Taking it back to the record store with ShrapKnel and friends at South Philly's Cratediggaz Records - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Spend a significant amount of time on any number of social media platforms, and you’ll be certain to run into at least one person who likes to loudly proclaim that hip-hop is dead. While the genre may have stumbled somewhat since it’s acceptance into mainstream culture, I can assure you that it is alive and well, and in many cases, has flourished in smaller community-led efforts. Labels like Griselda and Backwoodz Studioz have reclaimed the DIY aesthetic that birthed the genre to much acclaim.

One storied part of that DIY attitude is the record store show. I’ve always loved these types of shows because they break down real or imagined barriers and put the artist and the audience on equal footing. So, I found myself at Cratediggaz Records on 4th Street south of Bainbridge on Sunday night, October 29th. For the unfamiliar, Cratediggaz is quickly becoming the go-to spot for hip-hop heads with discerning taste, budding beat makers (Cratediggaz is home base for the Philly chapter of the Flipabeatclub), and curious onlookers who want to be in the know. Owner CD Bob has a knack for curating in-store shows featuring rappers and beatmakers.

ShrapKnel | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

ShrapKnel understands how important these community events can be and stopped by Cratediggaz for a rapid-fire series of stacked performances. The night kicked off with various local beatmakers and fabc members, including, q no rap name, Philth Spector, and Big Breakfast, before Wrecking Crew member and local legend Small Professor gave us a taste of Halloween with a Sith-inspired series of neck-snapping instrumentals.

A surprise performance from Philly MC/producer duo Zilla Rocca and andrew kicked things into high gear as they played a few songs from their collaborative effort Don’t Wait For Me To Leave. Chicago-based crooner and rapper Rich Jones laid out a set of chilled beats, smooth singing, and boom-bap raps. Though the night seemed to be over just as it started, ShrapKnel managed to cram in an astonishing amount of dense lyrics and head-bobbing beats into their brief set. Backwoodz artists (and Wrecking Crew members) PremRock and Curly Castro have been on an incredible upward trajectory for the last few years and show no signs of slowing down. Their energy is infectious, and their music thought-provoking.

Rich Jones | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Record store shows aren’t necessarily where one goes for large crowds and screaming fans. It’s a place to go to connect. Strangers pouring over shelves of indie releases and hyping the artists up are what it’s all about. It’s a community event, and the community came out. Speaking to a couple of folks on the way out the door, the common sentiment was, “That was awesome!” Cratediggaz Records is etching out a very important place in the Philly hip-hop community, and if you want to get involved, it’s a great place to start.

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