Rescued From The Fire: Cut Chemist on Acetates

An ongoing series in which we ask artists what record they’d risk life and limb to save from a burning inferno

Fresh off the back of his Sónar São Paulo set, we found out that the Jurassic 5 DJ and revered turntablist Cut Chemist may not be sentimental, but he’s got a soft spot for a metal plate.

“Chillin’ With Chuck Chillout” by Ultramagnetic MCs (Dick Charles Recordings 1987 Acetate)

My reasons for picking the acetate of “Chillin’ With Chuck Chillout” by Ultramagnetic MCs is not entirely because of the music. These days, we have files of almost every piece of music recorded. I say let the records burn. Take the acetates with you. Acetates are yesteryear’s version of the CDR or even the home tape cassette before that. Basically, they are one-off metal pressing test runs of songs that may not even exist in any other format. In some cases they were used for DJs to try out at clubs to see the response. In other cases they were given to record executives as demos. In this case, New York radio DJ Chuck Chillout cut this acetate of an Ultramagnetic song made just for his radio show. He could have just played it from a radio cart (radio stations’ version of an eight-track tape with air checks, IDs and shout outs, etc), but this was something he wanted to mix along in his live sets with other records, which meant it was really important to him. This acetate was cut in 1987. This was a very important year in rap music for me as it was making its transition from drum machines to samples. This song is a great example of that transition. It’s sloppy and naive in an era that had not forged many rules yet for what was acceptable in music production. Rap music hadn’t really figured itself out yet. This is often my favourite time period of any genre.

Chillin’ With Chuck Chillout

This acetate represents my favourite time period from my favourite city from my favourite group of that period, making a song for one of my favourite hip hop radio shows. It is a true artifact that helped shape my taste and ethic in hip hop music. Not to mention it belonged to Chuck Chillout himself and any cassette duplicate of his show that has this song on it means it was played directly off this very acetate. There is a bootleg that exists of this, but the recording was taken off of one of the radio show broadcasts, so it’s not the same. This is a true piece of hip hop history and must be preserved. As for the rest of my records, it’s a Disco Inferno.

By Cut Chemist on May 24, 2012

On a different note