London Essentials: Exploring East London Record Shops

Within the East London neighborhood of Dalston, lies some of coolest spots to buy wax, hangout and enjoy life. Words by Will Benrubi
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Within the East London neighborhood of Dalston, lies some of coolest spots to buy wax, hangout and enjoy life. Words by Will Benrubi

In the past I reviewed some very dope record shops in the central London neighborhood of Soho. This month we venture into East London, one of the main culture hubs that make up a huge chunk of London's soul, being the home of a set of quality record shops, venues, parties, and awesome people. 

Eastern neighborhoods like Shoreditch feature a series of amazing restaurants, nightlife and street art, but like many hip neighborhoods around the world, it faces the major battle of gentrification. It's no longer affordable for the young and upcoming artistic crowds, and continually has new luxury apartments being built up higher and higher.

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It wasn’t until I ventured into Dalston, East London, to meet up with the guys from Soul Clap for their set at NTS Radio, when I discovered this very cool neighborhood. NTS was founded in 2011 by one of the OG members of Boiler Room, Femi Adeyemi, and is a platform that showcases DJs and artists across the board, spanning from big legendary names to hand selected up and coming talent. 

READ: INSIDE THE FUNKY UNIVERSE OF SOUL CLAP [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW & PHOTO GALLERY]

When the guys were finished with NTS, we walked over to the nearest bar for a drink, stumbling into this spot called the Vortex, which is a jazz bar on the top floor, and a hang out joint below it called the Downstairs. To our own luck, we happened to go into the Downstairs when East London native & DJ Miss Soxee, was hosting her monthly 'Open Decks' show, that puts on a different vinyl DJ every hour to showcase their eclectic collections. If you are looking for the perfect mix of old school and underground vibes, this is the place to go, hosting numerous record label peeps, and a handful of talented radio hosts such as DJ's like Don Pascal, Mucho Soul, and Patrick Steele from back2back FM, Joan Smith from Hoxton FM, and DJ Soul Prvyder from Soho Radio, to just name a handful. 

I got together with Miss Soxee to put together four of our favorite spots to dig for records on the East Side. Here are my two picks followed by Miss Soxee's:

5 Pearson St, London E2 8JD | Tel: 020 7729 8978

5 Pearson St, London E2 8JD | Tel: 020 7729 8978

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Love Vinyl has a killer selection of grooves ranging all across the genre board, from brand new disco-edits from great new labels to hip-hop, jazz, and some very rare house cuts you need to dig for. Feel free to walk up to one of the staff  and ask them whats good; they are good people and will come back at you with a stack of records that will get your ears flowing and your feet moving. Be sure to walk downstairs to find they're massive sale, selling records from exchanged collections for £1 a piece. There's also a good shot you may elbow rub with some of London's (and the world's) finest tastemakers, as this joint has hosted Gilles Peterson behind their decks for special release parties, and is also one of the BBC/Brownwood Recordings man's go to spots.

What we copped: Junktion - Hot & Bothered EP [RNTR005] | Norman Connors/Bembe Segue - Mother Of The Future [10EXP20141] | Chapter Edits #1 [CHAPTER001] | James Ingram - Lean On Me [MAW056]

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44 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XJ | Tel: 020 7254 2130

44 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XJ | Tel: 020 7254 2130

Located right down the block from NTS Radio lies Kristina, a low key spot with no sign, so it's easy to pass by if you're not paying attention. Elyte "Bamboozle" (1/2 of Soul Clap) and I hit this spot up the weekend he was gigging in town, and walked away with some serious wax. The store has an amazing selection of hand picked new electronic releases from boutique labels, along with a great selection of second hand records ranging from funk, soul, jazz, afro-beat, and on. If you dig through their crates, you can find original presses of some of the biggest original house tracks, vintage promos from legends like Michael Jackson and James Brown, and so much more if you take the time. 

What Elyte & I Copped: Dennis Coffey - Gimme That Funk / Calling Planet Earth [LV6]| Slick (2) - Space Bass [FTC 176] | Ben 'Cozmo D' Cenac - Cozmic House EP [THUG 011] | Scott Grooves - Mothership Reconnection [DINST 185]

Miss Soxee's Picks:

8 Bradbury St, N16 8JN | Tel: 020 7254 5220

8 Bradbury St, N16 8JN | Tel: 020 7254 5220

One of the first vinyl shops to open before the welcomed invasion of Kristina, Love Vinyl, Sister Ray, Flashback and Cosmo Records, Eldica is a second hand record shop that also carries really cool retro memorabilia. It's got everything from a great selection of reggae 7’ and copious amounts of disco and funk. I have spent many afternoons, digging around and have found great records like Roy Ayer’s 'You Send Me' album [PD-1-6159] as well as the 'Cool Ruler' Gregory Isaac’s 'Night Nurse' [ILPS 9721] album with the popular track names after the album itself.

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127 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH | Tel: +44 7990 558062

127 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH | Tel: +44 7990 558062

Only those in the know are knowledgeable about Stoke Newington’s best-kept secret (not anymore) vinyl shop, Lucky Seven. This shop is wall to wall with music, from second hand vinyl to books to comics... this is only the first floor. I never seem to make it downstairs to the basement where I hear theres is quality old house vinyl ripe for the buying. My attention goes straight to the 7’ corner, where you can easily spend an afternoon searching through endless boxes of 80's soul, disco, funk, reggae and pop music. This shop never disappoints and rarely do I leave Lucky 7 without a handful of 7’s. Amongst the search I have found disco gems like Dynasty’s 'I’ve Just Began to Love You' [YB-12021] and Light Of The World's 'Time'

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If you are in East London, be sure to check out these really cool joints. Whether you are looking to find some really funky gems for your DJ sets, or just trying to expand your record collection, give each of these stores plenty of time to search through their vast selections, and you will be beyond impressed! Happy Digging!