This is the second installment of the Kool Skool's documentation of the disappearing independant Hip-Hop shop community. In UK HIP-HOP IS DEAD? Part 1 the UK's first Hip-Hop only club Spats was looked at, but aside from that the others featured were the Soho shops from mid 90's and over. This time we're digging deep and exploring some of the legendary places where scene and the many friendships were solidified.
Groove Records 1988 photo courtesy of Skire TNS/Sin Cru
One of the most famous London Hip-Hop Record shops. Graffiti shutters by Nonstop. Seen in BBC Arena's "Bad Meaning Good" documentary.
it features at 2:05 mins:
"Maaan , that place was the mecca in the early eighties. We were down most Sat's" - Grrurge Agent
"You are such a 100% hip hop geek !! I have a shot of the piece that Fade 2 did on the outside of Groove records if you need it. Other than that stop being such a hip hop Inspector Clusoe hip hip geek!!!" - Steam156 (hahaha!)
Steam156 is a legendary UK based International Graffiti Documenting GEEK! Info about his refurbished Graffiti website www.aerosolplanet.com can be found here
Groove Records 1988 photo courtesy of Skire TNS/Sin Cru
"The place to go in Soho back in the day..." - ZEEROCK
Groove Records Bag photo courtesy of Skire TNS/Sin Cru
"A Legendary shop that is!" - Monster Colors 2009
"What a dilemma......only having enough cash for 1 12, do I get 'victory' by caveman whitelabel or 'Divine Styler' Ain't saying nothing?......UK hip hop won that day. Great shop with Aunty Jean and with her son being great mates with Mike Allen....you can see why he had so many 'exclusives' on his friday night show.
Saturday mornings......flicks, buntlack then you went and got your record....so much stuff came back from that shop to Essex...." - E.R.Z - THE ESSEX ROCKERZ
Groove Records Bag reverse photo courtesy of Skire TNS/Sin Cru
Top shop, didnt they have a Pride peice behind the counter with a fresh pride tag with sort of a spaced out background with those lovely old school shines." - Ronny Bloody Oner
"Spent way too much money in, Groove records, BlueBird records and City Sounds shops during the early 80s when I was a DJ. I know BlueBird dissapeared a good while back, Sad to see Groove records gone as well, anyone know when they closed up?, no idea if City Sounds are still going." - Silver Music
"Managed to make a few trips down there in the mid 80s. vinyl hip hop mecca. got a pic of the piece on the boards too.
seem to remember the quality of the music going down hill around 90ish?" - Van Go TFB
Groove records is now a clothes store.
Liberty Grooves R.I.P.
South London Hip Hop shop and record label, released very sought after (and very Bootleg) Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show freestyles with Biggie Smalls and others and released UK classic 12" by the Guttasnypes with MC Cel One and DJ Prime Cuts (Scratch Perverts).
It is now a Nail and Beauty Salon
"Liberty Grooves...South london record shop mecca... R.I.P I've got their second vinyl release somewhere in my collection." - ZEEROCK
"On the subject of old school shops, the daddy of them all was Groove Records.... I have some pictures somewhere... All good history...." - Skore TRC
"Loved this spot,lived just round the corner,i think a friend may still may still have video footage". - Rocking two copies of was dog a doughnut
4Star 1 R.I.P.
This was the legendary 4 Star General, it was downstairs in one of the many tacky tourist shops selling mad stuff like bootleg Metal shirts and "The Pope Smokes Dope" and highly offensive "Hitler World Tour "Shirts.
The downstairs was packed full of Army surplus stuff and Kung Fu weapons. Under the stairs tucked away was the legand that is G and Troop Sneakers, Dapper Dan Suits, Fake Cazals and Public Enemy T-shirts.
London Graffiti legend Crymein cutomised t-shirts and other clothes here when pretty much only Brooklyn's Shirt Kings were doing it.
"It looks so posh nowadays. I got my first belt buckle from here...I wrote Devast:8 but i could only afford a 3 letter one so i got a DEV... Proud as fuck walking around with it on though!
In fact i got a pair of those Troop boots from there some time later.
The guy who worked there always seemed moody, guess he had his fair share of writers passing through tryin to rack shit.
This place seemed to be one of the only places dedicated to the Hip Hop movement and fashions of those times. Fair enough there were other places but none of them captured the vibe of this place.
The Crymien airbrush stuff was dope and i still have a flyer that he did to promote the store somewhere.
Things just were'nt the same when it moved to Camden.
Also the whole of the west end was bombed to fuck and it was great to see who had passed through and was up." - ZEEROCK
"My mate Care/AE used to airbrush teeshirts for him back in 1987/1988. All I remember was he was a rip off all the way or so it seemd back then. The guys selling teeshirts got a pittance really and he pocketed the majority of the cash." - b0bby
"I used to do the t-shirts there in 88 along with Rixs and Crymein.
general used to pay me a tenner per shirt, and if i remember rightly, charge £25 a pop. One of his staff back then was a guy called Vassan.
George would always have a fat bumbag stuffed with moneey and enjoy flashing it.
I too bought a pair of troops for £100 (when the dearest nikes at the time were about £65), also georgio brutini's and travel fox trainers before any where else got them.
I remember going to the ice t gig in tonbridge and seeing someone with one of my shirts, and i pulled them up on haveing put their tag on top of mine, trying to pass it off as one of their own!" - Rob Euroh
"A Few of us used to go 4* in the late 80s Loved that store. They had just a few tins of 400ml Buntlack behind the glass counter on the left had side, dont know if anyone evey bought it though because it never moved, probably racking it at the London art store
PEICE (of cake)" - Ronny Bloody Oner
I started going here about 1987 or early 88' with Tizer One ID and DJ ODoubleEss (The Kool Skool Radio Show), I remember it smelling like mothballs and old clothes because most of the shop had old army stuff in there. Back then I was really short and young. I went to buy what was obviously now a crazy bootleg P.E. corduroy Baseball cap. As I was paying for it, a boy in there asked me "if I was a boy or a girl!!!" I was really gutted. Not my favorite Hip-Hop memory! Hahahaha... - Shucks One ID/UZN/SDM
MC Duke - Music of Life recording artist
When I was 15, I got me name belt there and met MC Duke at the shop." - rs_the_rs
MC Duke - "I'm Riffin"
"Yes mate very good idea you have in the pipeline i had some mad times in this shop. George was a right character! I also have some flyers from this shop. I'll sort them out." - Boast One
"I got my first name belt from this shop also. I got two crymein tee's and a sweat from here, i think i may have them somewhere. I remember hanging out here and listening to bootleg Red Alert mix tapes from the US and George wanting £5 a pop. which in them days....
As for the flyers, I stiil have the second one but it was the first one that killed it for me... Crymein's charater in the middle with the troops on and the googles on its head. Ahh, memorys...." - Bonzai ID
I remember my first outing to 4* in 1989 to choose my 15th birthday present - a pair of Troops. They were dope. That's when 4* was up Inverness Street. After being there he moved down the high road, just after the bridge over the canal, on the right, down in someone's basement. I got some very fresh Filas there in about '91. After being there he moved to the plot just over the road from Camden tube station." - End Level Boss
4 Star General 2 R.I.P.
This was the second one, it had graffiti supplies, Con Art Shirts, 90's 3/4 length Triple Fat Gooses (as worn by Flava Flav on one of the P.E. liner sleeves), and the same stuff as the other store but really old and dusty! hahaha! It was the original UK Hip-Hop museum, like a time capsule. Everyone liked G!
"I remember going in there for my 15th or 16th birthday and being blown away by the airbrushed clothes!!!! blew my mind!
paint was quite pricey but i didnt care at all then!
went in with my older sister who just told me i had 50 quid to spend!
the guy i spoke to there was very cool too, real nice. rip!!!!" - HERAS RTC
"I was working and living in North London for a little while so I used to go there quite a lot, I remember them having a lot of weird Euro graff mags, and old musty clothes. Me and Tizer tried to get name buckles for ages but he never had any letters, we eventually got them in the end though. I thought G was cool, I remember him drinking those little airplane bottles of liquor. The last time I saw him was at Scratch club in about 2003. Someone saw him driving the 109 bus in Streatham or something. I wish I'd had enough money to buy up some of that stock." - Shucks One ID/UZN/SDM
"I remember getting the odd belton 'RAL spray' from here and early Graphotisms... also an Inner Circle jumper - think by Etch? I remember the Tower Records in the High St. down the road being all bombed in the mag section too. a 15 year old bumpkin's dream haha!" - Alope 372
This shop was here for about "5-6 months", it sold Dappa Dan suits, 4-Finger rings and other 80's "Trooper" wear. I thought it was the second 4 Star General, but was corrected by the guy in the Camden Graff shop. I spent about an Hour trying to work out where it was. Asking market stall owners, random sales assistants, but I tracked it down.
Its now "Nasty Vinyl" it sells Vinyl colletibles, an the nice lady who works there confirmed that this was the place, so great thanks to her! If you like collectibles this is the spot:
Cowling Wilcox - "The Art Shop" R.I.P.
Original rack spot, Buntlack & Edding 850's!!!! They don't stock either now.
"For some reason, we always preferred this to the London Graphic Centre for Buntlack and piecebooks and a saturday visit to the smoke wouldn't be complete without this shop, then onto Hitman records. Many a time we'd get there too early and have to wait outside with our rucksacks ready for those cans...by this time they were already wise to racking and the buntlack was put up on high shelves like some unobtainable prize.
Nowadays I still check for it.....one of my favourite london boozers is over the road.....The John Snow. - E.R.Z - THE ESSEX ROCKERZ
"I rekt that shop..they got Montanas now." - Ledge Leaper
We at the Kool Skool have been doing more than most over the years to document UK Hip-Hop and Graffiti history, and it is really positive to see the recent release of books like London Handstyles, Crack & Shine and the Old School Covent Garden Reunions...
Many thanks to HurtYouBad, Skire Sin Cru, Masika RCS, Able BNB, The HQ Store and the many others who have supported this little excercise and for helping us spread the word. It is appreciated. Part 3 starting soon....
Peace from the Kool Skool