Chopped Herring Records is a UK-based boutique label that's been releasing and re-issuing limited press vinyl since 2000. They've previously issued releases from Action Bronson, The Cenobites (Kool Keith & Godfather Don,) The Juggaknots, Masta Ace, Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild, Prince Paul, Shaz Illyork, and Your Old Droog. Chopped Herring's start-up story was recently profiled within a 2016 Bandcamp Daily piece entitled Digging Up Rap History: The Story of Chopped Herring Records. Just yesterday, Chopped Herring unveiled their latest limited release: Shylow's Please Listen to My Demos (LP) 12-inch. Shylow AKA Jay Khan is one half of Canadian Hip-Hop duo, First Division and over the course of his storied career, has shared the stage with the likes of Cage, Yakballz, Ill Bill, Aceyalone, Boot Camp Click, Mr. Lif, Camu Tao, Red Clay, and Jedi Mind Tricks. Chopped Herring Records have now partnered with Shylow to effectively re-release his Second Side Productions-pressed Please Listen to My Demos, which was originally meant as a promotional tool to drum up publicity for his 2002 Moment of Clarity 12-inch. 100 cassette tapes were pressed up and passed out around 2000 and Shylow soon after, uploaded an MP3 version to YouTube, which quickly became an instant hit amongst crate-diggers and Hip-Hop heads alike. Please Listen to My Demos LP is currently available in a limited run of 350 copies—the first 120 on blue/silver mixed-color vinyl and 230 on standard black vinyl—from Chopped Herring Records. Along with Please Listen to My Demos, Chopped Herring uploaded a 16-minute mix entitled "Please Listen to My Demos LP Snippets," as well as "short, but sweet interview" with the man on the mic, Shylow, which can be read in full down below the break. Chopped Herring Records additionally warned their next release will be announced this Thursday, December 7th.
"Welcome back, fish headz!!! To start off the December/January cycle, we have this sick mid to late 90's project from Canadian emcee and producer Shylow AKA one half of the excellent First Division crew. Cats will know this from YouTube, no doubt, as only 100 cassettes were ever made in 2000; then, the project was leaked on the ['Tube] by our man. For this project on Herring, Shylow collected all the original 4/8-track tapes together, along with the original tape deck model and he re-recorded and re-mastered them for the crispiest sound possible. Included are 2 super-dope, previously unleaked demos from the same time period. This makes for a SOLID LP of 90's, Canadian [Indie] madness. Check this short, but sweet interview with the man like Shylow >>>
I. Where did you grow up, man?
No one specific place unfortunately. I moved around a lot as a kid. I guess, you could say Durham Region because those are the cities I've spent most of my life in other than the one year that I lived in Thunder Bay, which was back in 1992-93.
II. What are your earliest memories of the culture?
I'd have to say the day I bought my first cassette back in '84. it was a tape called Breakdance by K-Tel. One side had a full Rap instructional on how to break by Alex & The City Crew and the other side had joints like Herbie Hancock "Rockit" and "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels of Steel." Nobody I knew as a kid really listened to music like I did, so I was kinda on my own, when it came to hunting down information, until I'd say around 4th grade. That's when cats in school started hooking me up with mixtapes and what not. Up until that point, it was just whatever I heard on the radio, which wasn't much, unfortunately.
III. When did you first grab a mic?
If I'm not mistaken, it was at a Christmas assembly in 9th grade. I'd already been writing for a few years, but that was the first time I'd ever held a mic and rocked in front of a crowd. I [distinctly] remember forgetting my lyrics and launching into a freestyle to save my a**. Thankfully, everyone in the [gymnasium] was too busy going nuts that they didn't notice my f**k up, hahaha.
IV. When/where did you first record?
My homie James Stang discovered me at a battle in Ajax where I came in second place to Nigel of The Pocket Dwellers. He approached me and asked if I wanted to come [through] to his studio to record some joints. That was back in like, '95-96, I believe. I've never had copies of those joints all these years and just recently, he dug them up in his archives and sent them to me. [It] was so strange hearing them after 20 years. I was like, "whoa, is this really me?" Crazy!
V. How did the [Please Listen to My] Demos project come about?
Back when we were getting ready to drop the Moment of Clarity 12-inch, my dude Beatsmith and I were brain-storming of a way to get the word out and came up with the idea of putting together a collection of unreleased demos and mixtape skits to give out for free. We pressed up 100 cassettes (half were clear and the other, half translucent blue,) handed those out, and leaked the MP3 version on the 'net shortly after that. Can't tell you how many times I've been asked about that sh*t, over the years. It's a blessing that heads felt it like that.
VI. Who do you consider to be your greatest influence hip-hop wise?
DJ Premier, hands down, the greatest Hip-Hop producer of all time. I ain't even gonna say "in my opinion." I'mma just say FACTS, hahahah. Nah, but seriously, there hasn't been anyone in the game who's music has affected me like his. He's the epitome of real Hip-Hop. Everything about him and what he's accomplished has inspired me to no end. On top of all that, he's one of the coolest and most authentic individuals I've ever met. Can't say enough good things about the legend.
VII. Did you have any older cats around you growing up who put you on to production, rhyming and scratching?
Absolutely. I credit Tekniq, Nigel of The Pocket Dwellers and G Knight as my emcee mentors. All three of those dudes helped me take things to the next level in different areas. While Nigel and G both helped sharpen my freestyle skills, Tek taught me so much about the science of rhyming, patterns, syllable structure, etc. On the production tip, all credit goes to Tekniq for showing me the ropes. The time I spent in the studio with him bangin' out on the [Akai] S-950 was invaluable. As for scratching goes, I taught myself for the most part by watching videos on Rap City and just studying the music, but I definitely picked some things up from my DJ homies and I still do. A lot of the more difficult scratches that I've learned came from watching my homie BeatWyze. Dude's just as ill on the cuts as he is with the beats, trust me.
VIII. Any local acts you grew up listening to?
Oh man, of course. Maestro Fresh Wes, Kish, K-4ce, Dream Warriors, Michie Mee, B-Kool, Frank Morell, Split Personality, and Frankenstein, Saukrates. There's more, for sure, but those are the artists who's music comes to mind immediately."