Nick Speed to release limited-edition turntables on hip-hop’s 50th anniversary

August is a busy month for the producer and DJ, with a Charivari afterparty and Ice Cube gig

Aug 8, 2023 at 2:41 pm
click to enlarge The Nix Electronix HH-50. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
The Nix Electronix HH-50.

Aug. 11, 1973 marks the first documented hip-hop party in the Bronx, New York, thrown by DJ Kool Herc. This is largely considered to be the birth of the genre.

On the 50th anniversary of this date in hip-hop history, Detroit DJ and producer Nick Speed will launch his own turntable brand with limited-edition record players.

The Nix Electronix HH-50 is a portable record player limited to 50 one-of-a-kind, hand-numbered, and autographed units. Each will represent a different year of hip-hop between 1973 and 2023.

“We’re celebrating the day that hip-hop turned the turntable into an instrument,” Speed tells Metro Times. “This genre has changed my life. I feel like I’m one of the first generations of babies that came out the womb hearing rap music. And I’m celebrating not only hip-hop but all genres of music, because hip-hop is all genres of music mixed in a gumbo pot. Snoop Dogg’s Doggy Style introduced me to Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly. Dr. Dre’s Chronic introduced me to George Clinton music. I was introduced to all of that through hip-hop.”

The Nix Electronix HH-50 sells for $125. Unlike some of the pricier record players made for audiophiles, Speed says this portable turntable was made for picnics at Belle Isle, hanging out on a rooftop, or wherever else you’d want to listen to music.

Speed sees the record players as “art pieces.” And yes, like many musicians and record purists, he believes music sounds better on vinyl because you can hear everything as the music gods intended.

“There used to be a lot more mystery to music,” he says about collecting records. “When you have digital files of music, you can’t see it, you can’t touch it. One of the things that I enjoy about vinyl records is that you can look at the cover, read the lyrics, and they have all these names that you’ve never seen before. It kind of allows you to put the puzzle together by just reading the information that’s on the record. I’ve been a record collector for a long time for that reason.”

click to enlarge Detroit's Nick Speed has worked with influential artists like Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, 50 Cent, Juan Atkins, Pusha T, Quavo, and Danny Brown, among others. - Jeremy Deputat/ Courtesy photo
Jeremy Deputat/ Courtesy photo
Detroit's Nick Speed has worked with influential artists like Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, 50 Cent, Juan Atkins, Pusha T, Quavo, and Danny Brown, among others.

Speed credits Detroit’s Jack White for helping to usher in a revival in interest in vinyl records. The slogan of White’s record label Third Man Records is “Your turntable’s not dead,” and White’s 2014 record Lazaretto sold 87,000 copies that year, at the time becoming the top-selling vinyl record since SoundScan began tracking sales.

When Speed released his first vinyl record Speed of Sound on Detroit-based label Underground Resistance in 2010, he says he wasn’t sure that people would actually buy it, but “Mad” Mike Banks persuaded him.

“I knew I liked records, but everything was on some digital stuff and I was surprised that it did incredibly well,” Speed says. “Mad Mike Banks was like, ‘Hey, look, let me show you. I’m telling you putting out records is gonna be cool, man. Watch.’ Then I released a record with Moodymann on his label and Mad Mike told me, ‘“Yo, I’m gonna put out your record, but Moodymann is gone make you a star.’ And my record actually became number one off Moody’s label.”

Speed has worked with influential artists like Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, 50 Cent, Juan Atkins, Pusha T, Quavo, and Danny Brown, among others.

This month is a busy one for Speed as he releases his record players on Friday, Aug. 11, and plays a Charivari afterparty at Spot Lite with De’Sean Jones and the Nick Speed Orchestra on Sunday, Aug. 13.

“We’re gonna have a live orchestra straight from Detroit with a couple special guest DJs. Nobody’s seen this show before,” he says. “I came up with Nick Speed Orchestra because I wanted to escape the boundaries of just being a hip-hop artist and do something where the music could be respected on a collegiate or symphonic level. I’ve always been a fan of the Super Fly soundtrack where it had these ill strings in the back, or even Kanye West where he got the string section on [The] College Dropout. And I’m like, ‘Wow, what if we did that live?’”

Speed will also be performing at Pontiac’s Roadkill Nights where Ice Cube is headlining on Aug. 12 — Speed’s birthday.

For more info on the Nix Electronix HH-50 turntables, see playgrounddetroit.com.

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