"I'VE ALSO GOT RECORDS AT WORK"
In July, on a digging and cooling trip to Paris, France, I had a rendezvous with Guillaume; better known as GHH1 to the VA-Boards and Discogs spectators. At Châtelet Les Halles we met by Footlocker and from there on started to hang out for a couple of days. He showed me all the spots for records, clothing and last but not least a cheap place to get a Panini chicken and a Coke. Going to his crib, he showed and proved to be one of France greatest Hip Hop collectors to this date.
VA: So Guillaume, could you introduce yourself?
Yes, I’m 33 years old, I live in the suburbs of Paris and been listening to Hip Hop music for 20 years. I really started getting into Hip Hop since 1990. I collect late 80’s and early 90’s Hip Hop.
VA: And what does GHH1 stand for?
GHH1 means nothing to be honest, I made it up and they used to be my initials for video games in my younger days.
VA: So by spending two days here, I've learned you've got a shit load of records and you like Belgium for its cheap beer. But how did you get to deal with Hip Hop in general?
I think the first album I heard was “Licensed to Ill” by the Beastie Boys. I had some friends who had it on tape, but at the time I wasn't really into it. After that I discovered Public Enemy, LL, Run DMC. Back then it was tough to really discover Hip Hop where I lived. I didn’t live far from Paris when I was young, but yeah…
I actually really started discovering it with magazines like “The Rock Press”, they had interviews with MC’s and they also reviewed their music. Then in the 90’s there was a shift of course, I started to listen to every Hip Hop radio show there was and recorded those!
VA: Which shows were they?
The most famous show was a show by DJ Dee Nasty. The show was “Deenastyle”. He’s the most important DJ in France; he started it in the early 80’s. He actually dropped the first French Hip Hop album in ’84, “Paname City Rappin’ ”.
VA: But when did it really start to bug out in Paris? I remember TV Channel M6 used to play a lot of Hip Hop video’s in the 90’s.
To me it really blew up when Public Enemy came with “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”. From there on it went fast, a lot of people started rapping. Dee Nasty used to invite a lot of rappers to his show, you had all of them; MC Solaar, NTM. That was back then…
VA: So that’s how you got to know the French Hip Hop scene, but what about all that was going on in the States?
I discovered all that through the radio shows too, they played all sort of stuff; French, US, UK rap. Then in the early ’90’s we discovered the Source Magazine, which was a turning point. That’s when we really started to buy records; I didn’t have a lot of cash so we only bought LP’s, because they were relatively cheaper; more tracks for less money. At that time there already was a lot of second hand stuff in Paris, they had some great records. That’s where I really started buying all the 80’s and 90’s albums.
But yeah…so radio shows and The Source gave me insight to what was happening. The early 90’s were sick, a lot of good records back then.
VA: Did the radio shows promote that? Buying records, or did you feel like you had to have those LP’s?
Yeah definitely, but of course I felt like I needed them too. Me and a friend each of us we used to buy different albums so we could listen to more different records. It wasn’t like we wanted to be DJ’s, I can’t say it was a collection thing either, I guess it was just buying records, discovering and listening to Hip Hop.
It all changed with the internet for me, by then I started working too so I had much more money to spend, so from there on I decided to buy only vinyl. I had a lot of tapes and CD’s too but I sold all of them and bought that on vinyl as well.
VA: And what was the very first record you bought?
That would have been either Goldorak or a Hulk 7”! Haha, for Hip Hop I think Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation…
VA: But like, listening to you I can conclude that there was a lot of in feed in Paris for Hip Hop at the time. Then as I look at the records you have got, it looks like either nobody was buying respected Hip Hop records or people just don’t know which records are worth buying…
We had a lot of records since the 80’s in Paris, but it’s like nobody really collected the records, so people didn’t care, especially on obscure stuff. A lot of people who buy records, they just like the music, they don’t really collect certain pressings or issues.
VA: Maybe because the French Hip Hop scene was so big, people didn’t really care about the US stuff. Of course back then there was a language barrier right?
It wasn’t that big, it’s not like they had major sales or anything. There was a language barrier too indeed. To me French rap is different, I stopped buying that around ’94. Because I’m from Paris and know what it’s like, to me it wasn’t as ‘real’ as US-rap. These guys were talking as if they came straight out of the Bronx living the tough life, not too convincing I think.
VA: OK. If you would have to pick one record out of your collection, which one would be your favourite one?
Showbiz & AG – Soul Clap EP on Showbiz Records, I’d have to say there’s more. I love the “Return Of The Funkyman…” LP. You know, this is stuff I discovered on the radio back then, I listened to those hundreds of times. They have a sentimental value, same with the Public Enemy LP, I heard that so many times man…
VA: And those records have been your best buy too; concerning price and quality?
Yeah Show&A I found for 25 euro’s on Showbiz records here, I prefer the Payday version actually…it was nice to get the Freestyle Professors EP in a trade. A couple of years back a record store here bought a lot of records from Beat Street, that’s how I got so much crazy stuff.
I also paid a lot for some records! Around 200 euro’s for the “Ain’t No Half Steppin’ (Remix)”.
I think for both “Heartbeat Brothers” 12” on Elite too. I always wanted those. A friend of mine had them. I wanted to trade but he didn’t. So I had to buy it.
VA: You have a whole collection of foreign old Hip Hop, not many people collect that. Why did you decide to look for stuff from Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Japan…etc.?
I just buy what I like, wherever I go I take what I estimate is good music for a reasonable price you know. I’m not always searching for new references like many people do; like: what you got? OK, I’ll get that too…No, I try to buy what I like.
I do have to admit that when the internet started it changed a bit, I went to buy more rare stuff. Before, we didn’t care too much about the rarity of a record, maybe we didn’t even know it. But with e-Bay and all the forums, I saw what was hard to find and started to buy more independent releases in shops. Like I said before I didn’t really care about the prices, I sold rare stuff for cheap, but that’s what it was like in Paris, in London it was different, sellers there knew what was rare and expensive before the internet-era.
VA: How do you feel about all the limited projects which are being put out now like DWG, OLU and VA?
Some are nice but nowadays there’s getting too much of these releases. The prices are so high, that’s a hurdle for me. I prefer buying some vintage stuff.
VA: You can wait until it's vintage and then buy it…
Haha, yeah that’s what I’ll probably do…
I mean it’s good but maybe in the near future there could me more important pressings, to me there’s no need to limit these to people who are just on these boards.
VA: What’s your favourite Dutch Hip Hop Record?
Ah, I don’t know too much about all the Dutch Hip Hop Records, I guess I would say the “Mind Over Matter” LP by the “Dope Posse”.
VA: Can you explain why you even dig for Hip Hop vinyl?
I don’t know man, tough question. I’d say it’s a passion, an addiction. I’ve bought records in so many places; Turkey, Belgium, UK, Amsterdam, etcetera. I just love it when I find a few great records, that’s why I love London. At the “Music-Video Exchange” you can almost find anything; all eras, all styles. But yeah I dig just to find out if there’s something I’ve never heard before. Most of the time it’s the same old shit however, nowadays to me internet is the best way to get those records I love even though they can be expensive.
VA: What’s your estimate on the amount of records you have?
I don’t know the exact number but I think about 6.000 Hip Hop records. I’ve got other genres as well, I need to sell some records. I’ve also got records at work.
VA: So you can take your records to work and listen to them? What kind of job is that?
Haha, yeah I got a turntable at work. It’s a secret job. But soon I’ll probably change, with more people around. So no more loud music I guess.
But yeah I think I now buy around 15-20 records a month.
VA: What do you think about Vinyl Addicts?
For those I know VA-guys are good people, Smoov sold me records for cheap, I like that. As far as the website, to be honest I don’t check out the website much, mostly the boards.
But me I never had a radio show or something, I’d like to have one. Just to play what you want to play yes. However, I work nightshifts, changing every week so that’s kind of hard to combine. I would love to do it; I can imagine why you guys have the site. There are not too many interesting shows or anything anymore on the radio; Rap music is dead to me. It’s so boring, the energy is gone, always the same beats, I guess it just doesn’t give me the same feeling as it used to.
I know a lot of guys who even stopped buying a few years ago. That was when there always was the backpacker indy records. The major labels were over in 1995 already, then there was a bit of indy stuff and after that it was dead.