BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL - 2000
Fifth Element hip-hop record store
Go to Cheapo for pan-genre rack combing, or Oar Folkjokeopus for the best weekly used new-wave finds, or the Root Cellar for a vast selection of oddities and rarities (love the magazine collection in the cellar). But for the new Funkmaster Flex double record, or DMX's "What's My Name" 12-inch, or the entire Rusty Pelicans catalog, head straight to Uptown's Fifth Element hip-hop record store. As Hymie's Vintage Records was to jazz (before Hymie passed away) and Let It Be Records (or Bassment Records) is to dance music, the Fifth Element is to hip hop--i.e., it stores more music than you could possibly listen to, much less want, lovingly stocked way past the knowledge level of even the most avid record consumer. Want to buy every Common album on vinyl (when you can't find even his last one on CD)? Come here. Want to own every Wu-Tang single in print, and maybe one that's not? Come here. While you're at it, pick up Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists, thumb through the pages, and randomly pick some rare underground record by some friend's cousin's act you've never heard of. Then go through the stacks and see if you don't find it. (If it's not there, see if you can't order it. Or at least pick up Ego Trip's The Big Playback: The Soundtrack to Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists.) Behind the counter, as at other good shops for hip hop around town (Classic Records, Urban Lights, the Electric Fetus), you'll find experts whose enthusiasm trumps your own because they live, breathe, and sleep (as the cliché goes) the music you just bump to. The difference is that they also love vinyl. The high-ceilinged store--with its graffiti-decorated walls, glass storefront, and DJ system at the back--is run collectively by various artists on the seminal local record label Rhyme Sayers Entertainment. All of the employees are DJs of one sort or another. Some might chide the store for selling the culture of urban blacks and Latinos straight outta Kenwood, but the shop is routinely filled with fans of all shades from as far as St. Paul's West Side or the outer suburbs. It's conveniently located on several major bus lines, and, by carrying so much vinyl, it effectively encourages casual fans to become DJs themselves. With a gang of fanzines, local mix tapes, and other nonmoneymakers filling the shelves, Fifth Element spreads and nourishes the culture it capitalizes on.