Hopefully some of you idiots remember the wonderful little hip-hop publication called “On The Go” magazine put together by Philly graf artist legend ESPO and the bol Ray Hayes. This mag was on some DIY, “real hip-hop” shit and was as funny as it was relevant. Legendary Philly DJ Cosmo Baker was a contributing writer for the magazine, penning articles that explored the art of diggin’ at a level that hadn’t previously been documented. Around the same time, another Philly bol Soulman was doing a similar thing at another solid hip-hop publication Rap Pages. Now, for better or worse, the Philly bols Cosmo Baker and Soulman were two of the first writers to really commit digging secrets and knowledge to print. I say “for better or for worse” because previously, the art of digging was strictly a tradition that was either passed on orally through mentoring (to this day, I don’t know any digger that isn’t greatly indebted to a mentor who “taught [him] all [he] knows”) or was an art that was learned through exposure and “paying dues.” Some digging purists might find that this documentation that folks like Cosmo and Soulman were conducting watered-down and even white-washed the art a bit. These purists might read this documentation as the incipient moment of the demise of diggin’ as first and foremost an oral tradition and that Cosmo and Soulman paved the way for sites like The Breaks/The Sample FAQ and Soulstrut— sites that have clearly helped change how the diggin’ game currently functions. And, let’s be honest, we might not want to admit it, but it’d be rather ridiculous to argue that the internet hasn’t drastically changed the diggin’ game (just ask David Axelrod). But, frankly, I don’t subscribe to this purist critical reading of the work that Cosmo and Soulman did. I think the work that they did was very valuable and each of them were forward thinking enough to realize that yes, perhaps writing about something like diggin’ might change the game a bit, but, got damn it, who says the game is meant to be static and stagnant anyway?
Cosmo was kind enough to post scans of most of his and his postdecessor’s (one Ben Velez) work in the “On The Go” column aptly titled “Diggin’ in the Crates” on his website. So click right here (or any picture below) to holler at some of his writings. And, when you’re done with that, go over to Soulman’s World of beats and then read his shit and learn yourself somefin’ you know nothing about.