Our Crate Minds series showcases some of the best Sellers on Discogs. You’ll meet the people behind the crates (virtual and otherwise), get some insights into the life of a record seller, and learn tips on selling records from the best in the biz. In this edition, we chat with Jean Yaghlekdjian of Dee Nasty’s hip-hop label, Furious-Records, and French record store Vinyl Discount.
Discogs: What are your first musical memories and what records were playing at home when you were growing up?
Jean Yaghlekdjian: Like most people, I started listening to records from my parent’s collection, so artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies, and The Kinks. Basically, lots of British bands from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Where I lived in my early years, it was quite difficult to get to record stores, so the discovery of modern music — genres like hip-hop, funk, disco, and even pop — somewhat passed me by a little in my youth. But, by the end of the ’90s, having moved closer to Paris, I soon got hooked on records. I wasn’t bothered about the genre; I just lapped it all up and began collecting as many as I could.
D: So then how did the selling of records start?
JY: In the early 2000s, I worked in a hip-hop record shop in Paris called T-Maxx Records on rue Saint-Denis. My good friend Youssef was the owner of the shop. During my time there, many big-name rappers would come by the shop to freestyle. This experience only furthered my addiction to records and music. Also, while working in the shop, I was out looking for clubs and radio stations that were giving away records that they didn’t use anymore. Once I’d found them, I’d take my father’s old car and bring them back to the house. As many as I could possibly fit in. I’d also go and visit other record shops around other cities to find new releases … It was a very active period for me.
A few years later, my wife encouraged me to open my own record shop. It was an easy choice for me to make and it was also easy for me to source records with the contacts I’d already established. Most styles of music were welcome in the shop, except perhaps classical and opera. With my wife being from London, I found good contacts and UK wholesalers too.
As I mentioned before, we’d inherit unwanted records from radio stations, clubs, or even other shops, only smallish numbers, between 500 to 2,000 records at a time. However, by the end, we had full trucks of records coming from France, the U.S., Germany, and the UK. It soon became apparent that we needed a bigger space to house all the records. I had no choice but to rent a storage spot. It was quite a challenge moving all the records, but in the end, it was by far the best solution.
D: Could you tell me the history of the Furious-Records label?
JY: Well it’s mainly down to France’s godfather of Hip Hop, Dee Nasty. He, like me, is also a vinyl addict so we bonded on that front. Dee Nasty was arguably responsible for creating France’s very first hip-hop record, and around the time of its release in 1984, his famous free Jam Parties, “Terrain Vague de la Chappelle,” were in full swing. It was here that all the B-Boys and crews were hanging out and coming together. Hip-hop acts like NTM, Assassin, and MC Solaar were all born out of these times.
Dee Nasty and I had wanted to launch something together for a while, and a label seemed a great place to start. Our first release [on Furious-Records] was by Real Fake MC, an MC from New Jersey. We wanted to create something special to mark the birth of the label … so we pressed only 300 copies and each one was signed by Dee Nasty himself. For a brand-new label selling out all 300 copies was a big pretty big deal for us.
Last year, we put out our second release. It was based on ’80s edits of some Dee Nasty tracks. The packaging was a great project for our in-house artist Jow-L. Again, we wanted something unique to make this release special, too. So we decided that every copy would be personalized with a limited-edition numbered sticker with the name of the buyer. This sticker contains all the bonus bits: an insert, a promo CD, magnetic stickers … This release also sold out in a short timeframe, so again, we’re very happy. We have to of course thank all the record shops who helped us push this release out to the world.
For [Record Store Day 2020] … we decided to repress [Dee Nasty’s] first album, Paname City Rappin’. Original pressings of this go for top-dollar on Discogs. We decided to press 500 copies allocating 300 of them exclusively to French stores.
We also plan on making a box set around this release with loads more really cool stuff — things like a replica business card from Dee Nasty circa 1985 and a booklet telling the story of this album. Once again, we’ll use a promo CD, but this time with extra goodies like branded slipmats, photos, stickers, and a poster. This box set will be something really special; we’re creating QR codes that will unlock audio of Dee Nasty telling various stories from around this time. We’re hyped. It will be a real collector’s package.
D: What else does the label have in store?
JY: Well, we’re currently working on our next release, which will feature T La Rock. We’re hoping to get it out by the end of the year. We also have an album in memory of Lionel D, who we sadly lost earlier this year. He was a crucial part of the French hip-hop movement, so we’ll be sure to create something special to honor his memory.
D: Any final thoughts?
JY: Well, nothing really. I feel happy that I chose this “job” and this life chose me. I get to meet so many amazing customers, people who love records as much as me, and many of these people feel more like friends than customers. I hope to give people the best service I can. And I’m eternally thankful for all the nice messages and feedback I receive, be it selling or releasing records. Without them, it would be impossible.
Images courtesy of Jean Yaghlekdjian.