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Big City Records

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

521 E. 12th St., New York, NY 10009 40.72891 -73.980811
nr. Ave. A  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-539-0208 Send to Phone

  • Reader Rating: Write a Review
  • Price Range: ($$) Mid-Range
  • Type: Specialty Shop
Photo by Corinne Durand

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L at First Ave.

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Though this vinyl shop is somewhat smaller than the name suggests, Big City’s nondescript storefront hides some of the choicest beats south of 14th Street. The DJ-and-producer-oriented collection stretches from the late 1960s through the 1990s and is, for the most part, limited to out-of-print and “rare groove” albums from the hip-hop, soul, funk, and disco genres (no rock, metal, or country here). You’ll find only a small sampling of factory-fresh reissued CDs; the store relies upon contacts in the Northeast—as well as private collectors from as far away as Tokyo—for its steady flow of hard-to-find EPs and 45s, which are fastidiously organized for easy browsing. Though the jazz section is well-stocked with Coltrane and Davis in addition to lesser-known names like Patrice Rushen and Yusef Lateef, you won’t find much by Bob Marley or the Gypsy Kings among the esoteric reggae, Latin, and Brazilian, offerings. Even the much larger disco, soul, and hip-hop bins favor names not widely known and more obscure material from popular artists—so don’t be surprised if that Cypress Hill album yields some unfamiliar sounds when popped onto one of the store’s three turntable listening stations.

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