The relationship between the guys that sell music CDs outside of convenience stores and the guys that actually own the stores; do police bother to take your stuff if you're selling CDs outside of a store. Several months ago, we were stopped outside of the Chevron on Main and 610 by a dude selling rap CDs. The convenience-store grind is probably one of our favorite aspects of the Houston rap scene; it's just quintessential rap hustle. You can download pretty much anything these days, but these homemade mixes are enjoyable in their organicness, so we usually try and scoop one up whenever the opportunity presents itself. The guy was calling himself Big Rip and he was pushing a fairly standard deal: Two CDs, one filled with Screwed versions of songs from some of the bigger-name local guys with a track or two of his own music squeezed in, and the other primarily his own material, for about $7. That day, we parried his solicitor jabs with the trusty "Sorry, sir, I've only got my card with me" line and went on about our business. Months passed and he was lost in the ether. Then, the Friday before Spring Break, he popped up again. We chatted him up for a bit. He was an enjoyable enough fellow to talk with - turned out, he had been locked up for a while, which explained his absence; also, he doesn't have a MySpace, a characteristic made even more charming when he referred it to once as "the MySpace" - so we got a CD and, lo and behold, it did not suck. It was a compilation tape between him and a local producer named Dell. The music was punctuated by a heavy drag, some ready-made choruses and a very clear Big H.A.W.K.-esque slant; it was straight early S.U.C. stuff. It warranted some attention. So we called Rip and asked him to take a few minutes out of his day a week later to discuss the dynamics of the Convenience Store Salesman's daily activities.Ask A Rapper: So you're at the store, you said? Are you out there selling CDs right now?
Big Rip: Yeah, I'm here right now.AAR: Ha. That's perfect. It seems like the Convenience Store CD Guys used to be just about everywhere. They look to have mostly moved on now. Have you noticed that it's harder to sell CDs like that nowadays?
BR: I have, I have. There's still a lot of people are out here doing the same thing, but a lot of guys are taking it to the road right now. A lot of guys feel like Houston has its own menu, so they take it to people that can't get to Houston. They're taking it to your Corpuses or your San Antonios, areas like that. They're taking it to places that can't get that type of [Houston rap] music.AAR: Do you think that, since the Internet has sort of changed up the way everything is done, there's gonna be a day when nobody bothers to stand outside of store and peddle CDs?
BR: Do I think there's gonna be a day when guys aren't selling CDs? I think so, I think so.AAR: Is it harder to sell them now then maybe it was five years ago or ten years ago or even last year?
BR: I don't think it's harder to sell them, I really don't think so. It's just there are less guys doing it so it looks that way. They're still out, they're just spread out more. And the police, they're out there too. But it's more they're watching for the guys selling movies. When they see people out there doing that, they automatically assume you're selling movies.AAR: So when that happens, say a police walks up to you, does he just take your shit no questions asked? How does that work?
BR: No, no. They'll come up and be like, "You can't be selling bootleg movies. That's illegal." But when they see that it's me and that it's my product that I'm selling, when it's an artist promoting his own stuff, they okay with that, some of them they respect that.AAR: With regards to the guys that are actually running the stores, how does that work? Is there a relationship there? Do you get to know those guys?
BR: I have a relationship with some of them, not all of them. The ones that you see me at, or the ones that I'm at regularly, I have a relationship with those ones. As long as you're not out there bothering their customers or disrespecting they're customers it's fine. I have some of these guys that have my music and they listen to it and they like it. Matter of fact, one of the guys, he put my songs on the Internet. It's different with each store.AAR: Do you have to give them money or anything? Sort of like rent or something?
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BR: No, no. It's all about respect with that.AAR: Hmmm. Okay, so how many of these CDs are you moving a day? What are the numbers there?
BR: [laughs] I get that all the time. Some days are better than others. One day you might sell 20, another you sell more, another you sell less. It goes like that, you just have to be out there. It's like, I'll say it like this: Michael Jordan didn't score 50 points every game.You can reach Big Rip via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll also find him at the aforementioned Chevron at 610 and Main. He'll be the big black guy parked four spots over from the Redbox that you'll be trying to not make eye contact with. Give him a minute of your time (and several of your dollars). He's an interesting fellow.