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
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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!