Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Phono Booth Record Store 1983-1999
If this were a film instead of a blog, this would be an establishing shot. Pictured above is the Phono Booth record store, a integral part of the hip-hop scene in Richmond in the '90s and the setting for many a Wavelength episode.
The Phono Booth was owned by Artie Jefferson. His sole employee was my co-host, Dre. Artie had been in the record game for years and he knew how to play it. Some of the biggest names in black music made appearances at his cramped store.
This place was essential to our achievements. Since our access to the television studio was limited, the record store became our favorite location for interviews. Masta Ace. Redman. Lady Apache. Jeru. Mobb Deep. Big Shug. We did a lot of work in there.
The music didn’t stop at the Phono Booth. Artie coordinated an annual showcase of local talent for three years at a nearby parked. For three years, people listened to music and partied until sundown without incident.
Things weren’t the same after a gunshot victim staggered into the store and collapsed one day. It may have been a harbinger of harder times to come. The Internal Revenue Service put locks on the store in 1999 and sold the contents at an auction. The store came back under different ownership and a new name, but with Artie still calling the shots. It lasted for awhile. Then the landlord bought out the store and turned it into a laundromat.
This picture is from a photo essay on the store I did for one of my college classes.