• I finished the puzzle

I dedicated a sizable chunk of my most recent In Rotation entry to a playable Biz Markie postcard—it’s got grooves on it so you can slap it on a record player, drop the needle, and enjoy Biz’s “Just a Friend.” Boston label Get On Down released the postcard along with a picture-disc reissue of 1989’s The Biz Never Sleeps, and I got so wrapped up in the entire package I went out and snapped up a copy of it as soon as I could. That was nearly three months ago, and I’m still so entranced by the aesthetic of that postcard I have yet to actually listen to it; part of the reason is because I’m waiting for the right moment, but I also fear ruining the thing I cherish by playing it.

I’m often quite taken by the very concepts the people behind Get On Down put into their physical releases, and at times that awe translates into a paralysis that prevents me from experiencing the actual music in the packages. Last month I spent a good chunk of time marveling the lavish physical design of the label’s reissue of Nas’s classic 1994 album, Illmatic. The CD-version comes in a shiny cherrywood outer shell, which after years of being bombarded with ads for Kay Jewelers one might assume contains a 24-karat diamond necklace. It’s an impressive design that reflects Illmatic‘s place in the rap canon as an Important-with-a-capital-I album, but its lavishness has kept me from touching it too much.