Best East L.A. Record Store - 2012
Sound of Music Records and Tapes
This shop specializes in gangsta rap, be it the traditional English-language kind from South Central L.A. or the Spanish-infused kind from here and Latin America. N.W.A posters are on the wall and you'll find menacing airbrushed T-shirts, Chicano rap magazines and maybe even the works of Lil Eazy-E. But Sound of Music Records and Tapes has something for everyone: NFL-themed purses, California flags, doo-wop box sets, DVDs, even barbecue sets. At the back it becomes something of a head shop, with bongs, incense and giant Cheech and Chong–themed lighters. The staff tends toward the knowledgeable and charismatic, although, sadly, many of the mixtapes they'll recommend are not available here. Such is the peril of brick-and-mortar stores in the digital age. Still, if you're the kind of person who wants to inspect your Sublime poster up close before you buy it, you won't find a better store. 4956 E. Whittier Blvd., East L.A. (323) 261-9224.