Thank 7-Eleven for Chicano Music Heaven?

7-Eleven: A one-stop shop for all your Chicano music needs!
7-Eleven: A one-stop shop for all your Chicano music needs!

Record stores in OC have been in decline this past decade. Tower Records is long gone and the block of the Virgin Megastore in Orange is a fleeting memory--but it's still forever captured in the Sasha Baren Cohen movie Borat. Independent spot Bionic Records once held three locations, but now shares a space with another store in Cypress. Even the last remaining national chains are struggling. FYE in Huntington Beach is having a major liquidation sale. Is there any hope for those of us who still want to buy music in a store instead of downloading it online? There is, indeed, a small glimmer when it comes to the multi-genre, multi-generational offerings of Chicano music!

Last month, I received an e-mail from a Chicano Rap music label announcing that, starting in December, 7-Eleven stores in Southern California would begin distributing titles from two of the most popular artists from the genre these days: Lil Rob and Ms. Krazie. As someone who usually goes to the liquor store down the street (where the Asian cashier speaks better Spanish than I do and probably my parents, too!) the news caught me off-guard. CDs at 7-Eleven? Really? The only time I hit up the convenience store chain is on walks around the block in Long Beach when I'm hanging out with my family. We are usually on a one-track mission to pick up beer, snacks and an OC Weekly paper on the way out. It never occurred to me that CDs would be on sale, too!

My sister-in-law told me the stores in the LBC sold a lot of old-skool rap and even freestyle CDs! With that, I had to see it for myself. Instead of checking online for a list of participating stores, I figured I could easily find them on my own in North Orange County. Yesterday I headed to a 7-Eleven in Anaheim,  across the street from a Taquer

Chicanos like Johnny Cash too! (2nd row to the right)
Chicanos like Johnny Cash too! (2nd row to the right)

Not only was Chicano rap represented, but much, much more! Thump Records and Art Laboe's Original Sound label were there, too. A customer could pick up the funk of the Gap Band, the guitar virtuosity of Carlos Santana, the infectious bilingual Latin pop of Rene y Rene, the Oogum Boogums of Brenton Wood and, of course, the barrio rhymes of Ms. Krazie. Another "for the hell of it" trip after to a different 7-Eleven location in Anaheim netted the same results including offerings from Lil Rob and Lil Cuete, as well. Everything was bargain-priced: a penny under ten dollars, too.

A trip to the convenience store can now boast the broad experience of picking up a pack of cigs, a tall can, a Reynaldo's burrito (if you dare), a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and the Chicano music CD of your choice all in one visit. Can iTunes do that? Nope!

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