The reason this record says “limited edition” in the bottom corner is because this is a bootleg version of the very classic and very perfect debut album from Black Star. The original is nearly impossible to come across on vinyl, and it has never been fully reissued. The label they were on—Rawkus—has basically become a back catalog management label, and unlike Digable Planets, no boutique label has either a) swooped in to reissue the album or b) come up with enough money to do so.
This is very similar to my vinyl copy of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange in that they are both albums I’d kill to have on vinyl, and the only form they’ve appeared in in that capacity is in bootleg copies my local shop somehow is able to keep an ample stock of (my man Ben got a copy of this a month ago. I scored one yesterday).
I guess I am wondering about the ethics of bootlegs right now, when a large swath of this album is devoted to the ethics of glorifying street life in hip-hop, and trying to maintain your conscious in a world—late ’90s mainstream rap culture—that demanded that you chase fame and glory regardless of impact on you or whoever.
I mean, Mos and Talib aren’t going to get paid—as they should—off this. Me buying this won’t give Common some money for still his best verse ever (“Respiration”). But I guess this isn’t any worse than downloading this illegally off Sharebeast or whatever.
Anyway: Silver lining. I found a vinyl copy of one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. Even if it’s a bootleg with a low-pixel cover and imperfect clear vinyl, celebrations like what I had in the store yesterday are what make collecting vinyl worth it.