Lord Finesse digs through his crates and shares 10 of his favorite gems
The D.I.T.C. producer is on a habitual quest for musical knowledge.
by David Ma
It’s a sunny, laid-back day in Brooklyn, the type of day Robert Hall relishes. Better known as Lord Finesse, he’s spent the better half of the afternoon combing the borough for records. As founding member of the D.I.T.C. Crew, his search for vinyl is routine and has remained so for decades.
Originally published as “Daily Operation” in Wax Poetics Issue 35, 2009.
D.I.T.C.—which stands for Diggin’ in the Crates—was at the pinnacle of poise in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Bronx-based collective brimmed with talent, boasting members Lord Finesse, Showbiz and A.G., Diamond D, Fat Joe, O.C., Buckwild, and the late Big L. Their creed was the construal of their name: to find records, of any sort, and create something substantive. “We got together in the mid-’80s,” explains Finesse. “We all had solo careers, but formed together because we all loved music, records especially. We all had records and would always go out lookin’ for ’em. It just made sense to combine our interests, talents, and our strengths.”
Nineteen years since his debut, The Funky Technician, I caught the esteemed rapper/producer as he came back from sun-soaked Brooklyn to drop off his latest stacks, before heading out to scour more bins around the city.
You haven’t been as prolific recently when it comes to rapping, but you still produce and DJ quite often. Are you more interested in production at this point in time?
Right now in my career, I’m more fascinated by the musical aspect of things. I just love music. There’s also no age limit to being a producer. There’s no marketing plan or promotional garbage for producers. Nothing has to be applied to you as a producer in terms of looks or image, ya know? If you make great music, people will notice. That’s what I’m after.
How often do you still look for records?
I try to go three days a week or more. If I don’t go out looking for records, I feel like I’m not doing my job. I feel like there’s always an obscure record out there, and I’m on a mission to find it. I’m always looking to get new musical knowledge.
When you get records now, is it simply for your collection, or is it viewed more as a production tool?
It can be ten different things. I look for records that I can loop or chop up. But I also get records that I just want to play, or records that I liked as a kid. I get obscure soul joints to use at parties, or [to use] as an intro when I walk onstage. Sometimes, I find obscure records for cheap and sell it to another store for store credit. I look for a variation of things.
Having been one of a few known rappers who can also successfully make beats, can you share the standouts in your collection that are immensely valuable to you and your career?
Now you got me excited! Hold on, hold on, let me go kneel down and look through my shelves and all that. I’ll call you right back.
The phone rings ten minutes later, and Finesse, in his signature smooth tone, rattles off the following records.
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