Today Is International Boombox Day. Celebrate With the Volume WAY PAST TEN (Video)
Today (7/20), is International Boombox Day. Whether the day of recognition is an official holiday or not, it seems as good a time as any to celebrate one of the most iconic devices in Hip-Hop history.
Whether it was adorning the shoulder of LL Cool J, used as a metaphor for rebellion in Do the Right Thing, or providing the soundtrack for B-Boys and B-Girls across the land, a “box” was as much of a statement in the 80s as Beats by Dre headphones are now. Similarly, the large and often extremely loud portable stereos were equal parts entertainment and fashion symbols.
Boxes had countless features to set them apart from the next one, whether it was number of speakers (1, 2, 3, 4, 8…woofer, tweeter, mid-range…), multiple audio controls (bass, treble, mid-range, full-EQ), Dolby noise reduction (set to “off” was always louder), tape-quality setting (normal, chrome, metal), LED indicators and more. Along with the kicks on someone’s feet, nothing said “fresh” like a state of the art boombox.
The radios were not just for show, though. A pretty box without the amps to back it up would often get laughed off the block. And, Heads were quick to battle to see who had the most wattage.
Despite its status in Hip-Hop culture, not much is known about the creator of boomboxes. Unlike devices like the Technics 1200 turntables, Sony’s Walkman or Apple’s iPod, there was no one box that took the market by storm, so there is no definitive story. Last year, some boombox enthusiasts put together a film to stir interest in learning more about the history and evolution of jamboxes. Simply titled Boombox Creators, the film is billed as a “docu-manhunt” and features several other box fans, including The Wire’s Andre Royo, NWA’s Arabian Prince and more. Here’s a clip from the film showing some of what they’ve learned so far.
As the film shows, though it was at its popularity peak nearly 30 years ago, passion for boxes endures. So, whether it’s buried under a pile of tapes in the attic or squeaky clean on the living room shelf, now is the time to pull out the DD batteries, insert the throwback radio dub tape, and turn the volume “WAY PAST TEN,” in celebration of International Boombox Day.