Geister
is just as important--

maybe, per se,
might be even more important.

I actually
couldn't get her for this.

She's in Jamaica.

I could get her on the phone
for you if you need.

Where do you want me?

I think
my DJing days really started

with my first turntable,
which was about 11 years old.

Even back as a preteen,
I was a vinyl junkie.

When I babysat, that's what
I got as rewards or gifts

from the people I babysat for,
was vinyl.

My roommate,
Karen Young, and myself

were asked by
the infamous Tasmanian Ballroom

to play in their
basement dancefloor.

So, Pauly Lopez
is somebody, for example,

who would tell me
a lot about Michele,

and she really knew her music
and she was out there

with her records, but she was
also on the TV side of things.

Music television,
MuchMusic was just starting,

and I knew that's
where I wanted to be.

I moved to Toronto
and I was just determined

I would get a job there.

One of my classmates did
get a job and she called me

to say they were looking for
someone, a technician position.

I had been making television
since I was in high school.

Welcome to another
edition of Soul in the City.

Well, it's not just another
edition of Soul in the City;

here we're going to
endeavour to show you

some of the various forms
of house music.

Soul in the City
was a video version

of a radio program that the host
and creator, Michael Williams,

had done previously
when he lived in Montreal.

You know, my official title was
associate producer, but I wrote,

I researched,
I produced, I directed.

And Soul in the City
was so exciting

and it was so well-received,
but out of a music station

that was 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week, it was only one hour.

And at the time,
hip-hop as starting to blow up.

Oh, no doubt,
Maestro and Michie Mee,

Dream Warriors at that time,
and Rumble,

they set the tone for Toronto,
Canadian hip-hop.

Yeah, Maestro was
a huge influence on Rascals.

Michie Mee, and Rumble,

all these records,
they reached us.

Like, 100%.

And we were fully influenced
by and we were watching like,

"Yeah, what's going
on over there?" right?

Eventually, I was
lucky enough to get the call

and hear that, "Yes, you can
start working on a program."

And in September 1989,

we had our first
half-hour edition of Rap City.


Back then,
people more watched TV.

There was no steaming online.

There was, like, more cable,
so everybody paid attention

to Rap City at the time.
That was a big deal back then.

Like a DJ wanted to
have that exclusive vinyl,

I wanted to be
the one to debut a video

that no one else had seen.

As soon as you
see your boy on it,

or as soon as you were on it,
that was the superstar status.

That's when
you felt like a star.

And I actually
remember when it dropped,

and it came after
a Shaquille O'Neal video.

And I remember that
and I'm thinking,

"Here's this NBA superstar
doing his hip-hop thing, and me,

"back-to-back," and I knew
the rest of the country

was watching it with me, man.
It was amazing.

It was literally
a dream come true

because I had been dreaming
about that happening,

like, since I was a little kid.

We were
promoting the music,

and they could go to
Play De Record and find

everything they wanted there.

that was playing

or anything that was premiered,
whether it was MTV or MuchMusic,

we had to have.

We did the promo,
they did the sales!

I would say it would have been
how things worked.

And I really
do give props to Eugene for,

you know, doing what
he's done for so long.

Hip-hop music has had
its challenges in Canada.

It's always been hard.

In more recent years, Drake,
you know, the Weeknd,

have blown up into huge stars.

It wasn't always like that.

The last 12 months
have been good and bad

for Toronto rap group
Ghetto Concept.

On Sunday, the group collected
their second Juno in two years.

Last year,
we won it without a video,

without major label support
and all that,

and we surprised everybody.
This year, we had a video.

We did a tour across Canada.

We started
driving down there,

and I want to say it was in
Hamilton or something that year,

and we drove and we got there,
and they had already won,

and we were at the top of
the escalator or whatever it is,

and they were just actually
coming from wherever it is

taking photos,
and they're like, "Yo, we won!"

And we were, like, "What?
Like, seriously?"

You know, if you equate
that to like a Grammy, right?

If you're saying, "Okay, well,
these two won back-to-back,"

you would think that a label
or somebody would be coming

to you to say,
"Hey, you know,

"let's work or let's
do something," right?

So, it didn't really happen.

I mean, it happened,
but it didn't really morph into

what you would think it would,
right, so...

We're trying
to get out there.

We're trying to be seen.

And at the same time,
you know, we're at a status,

we're winning the same Junos
that other people in there

are winning.

It's the same Juno.

So, I mean, why don't
we get the same props?

We had
Maestro Fresh Wes.

He was probably one of the few
outside of Dream Warriors

that made big tracks
and trails for us.

But again, after their run...

So you'd think it'd
kind of pick up from there,

but it didn't.

It was like there was this lull,
and I think the Canadian

music industry
just treated it like a fad.

With my album done, complete,

I put it in front of them
and they told me,

"How do you expect this
to make any money?

"It's not geared
towards white kids."

And I'm like, "Well, it's
not meant to be geared

"towards white kids.
It's hip-hop, right?

"It's geared towards
ghetto kids, right?"

He goes, "Well,
that doesn't sell records."

And I go, "Well, how much
do you expect it to sell?"

And he goes,

"Well, you'll be lucky
if you sold 5,000 records."

I go, "So if I put
this album out myself

"and I sold 5,000 records,
you'll sign me?"

He goes, "Well, if you
sell 5,000 records of this,

"I'll sign you tomorrow."

I put it out and sold
20,000 records,

and I came back to him
and he still didn't sign me.

Black music
wasn't really embraced

to that extent, you know?

It wasn't as equal as some of
the other forms of music were.

So I don't think
people really realized

the potential that hip-hop had.

It was underground
to the mainstream,

but it wasn't
underground to the youth.

It really was a fresh,
new movement.

There was just this system

who had decided
how much we could get.

It took a lot
to put out a record.

It was expensive.
It was a big process.

To record a song,

you'd have to pay
$100 an hour at a studio.

It would take you four hours
to record a song,

and then that song
had to be mastered.

To master that song
takes four hours, right?

So that's $800,
recording and mastering a song.

And then, you have to do
an album with 12 songs.

only became producers

out of necessity.

Like, we couldn't afford to
buy other people's beats.

And it's not like we were like,

"Yo, let's be producer-rappers."
We were like,

"Well, we can't afford
to pay Scam or pay DJX,"

or anybody else
that was producing at the time,

so we were like...

you had to manufacture.

Guys don't have to do it now
because they just download it.

We weren't
doing it for the money.

Absolutely not.

'Cause to us, if you
gave us $150 bucks, like,

we would have been ecstatic.

It wasn't for the money.

It wasn't for anything
other than the pure love

of hip-hop and wanting
to be MCs.

Therefore, that's where

Steppin' Bigga, Groove-A-Lot.

We'd do our own stuff
and then hopefully send it down

to New York and maybe
one of those DJs will play it,

or maybe overseas,
Japan, you know?

I saw people
coming in bringing mixtapes

and then bringing their own
cassettes of their own stuff.

The quality wasn't so hot, right?

Like, then I had an idea.

I was thinking, "Why don't
I help out these guys?"

Nobody even
knew there was a basement

at Play De Record,
let alone that they were

working on building a studio.

It was just dark
and the stairs were creaky

and it was like, "Wah!"

And the lightbulb
was kind of flashing.

And, you know, there's just
boxes of records everywhere.

There was
so much shit back there.

Like, I don't know how
they had space for it all.

And then the studio, you'd
walk into the studio and it was,

you know, nothing elaborate.

It was all, you know,
built by everybody.

Steppin' Bigga as a business
was three people:

Eugene, John Bronski,

and 2 Rude was kind of
the in-house producer

who'd bring in
these acts and stuff.

The first artist
was Apple & Orange,

and he gave me a little sample
and I was like,

"Well, maybe I can
help you out."

And then Rude
came with the beats,

and that's how we all met.

This is my second
release, Freaks of Reality.

So then, he played me Saukrates

and, like, a bunch of stuff,

and Saukrates caught
my, you know, my ear.

Oh, John Bronski
brought it to me.

Yeah, and we listened
and I was like,

"We need to do something
with this guy."

Back then,
we were like,

"If anybody is gonna make it,
and really, you know,

"put Toronto on the map,
it was gonna be him.

I really judged
a record sonically.

How's that rapper's
voice sound, right?

Like, does he have a cool voice?

That's why I think me
and a lot of DJs were like,

"Yo, Saukrates is ill."

You know,
we were all

gonna record this freestyle.

So, you know,
Marvel went in, did his thing,

I went in, did my thing.

You know, Sauks went in

and we heard
this guy on the mic.

We're like, "The f...

"Yo, who is that?!"

When his voice got on a real,

real microphone and they were
able to pick up the sonics,

life was never the same
after seeing him

go into the booth for
the first time and coming out.

♪ Hate runs
deep in the hearts of many. ♪

♪ Hate runs deep
in the guts of all. ♪

♪ 'Cause your hate
can judge your fate. ♪

♪ When guns blaze at nighttime

'cause it's
the right time for wrong. ♪

♪ Index fingers touch rewind as
my aura propels your mindstate

leaving behind fake visions. ♪

♪ You're blind
'cause it's hard to find. ♪

♪ Lyrics flood the black market
more than rock and steel. ♪

♪ My stock's hot
'cause it's realer than real

when caps peel. ♪

♪ Pay rent for cement,
mothers' hearts gettin' bent

'cause nights is trife. ♪

♪ It's chillin' like a villain
executin' his killin'

but there's
no blood spillin'... ♪

Just a taste!

Every, I don't know
if it was Tuesday or Thursday--

I can't remember--
we'd get on the train,

9th grade, and hit Yonge Street.

And we'd first stop
at Play De Record,

then scour Traxx
and the other two or three

that were up the block.
Like, we were in it.

Plus, but we wouldn't know what
it was because we had to listen

on that Saturday
to the stations.

And once we knew
what they were playing,

then we gotta go see Eugene
to start to get those songs

in our own collection.

So, he had a studio.

He got a great engineer
in Alex G,

and they wanted to do
another one, John Bronski said.


Yo, we get to go
to Play De Record?

Like, never mind,
I have to be honest,

never mind the record deal part,
we're like,

"Yo, we get to go
to Play De Record?"

That's how
I connected there,

but I'd been buying records
from Play De Record

for two years prior to that,

so I was familiar
with the building,

and I knew it was a Mecca.

So when I got invited to record
in the studio of the Mecca...

Yo, live on WKMA,

you've got yo nigga Kool-Aid.

You got
in the house too, G.

Yo, steppin' up we have that
nigga from the East Side,


that's shit's from.

Yo, Saukrates, step up and show
'em what you can do, nigga.

♪ They get
caught in ill positions. ♪

♪ Famous quote from me,
Saukrates. ♪

♪ Groupies rock my boat,
I used to step lightly. ♪

Internationally known,

locally accepted.

You gotta do both.

If you do that, you're gone.

And Eugene
gave me the opportunity

to be locally accepted.

And once it's pressed on
the vinyl, you ship it,

then you're
internationally known.

For the independent
artist to go into Play De Record

and say, "Hey, Eugene, I got
a new record I want to put out,"

it was a lot more
challenging with, like,

an HMV or a Sam
the Record Man or whatnot.

You couldn't walk into
Sam the Record Man and say,

"Oh, I put out a new record.

"Do you guys wanna
give it a listen?"

"Take a seat in the back
or something."

I don't know,
"Step outside.

"We'll call you
when we're ready."

So, I asked
Eugene if I could do

a Rap Essentials display,
and he was like,

"Oh, no, I'll put it
in there for you."

I'm like, "No, no, no,
I want the whole window."

"I don't know:
Daddy would say no."

And I'm like, "Eugene, come on.
Just let me do it one week."

I don't know how it happened,
but he said yes.

"Yo, when you
get the posters, let me know.

"I'll post it up when
you've got the shows.

"I'll put out the flyer."

He put it right in front
so everybody could see it.

The money
was always there.

My mixtapes were
flying at that time,

but he always made sure
the bread was straight

or, like, the count was good.

Or, you know, we always had
a section to sell our tapes,

and it didn't matter if there
was 50 other MCs, you know,

trying to sell their
mixtapes or whatever.

Like, he always made sure
we were good inside the spot.

At the time,
I remember, you know, my dad,

Delroy G, showcasing,
bringing the dope,

real reggae music to
Toronto for years now.

When I got my record up there,
I was like,

"Oh, I want my record to be just
like how when me and my dad

were rolling through, picking up
all these vintage records."

But yeah,
when you do come in here

and you do see
Saukrates on the wall,

you see Da Grassroots on
the wall or something like that,

you would know
that people were making

some of those records
to get on this wall.

So, I think that that says
something about even

being the outlet, being the goal
for a lot of these people.

Mixtapes, too.

I want my mixtape
to be right behind.

I want to have that hot spot.

Like, that environment

helped stimulate the art
that comes from a city.

I think there's
a direct connection.

You know, me and Eugene,
we were spending, like,

every night,
like all day, all night.

You know, we slept
in the studio some nights.

I remember even
when I finished, I...

I was opening the store.

I didn't even sleep sometimes.

Now, we didn't get
too far because, I mean,

it was a financial strain
for, you know,

the Tam Family to have this
label that, you know, wasn't--

it was always in the red.

At that time,
you promo DJ pools and stuff,

and they would play on
the radio and push this stuff.

If they like it,
whatever, right?

We promoed the stuff,
and the next thing I know

it was all over on the internet,

people downloading,
and nobody buying.

So, that kind of soured my,
you know, soured me, and I said,

"You know what?
I'm done with this."

That was a really rough time.

It was my day off
with some friends, and I go,

"Let me pop into Play De."
I needed to grab something

from the back or ask Eugene
something; I couldn't remember.

I walk in and the gate's up.

I'm like,
"What the hell's going on?"

Why is the gate up?
It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

It shouldn't be closed.
The lights are on.

I see Eugene in there.
I see people in there.

I opened the shop,
turned everything on,

got everything going
in the store.

So I walk down
and I start to open the gate,

and some guy I don't recognize,

some older white guy with
a moustache, he's like,

"Excuse me, sir."

And then I see Eugene over and
he just looks at me and he goes,

No, no, no.

"Go, go."

I found out, obviously later,

that it was the RCMP
that told me not to come in.

25, 30 cops,
and undercovers, said,

"Hold it right there,"

like to me and the other
employee that was there.

And I can't remember
who was there.

I think it was a co-op student
actually, to be honest with you.

They said that they're
coming for the mixtapes

because of copyright infringement.

And I remember
Peter calling me on the phone

and going,
"We just got busted.

"They're charging me."

I said, "Okay, Peter,
I'm on my way,"

because I was
on my way to work.

I told them, I said,
"I'm the owner.

"You know,
you need to charge me."

We went through the courts.

It got dropped.

I remember I was talking
to Kid Kut, and he said,

"Baby Blue is putting out
a new mixtape,"

and he goes,
"We're gonna put it on CDs."

"Man, I don't know
if you should do that,

"because now
we're putting stuff up

"on the, like, top format."

It was a new thing,
burning on CDs,

so we started burning onto CDs,

and then eventually
we ended up pressing CDs.

And when
they started making CDs,

they really started competing
with the record labels,

and that's what made
them take notice, right?

You know, obviously,
DJs are selling mixtapes

without having their approval,
but that's all fucked up

because at the end of the day,

all those DJs that are doing
mixtapes were getting free music

that the record companies were
giving them to promote that.

The record labels would
service DJs and record pools,

and part of the service was you
had to fill out response sheets

for the records
they were servicing.

They wanted to know what
you thought of these records.

One of the questions
on those surveys,

on every record that you got,

"Would you put
this song on your mixtape?"

At the time,
there was a culture

that was made up
of DJs and taste-makers,

independent labels,
and record shops,

and the clothing store,
and everybody was like

working together
to build something here.

What it felt like to me
was like the labels

were clearing the runway
to do their thing.

You ask me
how it affected Eugene,

he had to go to court.

He spent thousands
upon thousands of dollars

to defend himself,

and it weighed heavy on him
in those years.

I know that for sure.

yeah, it was, like,

kind of disheartening because,
like, everybody is doing it.

Everybody is selling.

Well, you know what?

I'm not too sure if I feel
comfortable talking about it.

But everybody was doing it,
and they picked us.

You know what I mean?

Why us?

His parents
had a heavy dictation

on what was happening
with the business.

It was their business as much
as it was Eugene's business,

and they were there constantly,
aware of everything

and watching over, like hawks,
what was going on.

When the cops came in,
that spooked Daddy and Mommy

as much as it spooked Eugene,

and I think
that together eventually

is why Eugene asked
if I wanted to buy the business.

Sasha was
born in 1992.

She is a leap year baby.

And my son was born in 1995.

I didn't get to see them much.

I used to be in the store here
at 12 o'clock.

Sometimes I'd go
and pick up stuff, do stuff.

There used to be, like,
a very small office

and a kitchen in the back,

and my brother and I would do
homework there most days.

Yeah, after school
we would come back to the store

and just waited around
until we went home,

so we would just
eat dinner there,

do homework, play around.

I would only see them
at 12 o'clock at night.

They're supposed to be sleeping,

but they're hiding
when they hear me coming.

I would hide at home
before my dad came home

and then surprise him.

I guess it was just the way
'cause we didn't really

see him for a lot, right?

And even if my parents
were at the store,

I remember trying
to stay up till, like,

11 or 12 when they came back
home to, like, see them,

but it didn't always work out.

I just still think it was like
my dad's other child almost,

because he was here
the majority of the time.

You know,
I was going every Thursday

to pick up records.

The records are still coming in

and they still gotta
go out, right?

So, bringing those two guys in
was-- you know, helped.

I was working around
the corner at Covenant House

and spent any free moment
I had in the shop.

Got to know Eugene,
of course, and Donna,

and then Eugene and Donna
were now young parents.

I think both of them really
wanted to be able to focus

on their family a bit more

and they were
looking for an out.

So they mentioned it to Jason,
and Jason mentioned it to me.

And one day Eugene
came up to me and he goes,

"We're thinking about
selling the business.

"Are you interested?"
I said, "Yeah."

I didn't think I could
do it on my own.

Nav was my very good friend.

We were just like, "Yeah!
Let's do it!"

Effectively, at that point,
we bought Play De Record.

The deal was Eugene and Donna
stay on for six months.

You know, a consultancy period.

But when Nav
and I brainstormed ideas

and talked to Eugene,
Eugene got excited

and he got a new zest
for it and said,

"You know what?
I'm gonna stay."

we devised this schedule

that worked for Eugene
and Donna to remain.

When I look back, I mean,

damn, if it had
gone any other way,

it would have been
a catastrophe.

I could have walked
away from the store, you know?

But he loves it,
so he continues.

I think being here all day
is not work for him.

He loves being here all day,
listening to music.

I was always
going to motivational courses

and looking at other businesses,
thinking, you know,

"How can I, you know,

"maybe diversify just in case
something happens to the store?"

Which, you know, some of
the stuff I learned, like,

you set a goal

and you do whatever
it takes to get that goal.

So it doesn't matter
if I didn't sleep or whatever,

I'd just go and I'd try
to achieve that goal.

And even to this day,
I still do the same thing,

where if somebody is
looking for something,

I try my best to try
and get it to them.

Sometimes the DJs would ask me,

"Bring me a record in the club."

I was like,
"Oh, come on, man.

"Do you really
need this record?"

But I know the DJ needs it
because, you know,

one of my things also is
the music can't stop.

I just kind of-- the music's
gotta keep on going.

I think a lot of how
we've been able to maintain

and stay at such a high level
for so long is

a lot of it is how
we deal with people.

And I did learn
a lot of that from him.

I got, you know,
my asshole side from George,

how to not take shit
from people,

and I got the camaraderie,
community thing from Eugene.

If you ask me, like, a moment
where one started to pull away

from the other,
I couldn't tell you.

But Eugene outsold us.
100%, I know that for a fact.

That bothered me,
but once I got out of it,

I was like, I don't know
how old I was in 2000,

but it was over.

Like, I walked away from it.
I was good with it.

No, it didn't bother me.

But during the competition,
oh, he used to bother me!

He used to bother me.

Actually, funny you say that--

Eugene bought all my records.

Call up Eugene,
he comes to my dad's house,

he went through my records,

started nickel and diming here
and I said, "Look, Eugene,

"either you take the whole batch
or you don't take it at all."

And I took that money

and I bought
a dock at my cottage,

which I should call
Play De Record,

which I still have up to now,

that I built a dock
with the money he gave me.

True story.

I'm just shocked
that he's still doing it.

Like, I mean,
is the industry still there?

Are people buying records?

Like, why is he still just
kicking the bucket doing that?

How long
did the Thursday thing last?

Like when did it--
Oh, forever.

Until, like, the 2010s.

You know what I mean?

That's when things
started-- poof!

Digital, man.

Digital killed it.

is a program or a software

that basically allows DJs
to use digital files

from their laptop
or from a hard drive.

You can use it
with CD turntables.

You can use it with
regular turntables.

You can use it
with a controller.

But you can also
just connect to a mixer

and you can play
your whole entire set

literally just off
your computer.

When Serato came out in 2005,

a lot of guys already
had a lot of digital files,

so they were kind of already
ready to go there.

Once I got to try it, oh
my god, this is a game-changer.

I couldn't stop
talking about it.

And I remember, I flew out
to Vancouver with Kid Kut.

Because it was so much,
my actual luggage,

my personal luggage of
clothing and stuff like that,

as well as these
two massive crates,

the airline charged
me like $160, $170

to bring those crates back,
and I was so pissed.

And as soon as I landed back
in Toronto, I bought a laptop,

and I never looked back.

I could do the exact
same job and bring ten times

the amount of records with me

with a frickin' laptop
and two controllers?

Like, hell yeah, I'm with it.

For me personally,
it's just something that I--

you had to do.

You had to keep up
with the times.

With everything
being on a USB,

you could bring your whole
collection on your laptop.

I don't see a full return
to vinyl ever happening.

But it wasn't like
digital files came out

and then instantaneously
killed the scene,

but definitely over time.

I mean, I can't remember
the last time I bought

a 12-inch, frankly, you know?

Because you have access
to it all the time,

anywhere, anytime now.

As a young kid,
as a teenager,

working in the record store,
dictating what people buy,

I mean, that was kind of
the attitude of it.

Once people had
the freedom of MP3s,

it didn't matter anymore.

They can tell you
what's hot now.

So, naturally, it slowed down.

Club DJs were the first to go.

Yeah, we noticed it.

We'd notice less things
being pressed on vinyl.

We'd notice certain
DJs dropping off

and not showing up anymore,
DJs that would come regularly.

When Thursday was 100
or 150 people going crazy,

it started to be 60 people.

went down a little bit.

When Scratch Live came,
a little bit went down.

When Serato came in,

a lot went down.

So, we had to find
other ways, you know?

The beat's
about to switch again

at Play De Record.

First vinyl, then DJ equipment,
now the funky store on Yonge

is opening
a learning centre in the back.

Honestly, it's really
hard to find an environment

where you can
sit down and learn.

You feel like it's impossible

to be able to do
something like this.

And that was crazy
because he had enough foresight

to be like, "Okay,
how do I evolve or transition?"

Or, "Okay, maybe the record
side of it is not bringing in

"as much income as it used to,

"so what can we do
to supplement that?"

By setting up
a DJ school in a store

that was infamous for
the DJ world,

you're now bringing
that potentially

to a new generation of people.

And again, you know, Eugene
had the foresight to be like,

"Let's help keep
this culture going."

But again, like,
everybody learns on...

Get free lessons on YouTube,

just like how
they get free music.

All that stuff, you know,
to try and weather the storm,

we knew what was going on.

We knew that, you know,
it was gonna be a challenge.

But at the end of the day,
we kind of also trusted

there's always
gonna be music lovers

and there's always
gonna be people

who love the medium,
you know, of vinyl.

I have
a love for the music,

but the music product.

To this day,
I'm still very meticulous about

how my album cover looks,
the liner notes,

all of the credit information.

DJ Jace,
I did a remix for him this year.

He met me in the food court
from my place of work,

and he handed me this record,

and I very excitedly
started screaming

and scared
a lot of the elderly people

that were in the food court.

I didn't actually think
that I would see my name

on a record for a long time,
and I almost cried,

which I really
had to control myself

because of the number
of people that were around.

Now that
it is a more limited thing,

it's a bit more special.

It's like the same way
people like real photographs

and things like that.

It's like a physical
piece of media.

But when Serato came 'round,
it was like,

"Yeah, okay, cool,
I still got it," you know?

Like, "I'm gonna beat the curve
and I'm gonna find ways

"to get the record."
But then, eventually,

people coming up to you
at the club being like,

"Can you play this?"
and I'm like,

"Ah, I'm still waiting
for it to get pressed."

Then they're like,

"What are you?
What's a press?"

You know what I mean?
It doesn't make sense.

a record is scratched,

you may not be able to play it.

You're in close quarters
and the audience is around you.

People could be, you know,
knocking the table.

People could be
knocking the needle,

and it could really
affect your performance.

was like that thing,

it was the gift and the curse
because it gave us everything

that we really wanted.

As DJs, me personally,
I hated carrying crates.

But at the same time,
it tore our hearts out

because we lost
that sense of community.

As an entrepreneur,
I got into, like,

bars and venues
and opened a club of my own,

and it made sense for me
to exit at that point.

It was emotional
for years and years,

and still is a little
emotional, you know?

Like, definitely a high point
of my, you know,

my life and my career.

You know, it was
a really fun place to work.

As someone who
essentially spent a lot of time,

years on Yonge Street,
a lot of the smaller businesses

that had hung on
for all those years

were now getting taken over
by the major corporations.

Well, when that property
tax went up $7,000, man,

I said, "We can't do this."

We're not even
making money, right?

And for that to happen,
we said, "Look."

So, we were deciding
if to continue or not, right?

Jason didn't want to continue,
so it was just me alone.

We had talked about
closing the shop, many times,

because it was hard.

You know,
it's not the same business

as it was obviously in the '90s.

And then Eugene said,
"Well, let's move it."

And I go, "Okay."
I was open to the idea.

There was a spot on Spadina
that Eugene showed me,

and I go,
"It's cool, I like it."

But I really did some
soul-searching myself

and I felt I needed to go
another direction in my life.

So once the Yonge Street
location closed down,

I decided to move on
and let Eugene take it over.

We used to do
scratchers together, like,

you know, the scene
and get people together.

We did the last one that was
in the actual Yonge Street,

the OG store.

Eugene let us do it.

A good send-off, I suppose,
for the OG store.

a couple other people who were

Play De Record loyalists,

we all took a picture
in front of the sign.

And I remember after we took
the picture, I was just like,

"This is part
of Toronto culture."

And that location
on Yonge Street

is just a part of history.

I felt it when he had to move.

You know the Sam's sign?

They got the Sam's sign they
have on top of that thing.

They should tear that down
and put the Play De Record sign

there, on top of there.

Because that's just
as, like, well-known as,

and probably even bigger than,
Sam the Record Man.

I'm super nostalgic

when we talk about
this stuff, man.

Like, going down memory lane
and thinking about the places

and the sounds
and the smells of, like,

being in this
movement at this time.

There's institutions that were
a part of the come-up

of this city, and they
don't exist anymore,

or they've changed,

and, you know,
I understand the evolution.

It means that what we see today
won't ever be what it was,

but it's nice to think about it.

Well... all good things
come to an end.

I got a wire
from Eugene that says,

"Oh, come check out
the new store."

I walked in there
and it was like

if nothing had ever changed.

I think it felt the same
because Eugene was there,

and so he is the store.

Home is where Eugene is.

I just keep hoping.

I'm not sure yet
what I'm gonna do yet.

But when you're so busy

and you're always
involved with music

and you're ordering every day,
and especially now where

mostly I'm alone,
so I'm doing everything.

I'm picking out records,
looking at records, digging,

sorting records, filling up
the bins, checking stock,

cashing people,
answering phone calls,

answering questions
about equipment,

which I don't really--
it's not my forte.

So even doing this
documentary has me thinking,

when I do all the pros and cons,
"Alright, this is what we did,"

and then even now
I'm thinking,

"This could be the end."

But I'm not sure yet.

Many times, I thought
maybe we might have to close,

because really,
it wasn't making any--

we don't make any money, really.

I'm just doing it for...

I don't even know
what I'm doing it for!

And for me, I never could
have done what I was doing

at the level I was doing it

without his contribution
to my life,

my career as a DJ,

and everything
that I was about back then.


I mean, I owe him so much.

You know,
I think one of the reasons

he's considered such a legend

and he's so revered in this city
is because of how sweet he is,

how generous he is,
and how, you know,

I don't think he's got
a mean bone in his body.

Without Play De Record,

oh, my career probably would
have went another path.

If you ask any DJ in Toronto
that bought records

back in the '90s, it's like,
if there was no Play De Record,

your DJ career might not
have been where it is today.

I'll call him
more for help

than he'll call
anybody for help.

Last winter,
you know, my family,

we were trying to
get things together.

I had to call him for some help.
He's like...


And we hadn't spoken
for about ten years.

But Eugene never changed.

As long as I treat
him with respect,

he'll treat me like family,
like a nephew.

The passion was clearly
there at Play De Record.

Passionate about the music,

who wanted to deliver it
to people to share it.

The understanding
that Toronto needed

to tell its story,

and Eugene and Play De Record
being a part of that

was something
that we all believed in.

I take my kids there.

They don't even know
what the fuck a record is,

but I just take 'em there.

"You don't understand right now,
son, but you need to stand here,

"like, right now."

The music, which is
the soundscape to our lives,

would not be possible without
a place to go buy those records

so people can hear them,

and that's a major
community hub.

That's what this is all about.

Like, without Play De Record,
you know,

would the culture be the same?

I don't know!
Maybe not.

I think it's...

It will still live on.

That passion that he had
for a record store,

you know, I have never
seen it anywhere else, right?

It's a family-owned business.

You know, there's not
that many of that around.

It's not a corporation.

He doesn't have shares.

You know, he just does
what he loves, you know?

So, I think that legacy
will continue on forever.

It's only when we
started doing this documentary,

I-- "Oh, maybe we did
have something to do with it."

I never saw it.

Like, you know,
when you have to step back...

then you see the picture, right?

♪ Turn it up,
turn it up. ♪

♪ Lock down, see?

♪ Lock down.

♪ Yo, yo.

♪ Yo, dem outlaws was born
to break laws and felonies ♪

♪ Deh got an empty gates in
da town, deh run it steadily ♪

♪ To all my money
makers cross town

dissemble funds and put
the pieces back together ♪

♪ Tryin' to drunk one another

♪ Case thrown out,
storm da courtroom ♪

♪ Uniforms
and three-piece suits ♪

♪ From bail putting up
houses and loot, he walkin' ♪

♪ I heard him talking
to his partner Hawkins

about his way of livin' ♪

♪ Faces of death

♪ He's runnin'
with this older kid

from around Mount Olive
and Silverstone ♪

♪ Deh stack mad gats in da
ceilin' at his baby mom's home ♪

♪ These narcs are watchin' us

♪ Undercovers on the rooftop

♪ Prepared and bullet proofed up

Jurassic blowin'
cruisers up fatal ♪

♪ They got us trapped
under this negative force ♪

♪ Some try to find a way out
but no doubt some make it out ♪

♪ Some learnin' from
their own mistakes ♪

♪ So take this negative
and turn it into positive ♪

♪ Whether you what to listen,
your prerogative. ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Kick off da top lock
and run up in dat ♪

♪ Get to the point

♪ Don't let him
get the upper hand ♪

♪ He gamblin' with pare man

♪ Told everybody,
drop their cards

and keep their
hands up on the table ♪

♪ This kid thought he was quick,
he drew first but shot last ♪

♪ Blood on my mask

♪ This other youth was
tryin' to run for da door ♪

♪ And picked up one
in his back and collapsed ♪

♪ Matter of fact my main concern
was for somebody grab dis ♪

♪ I used my sleeve to wipe
the money off the table

flood it all in one bag ♪

♪ Deh takin' rings to bracelets
and found coke inside da bin ♪

♪ But now deh takin too long,
deh inside and lavishin' ♪

♪ Come on, it's time
we make a move ♪

♪ So let's bounce
from this apartment ♪

♪ Fly down the staircase

♪ And now we tearin' down
the place wisely ♪

♪ Don't want a bait-up
situation therefore ♪

♪ So when we get to the west

we sharin' out mines,
what's yours is yours ♪

♪ Beast boys come out
at late night so don't speed ♪

♪ Ah yo, a cruiser cuts us off

to try ta make his way
to the crime scene. ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Now in closin' you done know
he should never brag for real ♪

♪ Come on you know that

♪ Remember who can hear
they must feel ♪

♪ But word up on the streets is
that you robbin' mad peeps ♪

♪ And now it's getting
bad to worse

because it's getting too far ♪

♪ From front page
to stolen cars ♪

♪ Narcs, deh know who you are

♪ We gotta meet him then we tie
him up and drive him real far ♪

♪ Then we separate his body,
chop it up for the cause ♪

♪ Dem outlaws, breakin'
in and out of gun stores ♪

♪ Only you can understand
spottin' shells on the floor ♪

♪ Ay yo, it's far
from a threat ♪

♪ Faces of death,
there's nothin' left ♪

♪ Yo, it's far from a threat

♪ Faces of death,
there's nothin' left. ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪

♪ Take a look through my eyes
and you'll see what I see ♪