Review Series - Hit Vibes
Updated: Apr 28, 2021
Fridays mean one thing here at Celadon Plaza: Review Day. As stated in my introduction post, I'll be taking the time to review, in depth, sold out Vaporwave Physicals to provide you with the information you need to decide if it's worth the potential insane resale prices.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the vinyl repress of Saint Pepsi’s 'Hit Vibes,' a beloved album and highly sought after physical.
If you’re a Vaporwave fan, you’ve heard this album, and you know why it’s considered one of the best, so I’ll keep my thoughts on the music short. The crowning jewel of Pepsi’s catalogue, Hit Vibes was originally released in 2013 on the label KEATS//COLLECTIVE. Gaining instant popularity due to a newer and cleaner production style and funkier nature of the music, Hit Vibes became an instant classic. Songs like ‘Better,’ ‘Cherry Pepsi,’ and ‘Skylar Spence’ have an undeniable good feeling to them and regularly find themselves in Vaporwave and Future Funk mixes throughout YouTube to this day almost 10 years later. Saint Pepsi (now known as ‘Skylar Spence’) and his work served as an accessible stepping stone for many into the world of Vaporwave, myself included. After the inevitable introduction into the genre through that one song from Floral Shoppe (you know the one) many of the people I know grew to appreciate the genre through songs off of Hit Vibes. It was a new, upbeat, dance style of Vaporwave not really seen before, and its accessibility to wider audiences not accustomed to the nuanced tropes of early Vaporwave ensured its place in history as a classic. It’s tough to pick one favorite track off of this stellar album, but “Around” has always stuck with me over my years of listening.
Hit Vibes had a surprise release on the vinyl format back in 2015 via the label Carpark Records. Carpark sold a “promo” version of the album (presumably to avoid copyright issues) at an edition of 1000, 500 black and 500 red. The album was only $10, came in a black disco sleeve, and stayed in stock for a little while before finally selling out. As time went on, and the album grew in popularity amongst those in the Vaporwave scene and beyond, demand for a repress intensified. Actually, "intensified" might be too light of a word. Demand EXPLODED. Post after post piled up on Reddit and Facebook inquiring about potential represses and restocks, Skylar’s Twitter was swarmed with pleas for a reissue and all the while, resale prices of the vinyl soared into the hundreds, with red copies topping out at around $540 dollars.
It was time for a repress.
After a full year of cryptic hints and speculation, Skylar Spence would officially announce in August of 2020 the long awaited repress of Hit Vibes, once again via Carpark Records. There would be a restock of 300 black copies from the original 2015 run along with a week long open pre order for a new black pressing in order to give everyone who wanted a copy the chance to do so. This was a stellar choice by Carpark, both for themselves and the fans. Everyone who wanted one would get a copy and the label would sell around 3000 total copies of the classic. I’ll be reviewing one of these open pre order copies, although the differences are negligible.
It should be noted before I continue that complaints from various customers stacked up over the months following the pre order, as many copies arrived warped and with off centered holes and major surface noise issues. This however isn’t the case at all with my copy. Since I’ll be talking about my specific copy, it’s important to note that these issues may be present when buying secondhand, so beware! Always check with the buyer and get as much information as possible about their particular pressing before spending a huge amount of money on a copy.
The sound on my repress edition of Hit Vibes is nice and full. It has good bass and treble that isn’t too high or low and was evidently mastered well for the format. Surface noise is minimal, with a few pops here and there that were remedied by a quick wet cleaning. I enjoy throwing it on my turntable quite often and I’m very happy with the overall sound quality. I'm not sure if I am one of few lucky ones or if the majority of copies are plagued with problems, but from my point of view spinning my copy while writing this, everything is fine.
With that said, I still have 1 major gripe: the sleeve. Carpark had such a great opportunity to do a beautiful special edition pressing with a full color jacket featuring the original and iconic artwork of the album. It would have been wonderful to have an official sleeve of the Hit Vibes art to display on my shelf alongside the other Saint Pepsi albums that have been pressed. But alas, Carpark decided to once again release the album as a “promo” copy in a plain black disco sleeve. I understand this most likely has to do with copyright issues again, but I don’t see why they couldn’t have simply decided to house the albums in some sort of proper sleeve with the original artwork. As far as I know, the copyright issues had to do with Saint Pepsi’s name and the samples on the songs, not the art. They were risking it all by pressing 3000 copies anyways, why not just give it a proper sleeve as well? Skylar has since stated that he liked the choice of the disco sleeve to give it the feel of an old school radio promo copy that would be distributed for live play on the air. Whether or not this was the sole reason behind the choice is unknown, but it has led to fans making their own customs sleeves as a replacement. I decided it was worth investigating and ended up getting a fantastic high quality custom sleeve done by the website “In The Clouds.” If you like the look and want your own, definitely check out their website and use the artwork template kindly provided and custom made by Reddit user /u/spacelifter87.
Here's a look at one of those custom sleeves.
Now, as for acquiring second hand, you may have missed your chance at a decent price. The repress was one of the most anticipated in Vaporwave physical history, and Skylar made it very clear that another would almost certainly never happen. Your best bet is to check Discogs daily for a decent price on a copy. Black copies have fallen dramatically since the additional 3000 have flooded the market, and recent sales suggest a normal asking price at the moment is around $70-80 dollars. While much better than the insane $300-400 price tag it was at a year ago, spending around 70 is still a steep price for this LP. I do firmly believe every Vaporwave collection needs this record in it. However, I am inclined to believe that prices will drop further over time and more and more users list their copies for sale, so the waiting game may be your best option. If you must have it now, look for one as close to $60 as possible. It’s a great record, if you can ensure you don’t purchase a defective copy. If you can ensure you’re receiving one of the good copies however, I think you can justify spending $60 or slightly more to secure this classic.
And that’s my thoughts on the Hit Vibes vinyl! Let’s see its overall ranking and max price suggestion.
Pressing/Sound Quality: 7
Aesthetical Pleasure (Album and Vinyl/Cassette Art): 5
Album Content (Music): 10
TOTAL RATING: 22/30
SUGGESTION FOR BUYING: Essential piece of Vaporwave physical history with boring presentation and some potential quality problems. Ensure pressing quality before buying secondhand.
SUGGESTED PRICE CEILING: $65
That's all for now. Remember to subscribe to the Celadon Plaza mail list to receive all of the Physical Updates and keep an eye out on the ever-changing Release Archive to make sure you don't miss any upcoming drops!
Until next time, hope to see you around the Plaza!