Many will write about the 15th anniversary of the last great release date in Rap history. But few truly overstand why it earned that designation and why after it there may never be another great day on par. Since they can’t, I will. Not only do I remember the day well and what it signified but I was actually working at Tower Records on the video floor and I was involved in preparing the store for this epic event, working a register on the music floor during the midnight sale. The following is my account of what many who currently write about Hip-Hop never got to experience: September 29th, 1998, Rap music’s last great legitimate release date.
The store was preparing for the final Tuesday of September for about two weeks. Our Tower went as far as to set up a plan as to how they were going to set up the cash drawers beforehand & count them while the midnight sale was still going and they had the four fastest cashiers on the 2nd floor scheduled to work that shift. They’d established these guidelines after seeing how slammed the video floor was the night/day of August 31st/September 1st when the Titanic VHS & DVD went on sale. It took supervisors from all three floors to count & input all of the sales from that 36 hour stretch. They didn’t think it would be that bad but they did estimate a line down the block at midnight was a fair expectation based on how Rap albums had been outselling Country CD’s since late 1997. Good call.
Back then I’d acquired a gang of friends on the 2nd floor (Tower Records Boston’s music floor) due to the fact that on the weekends and covered for the Emerson, New England Conservatory Of Music and Berklee College Of Music students who either had schoolwork, practice/rehearsals or prior engagements and couldn’t work. While monitoring the releases and their release dates closely I knew enough to know September 29th, 1998 might’ve almost even more epic if not for one probable release being pulled off the board entirely. Paula Perry’s Tales From Fort Knox was in the Tower database with an initial release date of 9.15.98. Next week, it showed up in the computer with a release date of 9.29.98.
However, there was no unit order number next to it so I asked the Rap buyers Dave Piekoz & Mike Krupp what the deal was. They both told me that they expected for the album to either get pushed back again or shelved. For those that don’t remember, Paula Perry’s DJ Premier produced lead single “Extra, Extra” was one of the biggest songs of Summer 1998. There’s a jewel that no one else could’ve provided about September 29th, 1998…
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE