Hip hop, and you don't stop: this Carhartt WIP radio show brings you Chopped Herring Records, founded in 2001 in Manchester by collector, rare vinyl eBay merchant, and DJ Bob Lipitch aka Pro Celebrity Golf aka Chubby Grooves. Since the beginning his label releases limited edition hip hop vinyl - never released before recordings from back in the day and new music from today's artists - always dope and fresh. The Three Sinister Syllables LP by the artists Pro Celebrity Golf and Jay Glaze from 2004 is probably the record, that put the UK label on the global hip hop map. Others artists from their big roster include old and current stars like Action Bronson, Masta Ace or Stetsasonic, as well as new names like Epidemic from South Florida, Timeless Truth from NYC or US duo OG Aborigines amongst many others. Many of them are included in our Carhartt WIP Chopped Herring Records radio show that was mixed by Mr Sonny James & Matthew Law of the Illvibe Collective out of Philadelphia. As usual we spoke to the man behind the label. Below all words that Bob Lipitch aka Pro Celebrity Golf aka Chubby Grooves dropped on our questions.
Hi Bob, can you introduce your work as a DJ, producer and your label Chopped Herring a bit to our readers?
Bob Lipitch: Sure can! I own and run Chopped Herring Records, a small, totally independent hip hop label focusing on small runs of vinyl and very recently cd's [just as they have "offishally" been deemed obsolete].
Do you see yourself as a DJ, producer, label manager or just passionate music lover?
Bob Lipitch: All of the above. Not a huge fan of music, but I get by...
What was your musical intake when you were younger?
Bob Lipitch: Non-stop music from a fairly early age. Always copping wax from the abundance of 2nd hand vinyl spots in London - Record & Tape Exchange record store crawls were what weekends were all about in the 80's....
What was the impetus behind the start-up of Chopped Herring in 2001?
Bob Lipitch: I was a DJ and representing Fat City Recs in Manchester for many years, but was looking to express MY feelings about the music and the culture. I setup Herring to do it my way...
If you could describe the Chopped Herring sound in one sentence, what would you say?
Bob Lipitch: Independent, customer-focused, vinyl-based diggers label.
Do you think people get the idea behind Chopped Herring Records? Are the fans/buyers either into the reissue/ never before released music from way back or into the new stuff like Action Bronson as well?
Bob Lipitch: The heads cop everything - old and new. The running theme is dopeness - whether it be an unheard demo from 1990 or a new young artist out of NYC - if it's classic, it's classic...
Would you consider Chopped Herring as a re-release label? Or is it just about fresh music no matter the year?
Bob Lipitch: I very rarely re-release/re-repress something - in fact I'm trying to think if any of the releases are straight re-releases. I always will try to include unreleased music - straight reissues are kind of boring and the only real reason to touch any old record is to add to it, whether sound quality-wise or by displaying more of the artist's work.
What about unearthing lost music - hip hop and other genres? Will there be an end to it and everything's revealed with no more holy grails to look for?
Bob Lipitch:Well I do mess with traditional "Grails" aka records that are stupid hard to find and of course they will run out - but finding great unreleased music, I believe, will continue for some time. I'm hearing new old stuff all the time....
Is there a typical process in releasing old music after all those years or does the music finds you nowadays? Which part do you like most in releasing music?
Bob Lipitch: Both - I search for specific projects or artists and they also come to me. Sometimes artists I'm in the process of looking for hit me up. I most like the surprise of the drop - it's kind of like spinning - you drop a dope tune out of nowhere and the crowd loves it - that's why I almost always never announce a release until pre-orders go live.
What about the quantity of copies of your releases? They are all strictly limited, often gone within minutes. Never thought of increasing them, or is it just some kind of releasing, you stick to since the beginning? (Maybe as a bow for those early customers who preordered and are loyal followers?)
Bob Lipitch: While vinyl has increased in demand in the last decade the market for "real hip hop" is kind of limited itself. But for me, it has always been about creating in-demand records. That demand gives the music and the record a kind of aura - something that propels it forward. I can create this by never fully satisfying demand. The worst thing for an artist [I think] is to have their art end up in a bargain bin due to over production - that doesn't tend to happen with Herring.
What process do you follow for getting new artists?
Bob Lipitch: I keep my ears open and try to listen to as many demos as possible.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on Chopped Herring?
Bob Lipitch: Yes but there are only about five cats on it - will be striking two of them off before the end of this year...
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline currently?
Bob Lipitch: It's ALL exciting - I can't work on stuff unless I'm buzzing about it - but as every release is top secret until it drops, I can't divulge any further info...it's basically MORE OF THE SAME ILL SHIT...
What about the Fly Fishing mix series - bringing back the art of hip hop mixes in its finest form, does it continue?
Bob Lipitch: Yup - #4 is in the works - but will take longer cause it involves a different twist on the mix... more soon.
What about the digital format? In my opinion hip hop vinyl is more and more left out. Album formats just in special colour-ways and fancy add ons. No more 12 singles not even of major artists.
Bob Lipitch: The industry has and is changing for the better. The Internet has meant the rise of small independents and because of that more individual visions are being heard and appreciated - the majors have been drastically affected - no complaints here!!
Which of your own tracks/productions are you most proud of and why?
Bob Lipitch:Prince Paul's Horror City demos are an important one for me - he is #1 in my eyes. Also, several of the releases that include Kool Keith - another monster of hip hop.
What do you want to accomplish with the music you release?
Bob Lipitch: My aims are very modest - to continue what I'm doing, for as long as I can do it...for as long as hip hop heads want to hear that dope [f]ish.
What advice would you give to producers, DJs, label makers who are just starting out?
Bob Lipitch: Keep at it and don't release TOO MUCH work....
How do you think your generation is going to leave its mark on hip hop?
Bob Lipitch: We have laid down the foundations: the grammar and the language of the art form - it is now down to the new generation to express themselves...
In your opinion, when it comes to hip hop these days, who's at the top of their game?
Bob Lipitch: Kool Keith!
Do you take notice of the "mainstream" hip hop or are you just interested after the unsung heroes?
Bob Lipitch: I have no interest in any mainstream music culture, to be very honest - mainstream hip hop has enough fans...
Please recommend three artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Jay Glaze - a cut n paste artist from Manchester who co-wrote the 2004 cut n paste mix "Three Sinister Syllables" with me. He just released the incredible three hour collage Operation Clam Dust.
MC Gels is a 17year old MC from the Bronx - we just recently dropped his debut project Wandering Souls on vinyl.
What are five words that would describe your personal fashion style?
Bob Lipitch: Carhartt, Carhartt, Carhartt, Carhartt and more Carhartt - for reels tho!!
Do you think that Manchester has had a strong influence on your work, both as a musician and label maker?
Bob Lipitch: Absolutely - Manchester is one of the great music cities of the world. I only lived there for 14 years but the people, the vibe, the energy of that city has been hugely influential...
How important was Fat City where you worked for several years to you and your future endeavours
Bob Lipitch: Fat City was my first, direct introduction to a music scene. The focal point was the record shop, where I worked for about 6/7 years. It was really useful to see how music could be supplied in numerous ways through one organisation - the music itself [via the Grand Central & Fat City Recordings label], the sales [through the store] and the club nights.
Finally: can you tell us some secrets about Manchester that you can’t find in usual travel guides?
Bob Lipitch: The secrets are best left uncovered, believe me....