If you attended the CHIRP Record Fair this past weekend there’s a chance you came across some of the recent rap and R&B bootleg records I wrote a B Side cover story about a handful of months ago—these are unofficial versions of free mixtapes and albums that either haven’t come out on vinyl or are out of print. I bought my first of these hip-hop bootlegs from local record distributor Groove Distribution at last year’s CHIRP Record Fair (a $20 copy of Frank Ocean’s breakthrough mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra), so I fully expected to find more of them at Groove’s table at this year’s fair.
And I found a small bounty of unlicensed hip-hop and R&B vinyl. I saw some I’m familiar with, including Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra and Geto Boys’ We Can’t Be Stopped with the hilariously bad Photoshop cover art—whoever made it didn’t take too much care when plopping a large, gory eyeball on top of Bushwick Bill’s eye patch. I also noticed newer LPs I’ve either started finding in local record stores (Drake’s Nothing Was the Same) or recently became available through online ordering pages (Beastie Boys’ 1986 debut, Licensed to Ill). And I found one LP I never thought I’d see in a physical format: Yasiin Gaye: The Departure, a full-length mashup of soul singer Marvin Gaye and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) by Nashville producer Amerigo Gazaway. Yasiin Gaye is a fairly amusing concept, but its unlicensed vinyl version isn’t worth the $20 it cost (even I have my limits).
I failed to find one bootleg record I’d been looking for—a double-LP version of Chance the Rapper‘s Acid Rap. The local MC is popular enough that some enterprising bootlegger would want to sell an unlicensed version of his free 2013 sophomore mixtape, which actually happened last summer when a “label” called MTC released a CD version of Acid Rap that sold 1,000 copies and landed on two different Billboard charts. Now Acid Rap is getting the bootleg vinyl treatment, and I recently found ordering pages for the wax version of the mixtape on a couple different sites, international record retailer Vinyl Digital and NYC music store Turntable Lab. When I found Turntable Lab’s Acid Rap listing the LP wasn’t available, so I signed up to get e-mailed whenever the store had a copy to sell. Sure enough yesterday afternoon I got an e-mail that Acid Rap was ready to order, but within 20 minutes the store’s supply had been tapped out.
Chance’s manager, Patrick Corcoran, caught wind of the vinyl bootleg after I tweeted a photo of the Turntable Lab e-mail yesterday, and he tells me Chance’s lawyers have since landed a cease and desist. “Their next action as far as how they are going to handle taking the product down or keeping it up will determine how we proceed,” Corcoran says. This isn’t the first time Corcoran has had to stop places from selling illegal copies of Acid Rap—when MTC released a CD version of the mixtape this summer a version of it also appeared for sale on iTunes. “It went back on iTunes and we got it down as soon as we saw it,” Corcoran says.
It’ll be more difficult to stamp out the vinyl versions of Acid Rap partially because the people making them are elusive and their products don’t have any identifying information that can be traced—there aren’t any bar codes on any of the new rap bootlegs I’ve found. When I called Turntable Lab to find out how the store received the Acid Rap vinyl, the folks there had no comment. The Acid Rap listing has since been removed from the site, but I imagine it won’t be long before the unlicensed vinyl begins appearing in retail stores around town.