Anyone entering Cratediggaz Records last Friday night looking to pick through the store’s nicely curated selection of jazz, funk and hip hop records would likely be struck by the sight of nearly two dozen musicians of all ages, seated in stools, on the floor and shoulder to shoulder at a long table in the middle of the store. Armed with an assortment of drum machines, samplers and laptops, each musician worked silently in headphones, tapping drum pads and nodding along to their own private beat.
It as the latest Philly edition of Flip A Beat Club, a monthly event that’s kind of like an open mic night for sample flippers. Producers show up to the venue, a folder of samples culled from old jazz and soul records to use as source material is passed around and each producer gets to work transforming the sample into a brand new piece of music. From there, each producer will play their new track, receiving encouragement and feedback from their peers onsite and around the world as the sessions are broadcast via zoom each month.
Founded in November 2021 at Twelves Wax record store in Sacramento by veteran hip hop producers dibia$e and Mon$rock, Flip A Beat Club takes the magic of beatmaking out of the studio and presents it as a public art. With active chapters in Los Angeles, Toronto and D.C., Flip A Beat Club, producers Quinton Johnson (aka Q aka qnorapname) and Dan Brightcliffe (aka Philith Spector) created the Philly chapter back in August of 2022. While living in California, Q attended the early Flip A Beat Club events, and he recalls thinking “‘This is dope, this is where it’s at.’ I was out there going to the events for like a year and shortly after I came back to Philly, I tapped in with Bob (owner of Cratediggaz) and the rest is history.”
From the old Beat Society events at the Five Spot in the early 2000s to early 2010s events like Real Time and the Blasphemous Jazz: Bitches Brew Sessions at Little Bar (a few blocks away from where Cratediggaz is now), Philadelphia has a long, if not underappreciated history of hosting live beat events. Given this firm historical foundation and the number of producers hungry to gather and share their sound, it’s no surprise that Flip A Beat Club Philly’s attendance continues to grow monthly. When asked about the future of Flip A Beat Club Philly, Brightcliffe and Johnson express their desire to do more live events, while creating more opportunities for producers to connect.
“We’re just trying to build on what they started in Sacramento and it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Johnson. “It’s just dope to have a community”