Vinyl collecting is all about spending hours sifting through milk crates, hoping to find that perfect record. Rare vinyl that sells for thousands is usually found in obscure genres like funk, R&B, and Brazilian. But occasionally, a rap record ascends to “Holy Grail” status in terms of its rarity and sticker price. If you come across any of the vinyl on this list and don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, consider yourself lucky. Maybe you should spend this weekend sifting through your dad’s old collection—you might be sitting on gold!
Done by the Forces of Nature (Instrumentals), Jungle Brothers
Average cost: $1,100
The Jungle Brothers’ second studio album, Done by the Forces of Nature, has appeared on a few “Best Rap Albums” lists, so it’s no surprise that this test pressing of its instrumentals is considered a rare find. Fans of the project can either keep praying for a re-press, or cough up a lung to own a copy now.
“Who Got the Flava?” / “I Get Open,” Dope and a Gun
Average cost: $550
Smell the Da.I.S.Y. (Da Inner Soul of Yancy), De La Soul x J Dilla
Average cost: $300
Unofficial copies of this album are floating around the Internet, or you can download De La Soul’s recent share of a free BitTorrent bundle with all the tracks. But, if you want the real deal, you’re going to have to pay for it. De La Soul and J Dilla’s instrumental project was pressed in a limited run of 100 copies, to give listeners the experience of receiving one of Dilla’s beat tapes. Ninety-five copies were dropped at record stores in six major U.S. cities, while the other five were sold at auction to benefit the J Dilla Foundation.
“Cause I’m Keefy Keef” / “Three’s Company,” Keefy Keef
Average cost: $460
Two years before the release of his debut album, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World, Keith Murray rapped under the moniker Keefy Keef and released this demo with Curt Cazal. Cazal, a.k.a. Curtis Small, is better known for his time in the Long Island rap group J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. Murray and Small are both credited as writers on the record’s label. Because of Keith Murray’s later success, the value of this record has skyrocketed. Original pressings have sold for as much as $1,350 online.
“Stitch by Stitch” / “Live Entertainer,” Ron B and the Step 2 Crew
Average cost: $560
Ron B and the Step 2 Crew have no credits listed before or after this project, which is a shame because “Stitch by Stitch” is a great track. The rare color sleeve for this single suggests that they knew they had something good, and the current value of the record confirms it.
Beat Bop, Rammellzee vs. K-Rob
Average cost: $800
Beat Bop is known for two things: an original limited release of 500 copies, and album artwork created by legendary New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Near-mint copies of the original pressing have sold online for as much as $1,500. There have been a few re-pressings in recent years that are worth a small fraction of that price, so if you’re in the market for a copy, make sure you do your homework first.
“Equidity Funk,” Mistafide
Average cost: $2,780
To the novice crate-digger, “Equidity Funk” looks like another generic funk record. But hardcore fans know that Mistafide’s single has reached Grail status. Maybe it’s the track’s sample of the S.W.A.T. theme song that makes it highly-coveted? Whatever it is, if you can find a copy for a good price, buy it.
“I’m Untouchable,” Unique
Average cost: $2,200
In the world of record collecting, sometimes a random fan gets lucky and hits the jackpot. Back in 2012, the only copy of Unique’s “I’m Untouchable” went to an anonymous buyer for an impressive $2,200 on Discogs. There is no way to see who bought it, but we hope it was worth every cent.