Crate Digger Evolution

For those that don’t know, going from record shop to record shop hunting down the right tracks that will eventually find their way into your prized record collection is to many, known as crate digging!

Originally the phrase was coined back in the late 80s, early 90s and broadly associated with hip hop and the use of milk crates to store records in. Both for hip hop tracks to play at parties and old soul, funk and jazz which could be flipped (sampled) into a killer hip hop joint (track)! I myself fell into both categories and loved every single minute. Most Saturdays felt akin to a pilgrimage to London Town, searching for the latest and great track as well as the unique samples that nobody else had!

Things to look for

People’s ‘digging’ techniques varied greatly. For me, when digging for breaks and samples the first thing that had to get me interested was the artwork. Did it have that right feel, did the fonts indicate the right era. It was a feeling that led me to taking the record out of the ‘crate’ for closer inspection which consisted of a date search followed by musicians. If all was in order then I would have a quick check on condition before either adding to the ever increasing stack of biscuits (records) or ejecting back into the bin (the crate). Then when I had a nice pile together it was over to the listening station if one was available! For my digging partner this however was not an issue as he had his portable battery power Vestax turntable with him at all times. Many, many hours were spent; and happy ones at that!


With the amount of records I was buying it was inevitable that I was going to build relationships with record shop owners. The perks of these friendships ranged everywhere from a welcoming nod and being greeted by name to having first dibs on latest releases and old classics being put by and even access to the locked rooms where all the rare (expensive) records resided.

Fast forward twenty or so years and 50% of my diggin is now online and predominantly house music. The success of searching for your records online is based on a few things. No1 – and understanding partner, because hours even days of your time you will be stuck glued to your laptop with 30 second preview blasts bleeding out of the headphone whilst Corrie is on in the background. No2 – A good mp3 previewer and cart adder on the chosen website. No3 – a good recommendation tool as per Juno’s “customers also bought these” feature. For me, buying online is convenient and pretty good, but this has stripped a few of the key elements from the very satisfying process of yesteryear. Every record I purchased in the 90s has an experience attached to it and a story to tell. Having records handed to you by the postie isn’t quite the same. Still great though!

One of my favourite spots to dig these days is the amazing LoveVinyl in Hoxton. Always a warm welcome from Zaff and Dave Jarvis wgo offer a superb range across many genres old and new from old soul and funk classics to silky smooth nu disco records.

E2 8JD
TEL: 020 7729 8978

Tell us your digging stories below!