This year’s closure of Morning Bell Records was a terrible blow to Jackson, Mississippi’s music scene, so the news that a new record shop had opened in Jackson was welcome. But Offbeat Arts, the new venture from adventurous Jacktown DJ Young Venom is not exactly a record store in the ordinary sense, and what it is might at first seem confusing. It is (all at the same time) an art gallery, a record shop, a clothing store, a book store and a performance space. When I visited for the first time the weekend of the Core DJ’s Retreat, it was hosting a video shoot for local hip-hop artist Jaxx City. Its vinyl selection isn’t huge, but leans toward the funky, hip and less familiar side of the spectrum, and as might be expected, there’s a decent selection of local artists and releases (but not much in the way of CD’s, so be forewarned). There are also books about hip-hop and Black culture, comic books, local Jackson clothing gear, and beautiful local art. Occasionally, on weekends, Offbeat becomes a performance space for various DJ-based genres of music, which is appropriate, as the shop sits in the middle of Jackson’s burgeoning Midtown Arts District. When visiting, it’s probably a good idea to call ahead, as some days Offbeat is open by appointment only, and the opening hours seem to vary and be a little sporadic. That being said, Offbeat is as cool as store as I’ve seen anywhere in the South.
There are cities larger than Lafayette, Louisiana that don’t really have a decent sneaker boutique, but fortunately Lafayette has one of the South’s best, a store with the unlikely name of Politics. Politics has the T-shirt lines you would expect, like The Hundreds and 10 Deep, and shoes for any color scheme, but they also have lots of local mix CD’s, many of which are free for the asking. From their base in Lafayette, Politics has now branched out to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and is planning a different kind of more upscale clothing store in Lafayette as well. Politics is definitely worth a visit anytime you’re in Louisiana.
When I rolled through the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta on Thanksgiving night, it was well after midnight and yet I noticed that the hip-hop clothing store Fly Kix was not only open but crowded, so I found a spot where I could park for free a few blocks away, and walked back to the shop. It turned out that Fly Kix was having a customer appreciation sale, with a lot of merchandise heavily discounted, and I found some T-shirts that I knew would make great Christmas gifts. The store was literally filled with people, and I met the young woman who owned the place, as well as Atlanta rap artist Money Makin Nique. Checking out ended up taking an hour of waiting in line due to the crowds of shoppers and significantly-deep discounts.
I had seen some designs I really liked at the Eight and Nine Clothing tent at the Style Village, but they didn’t have my size in them, so the people there advised me to drive nearby to a store called Threadz. In the event, Threadz didn’t have the sizes I needed either, but it proved to be a really cool urban wear boutique that I hadn’t been familiar with at all. Similar to Wish Atlanta, Threadz has a front room that features shirts and pants, and a separate room in the back that seems dedicated to sneakers. Fans of Eight and Nine Clothing will find plenty of designs (at least when supplies haven’t been decimated by special events like A3C).
After lunch, I headed over to Edgewood Avenue to check out the two outdoor stages, one between the Joystick and Mothers which was called the Old Fourth Ward Stage, and the other behind Noni’s Deli, which was called the Noni’s Village Stage. But I soon realized that the afternoon would probably be my only opportunity to check out the Style Village in Little Five Points, so I drove over there, parking near the Variety Playhouse. First I stopped by Stadium to pick up a shirt I had admired when I had stopped in there on Wednesday, and then I walked over to the Style Village, which was three rows of tents set up behind the Star Community Bar. Each tent was devoted to a different clothing line, and with the exception of Born Fly and Akoo, most of the lines were fairly new or underground lines. Some of the bigger, more familiar were giving away shirts and caps in exchange for email sign-up, so I ended up leaving the village with a bag of free swag.
One of the coolest places in East Atlanta Village is a new retail shop which is the home of Atlanta-based Atlast Clothing, a hip clothing line that at least in part is centered around Atlanta identity. Despite the hometown appeal, Atlast clothing features really attractive designs that should appeal to anyone who loves urban wear, even if they’re not from Atlanta. In addition, the store supports Atlanta’s local hip-hop scene by hosting special events, and was a ticket sales point for this year’s A3C Hip-Hop Festival.
Because I didn’t think I’d get to otherwise, I spent the better part of Thursday during the day going around to some of my favorite stores and shops in Atlanta, like Decatur CD, Criminal Records, Wax-N-Facts and Wish ATL, and discovered some new spots, like Stadium (a hip-hop clothing boutique), Beatlab (a record store for DJ’s) and Atlast Clothing (a new hip-hop line and shop). All in all, it was an enjoyable day before I headed down to the Melia for A3C events and activities.
New Orleans’ uniqueness extends beyond the French Quarter to other neighborhoods as well, like the shops and cafes of Magazine Street uptown, with their brightly-colored facades. Many of the shops in this area are unique to the neighborhood, including several that feature New Orleans-themed T-shirts, such as Fleurty Girl, Dirty Coast and Storyville.
Reggae Wear is a cool store on Miami Beach’s Washington Avenue, featuring many different reggae-related clothing lines for both men and women, including official Bob Marley apparel, and Jamaica’s popular Cooyah line. The store has an extensive selection, but if for any reason you cannot find the size or design you’re looking for, check their website for even more items.
I didn’t expect to run into a hip-hop shop in the CocoWalk, but that’s exactly what Soles Inc turned out to be. They have an extensive selection of shoes in many brilliant colors, and shirts from Undefeated, Play Clothes, The Hundreds and many other popular brands, including a small variety of their own Soles-branded shirts and caps. There are apparently several of these stores around Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but if you live elsewhere, they sell online at http://solesinc.bigcartel.com/. You can also like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Soles-Inc/144614622411.