Here are the best record stores in NYC for a sample based beatmaker. From my own experience this is the list. As a beatmaker what I tend to look for in a record store is a good jazz, soul, rock, and hip hop section, used records (no re-issues), and a dope overall vibe as a store. I am basing the order of this list on the overall vibe as a whole, everything included. Did my best to leave my bias out of it. Let's get into it.
#1 A-1 Records
Incredible spot. A hip hop heads dream record store. They've got it all, big selection of jazz, soul, rock, even doo wop and more. Their hip hop selection is not only huge, but also significantly better than anywhere else I've been in my entire life. Significantly.
- Great selection of all genres
- Dope vibe, as I said it is a hip hop lovers dream record store
- A ton of dollar bins with lots of good finds
- Main collections are not updated crazy frequently (dollar bins seem to be though)
- Trade in is alright. Wouldn't recommend but it's not terrible.
- Some of the staff are kind of airheads in my own experience, chill dudes but maybe don't know exactly what they're talking about
#2 Human Head
Another incredible spot. My #1. I would go here often because they got a bunch of dope shit and they get new shit all the time. Also got some great prices for the most part. They have a lot of $2 bins and also a lot of $5 bins which from my experience those are great. The owner is a very knowledgable dude, very respectable. You can tell he knows what he's doin.
- Phat selection of dope shit. Great for jazz, soul, rock, and random rarities
- A ton of bangin 45's. Better than any other collection I've seen (mainly soul/RnB)
- Great for trades, my go to. Dude is fair with trades and gives you like 50% of what he'd sell for
- $5 bins are great, lots of good finds
- Updated frequently
- Not much to note here
- Hip Hop selection isn't all that
#3 Blue Sun Records
A dope lil spot, super dope vibe overall. The dude who owns it is mega chill and keeps it real. He curates the spot well, doesn't take bull records, and often has some rare stuff I'd never find anywhere else. Great spot.
- Dope, rare selection. Good for jazz and soul
- Fair prices, fair trades
- Dope vibe
- Not updated super frequently
- Not the spot for dollar records
#4 Superior Elevation
A dope spot, but it lacks authenticity if you ask me. It is a great record store with a huge collection, great for jazz, soul, rock, pretty much all of it. I had a funny experience where I found a Long Live The Kane LP in the dollar bins (it was shit quality and was def a rare find, but based on the condition it wasn't a huge surprise it was in the dollar bin) and when I went to go checkout out they were like "uhh this shouldn't be in the dollar bin" and then pulled up discoggs and tried to charge me $30 for it. So they lost my respect for that. But in the end that's just one experience I had and it is still a great record store with a dope selection.
- Huge selection, good stuff (great for jazz and soul)
- A ton of dollar bins (like 20) with some decent finds
- Something about it just lacks authenticity, probably the workers
- Not updated frequently
- Trade in offers are no bueno
#5 Second Hand NYC
Super dope spot, one of my favorites for the overall vibe. Dope selection, dope dude who runs it, actual record store is dope (and if you get in with the community they throw exclusive parties every month).
- Dope selection (great for soul, 60s RnB, Jazz, 80s/90s Hip Hop)
- Good prices, good trades
- Dope overall vibe
- Not updated crazy frequently
- They've got like 5 or 6 dollar bins but I've never found much
#6 Brooklyn Record Exchange
A cool spot. A big selection, lots of rock, decent amount of jazz and soul. Hip hop section is no bueno, but overall this is a spot I would recommend checking out.
- Big selection (great for rock)
- Fair prices
- Selection could be better (definitely not bad though)
- Trade ins I wouldn't recommend
As for the rest, none really stuck out to me like these ones do.
But to name a few more worth checking out:
- Rebel Rouser (Cool small spot, punk vibe, decent selection)
- Head Sounds (Dope selection but prices are high)
- Rotten Island (In a NYC fashion/skate like store, selection isn't bad, never really found anything here though)
- Love Not Money (Decent spot, selection isn't bad but it's not huge)
- Material World (Decent selection, punk spot)
- Octopus Records (small local, found a few good records here but overall selection isn't great or big)
- Almost Ready (actually pretty dope, would recommend this one, nicely sized selection, decent stuff)
Not worth checking out:
- Deep Cuts (Mainly new records)
- Earwax Records (Small selection and dude isn't very friendly)
- Vinyl Fantasy (Nothing I was looking for, punk spot mostly new stuff)
- Rough Trade (mostly new)
- Halsey and Lewis (Selection is alright but prices are just stoopid)
- Black Gold (it's alright, the selection isn't very big or great for that matter)
- 54 Vintage Vinyl/RPM underground (good selection for jazz, can't remember if other selections are great, but mostly overpriced, and it didn't stand out to me)
I'm missing a few that I went to but overall the main list and the other ones worth checking out are what I recommend. Overall definitely go to Human Head, and A-1. Also recommend Blue Sun heavily.
If there's any on this list that aren't mentioned I probably didn't go. I'm sure there are a few other cool ones, but I tried to go to every dope looking one while I was out there. I just found out about The Thing, wish I went when I was there because it looks dope. Next time. Also Jazz record center, meant to check that one out. Heard it was cool but maybe a lil pricey. I'll have to find out for myself.
Drop a comment if you've been to any of these, or if I'm missing any, list will get updated as I go.
Anyways peace fam happy diggin.