I got into rap music completely by accident. But the weirdest thing about it is, the experience ended up being pretty good to me.
You see, back in the eighties, in one of those weird turns of fate, I ended up managing a record store in Tacoma, Washington called Penny Lane Records. Penny Lane actually proved to be a bit of a goldmine too — located right next to two military bases (McChord AFB and Ft. Lewis). The thing about this was that every other Friday when the G.I.s got paid, Penny Lane was a sea of green (as in uniforms and money).
Man, did these guys like to spend their money on the jams.
As for me, as a twenty-something, long-haired white guy reared on my own version of the "jams" (mostly by seventies rock bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep), I found myself having to adapt rather quickly to the then new world of funkateers like Cameo and Parliament-Funkadelic. Suddenly, I found myself catering to the needs of a lot of young black guys transplanted to Tacoma from towns like New York, Philly, and D.C.
Okay, fine. So be it.
Being the young, hungry guy dying to make it in the music biz I was at the time, I was all too ready to meet the challenge, too. In yet another one of those odd twists of fate, it just so happens that right at about the same time the whole rap thing was just beginning to explode. And at the time — as hard as this may be to believe now — there was virtually nowhere in the Northwest to buy 12" singles by the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, and Trouble Funk.
So, being the enterprising and hungry sort of guy I was back then, I did a quick scan of the ads in Billboard Magazine, and discovered sources to import these records. Before long, Penny Lane Records became a destination point for rap music in the Northwest. But this was only the beginning...