I got into it while looking for a way to write about indoor swap meets in Los Angeles, which have always intrigued me. I shop at them often and find them fascinating business models for micro-entrepreneurs.
Most, if not all, are owned by Koreans, for whom the indoor swap meet was an important route into the middle class in America.
They provided another view of black-Korean relations than that of the Korean-owned liquor store.
Mr. Kim is pictured here with his wife, Boo Ja, and his son, Kirk, who now runs the stall at Compton Fashion Center.
Kelvin Anderson, owner of World Famous VIP Records
Here’s my story on Kelvin Anderson, owner of World Famous VIP Records, and the last of the great independents in what’s become now the old music industry.
He marketed music via boomboxes and car stereos and championed a host of young kids, rappers from Long Beach streets, some of whom, like Snoop Dogg, went on to change the music.
So punk rock!
Now Anderson is downsizing his store and says he’ll probably only stay in business a year.
You can read the story at the link above, and listen to a podcast interview I did with Anderson regarding the early days of the store and gangster rap and how a music that took over started from a small little drum machine.
Kelvin Anderson, owner of World Famous VIP Records in Long Beach
I’ve been spending time lately with Kelvin Anderson, owner of World Famous VIP Records in Long Beach, a ferociously independent record store.
Anderson’s store is a landmark, one of the places where rap began in Southern California, and a store that hung on long beyond others because it mastered the art of customer service, knowing what people wanted, and got them in touch with emerging artists who didn’t get any radio play.
But he’s downsizing now, moving from the space he occupied for 33 years and this will probably be his last year, the last independent record store around. “You can’t compete with free,” he told me.
Anderson was there at the beginning of one of the three great DIY musical forces to come out of LA. In Hollywood, it was punk in the late 1970s. In the late 1980s, from Paramount came Chalino Sanchez and Mexican drug ballads, narcocorridos.
Anderson helped mid-wife gangster rap, which emerged in the mid-1980s and into the 1990s, from the garages of Compton then Long Beach came West Coast gangster rap — first with NWA, then with Snoop Dogg and his 213 crew. 213’s first demo was recorded on a drum machine in VIP’s backroom.
Anderson’s advertisement was getting new cassettes in the hands of those with big car stereos and ghetto blasters — “street promotion.” (Gangster rap was so punk rock.)
Yet I wonder whether these kinds of geographic movements of intense garage band creativity are as possible nowadays, even as technology has allowed everyone to be a DIYer, all from a laptop computer, and avoid entirely the control of major record labels. “It’s people’s attention span,” Anderson told me.
Hope to have a podcast of an interview with him (a first for me!) that’ll go with the story on VIP’s downsizing, which I hope will run in a few days.