7 Rare Rap & Hip-Hop Vinyl Records Worth A Fortune

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Some of the rarest and most valuable vinyl records in existence today come from the realms of rap and hip-hop. But what makes a record rare in the first place?

In rap as in any other genre, a vinyl is typically rare because it is in short supply. This will often be due to limited pressings, or because the record possesses unique features. This can include obscure live performances, odd misprints, or difficult to obtain recordings.

This list covers all sorts of gems, from a rare record produced by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, to the Wu-Tang Clan’s legendary Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, of which only a single copy exists.

Let’s find out about some rare hip-hop vinyl records that are worth a fortune today.

7. Rammellzee & K-Rob – Beat Bop (1983)

Approximate value: $1,000

Only 500 vinyl 12-inch copies of ‘Beat Bop’ by Rammellzee & K-Rob were ever pressed, and it has become a real collector’s item amongst hip-hop vinyl enthusiasts. 

The original test pressing features artwork designed by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who according to K-Rob himself, composed the beat for this ten minute song.

The artwork for the record is typical of Basquiat’s graffiti-esque style which utilises a frantic mash of etched scrawling and text.

In a twist to his usual works which were often full of colour, the vinyl’s cover image is crafted in a black and white colourway. The artwork includes his signature crown along with a selection of crudely drawn bones, Roman numerals and an explosion motif – with the word “bang!” sitting inside in capital letters.

Copies have previously sold for up to $3,700. However, more recently the vinyl has been purchased for an average of $1,000. Consumers are warned to be wary of bootlegs sold as if they were originals.

Because first pressings of ‘Beat Bop’ with cover art by Basquiat are incredibly rare, the vinyl is considered to be one of the most valuable rap records ever produced.

As well as being an extremely rare rap record, it’s also a great track – in 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it on the list of their “100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.”

6. Nipsey Hussle – Mailbox Money (2014)

Approximate value: $1,000

Nipsey Hussle’s 15-song record Mailbox Money includes collaborations and performances from the likes of Dom Kennedy, K Camp, Rick Ross and Trae Tha Truth. There is also additional production from 1500 Or Nothin, DJ Mustard and Hit-Boy among others. 

The project was made available online to consumers for free and formed part of the artist’s ‘Proud 2 Pay movement’ in which buyers could choose to pay and show support if they wished.

Hype around Nipsey Hussle had already been established when in 2013 he decided to press 1,000 physical copies of his mixtape Crenshaw and sold them for $100 a piece. 

“It’s the price of revolution,” Hussle explained in one interview

All copies quickly sold out, with support from Jay-Z who himself bought 100 copies.

The following year, Nipsey Hussle set a price of $1,000 per copy of Mailbox Money, which sold 60 copies in 25 days. With such a small number pressed, it makes the vinyl incredibly rare.

5. Kool D.J.A.J – Ah, That’s The Joint (1982)

Approximate value: $1,500

Kool D.J.A.J was a relatively unknown producer to the masses, but well-respected in the realms of underground rap.

He was famed for his work as Busy Bee’s DJ and worked the city rap scene in the early days of hip-hop’s rise.

His only solo effort was the record Ah, That’s The Joint – first released as part of a limited press run in 1980 – on an ultra-rare White Diamond imprint.

The vinyl features only two tracks – ‘Ah, That’s The Joint’ parts one and two. The songs are noteworthy for their old school feel and heavy funk inspired bass line.

A copy of the vinyl has been sold for over $2,000, with most other copies fetching in the region of $1,500.

4. Mistafide – Equidity Funk (1980)

Approximate value: $1,500

The rap outfit Mistafide includes members Jay Rob, Shakin Bake and Freestyle. Their now classic record Equity Funk has a distinct 80s style with skillful production value.

Equidity Funk is an extremely rare work from the disco-rap era that passionate collectors have sought out consistently over many years.

The vinyl has become one of the most valuable hip-hop records around today, with purchase prices typically north of the $1,000 mark.

Some copies have previously sold for over $4,000, and it is thought that there are only a handful of original pressings still available in the market.

3. Mr. Magic – Mr. Magic’s Be-Bop Convention (1982)

Approximate value: $2,500

Mr Magic’s Be-Bop Convention is a vinyl compilation album containing two sides worth of material by New Orleans born rapper Mr Magic. 

Each side consists of five tracks including two songs a piece from Mr Magic & Pookey Blow, The Chillie 3 M’C’S, The L-O-D Crew, Willie Brown & Woodie, and Mr Magic.

It is thought that only a few original pressings from 1982 still remain in circulation. The highest price a copy sold for was $4,200 with two further pressings fetching around $2,500.

2. Akinyele – Break A Bitch Neck (1995)

Approximate value: $2,500

These 12-inch test pressings by Akinyele are some of the most valuable hip-hop vinyl records in the genre’s history.

A mere 17 test pressings of this particular record actually exist. Break A Bitch Neck features production from The Large Professor with rhymes by Kool G Rap and Akinyele.

The record’s four songs include the title track, an instrumental version on the A-side, and on Side B the songs ‘You Gotta Go Down’ along with ‘No Exit (Part II).’

There is also a bootleg with a different list of tracks, with one song recorded from a radio show performance.

The record is so obscure that it is often omitted in lists of Akinyele’s discography. Copies of this rare record have sold for as high as $5,000, with the lowest sale price of just over $2,000.

1. Wu Tang Clan – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin (2015)

Approximate value: $4,000,000

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is the seventh studio album by the seminal hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. The recording was crafted in secret over the course of six years. 

In 2014, a single two-CD copy was pressed to vinyl and then securely stored away in a vault at the Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. There was no option to download or stream it digitally.

The record was first purchased by Martin Shkreli for $2 million in 2015. However, the record was seized by the US government after Shkreli was found guilty of fraud, and was unable to pay his fines.

The work was auctioned in October 2021 and ultimately purchased by cryptocurrency collective PleasrDAO for a sum of $4 million, in the process becoming the most expensive piece of music ever sold.

Wu-Tang Clan stated that their choice to press only one copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was an expression of protest over the devaluation of music in the digital age.

The record was first released with a legal agreement that the contents of the record cannot be released commercially until 2103 – meaning that the work will barely be heard for close to a century!

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