For some, vinyl is like a daily Cuban coffee addiction or FIFA 2007 on PlayStation 3. For others, it's a leftover relic from an older generation, like comic books and Cracker Jack. Luckily in South Florida, there are still a few shops that stock it, like the storied Blue Note Records in North Miami Beach or indie stalwarts Sweat Records in Little Haiti and CD Collector in Fort Lauderdale. Now add to that list Super Soul Records, in north-central Miami at NW Seventh Avenue and 46th Street, across the street from Esther's Famous Soul Food.
Super Soul is a branch of the Bronx, New York store of the same name, both owned by world-renowned record dealer King George, a.k.a. George Johnson, age 37. He has been in the game since the late Eighties, serving up new and exclusive releases for top DJs such as Funkmaster Flex and Afrika Bambaataa, and producers like Large Professor and Danny Krivit. Meanwhile he has also been pitching vinyl from various NYC locales, including a shop on the Lower East Side and the street corners of 125th in Harlem. His first South Florida location was in Fort Lauderdale in 2004, but it closed after 18 months. The Miami site opened at the beginning of the year and specializes in all varieties of dance music, according to George, from reggae to house to disco to hip-hop.
"DJs and vinyl collectors from all around the world buy records from me — from Japan to Italy and France," George says. "I service the major stores in the city, from A-1 to Sound Library, and people come to my warehouse in New York all the time, or they just give me a list and I send it out. But the rent in New York is getting ridiculous, so I figured I like the vibe and weather down in Miami, plus the rent is cheaper, so why not move down there." Boasting a collection of half a million pieces of vinyl (yes, half a million), George still runs his operation out of the Bronx, while his son, Jamal Johnson, manages the Miami arm. "We're just a base in Miami right now, but I plan on moving down here real soon, opening up another store, and even starting my own record conventions," he says.
Through Super Soul's doors, music lovers can find original funk LPs from James Brown and the Incredible Bongo Band, or classic hip-hop from the likes of Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Showbiz & AG. Then there are all the dusty jazz, Latin, and even Christmas compilations among the crates full of leftover twelve-inches. "You have a chance to find some real gems at Super Soul," says local DJ and record collector Mr. Brown. Although Super Soul doesn't stock any new vinyl, it does carry local artists' releases on consignment and takes special orders if a desired record isn't in the catalogue.
Prices range from $1 to $100, so shoppers can either splurge on that rare David Axelrod private pressing or spend a couple of bucks to discover a whole world of music not available through iTunes or LimeWire. "Vinyl started the music culture and hip-hop overall," says Jamal. "People need to go back and find out where the music comes from before they can move forward."
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