Side Project 001: VINYL BLIND BOXSET
The demand for vinyl records and cassettes has grown immensely over the past few years, making the physical music industry a strong source of revenue and opportunity for artists to reach new fans. Although many original pressing and tape distributors have shuttered their doors, notable and popular records are now available at retail locations such as Urban Outfitters. We wanted to learn more about collecting vinyl and tapes from someone who knows the music industry well, and it lead us to Amir Rahimi. Tucked away in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, Amir’s collection of Hip-Hop music and memorabilia competes with some of the best archives in the world. He has amassed a strong online following for his ability to curate and present his collection.
Read our conversation with Amir about his collection and love of music below.
INTERVIEW With Amir
When would you say you actually began collecting?
I bought my first CD in 7th grade at Tower Records in Northridge, CA. I remember buying two CDs, NWA "Greatest Hits" and Tupac's "Still I Rise.” I picked up my first vinyl at the Fat Beats shop in New York before they closed. I would say that I started seriously collecting vinyl and CDs a little under 7 years ago, when I was in 11th grade. I began collecting cassettes shortly after. I never thought I would have a collection like this. I started out buying just to support, which is still why I do it, but I never liked the concept of downloading music, so I always tried to buy when I could. I started with CDs and then got into vinyl and cassettes. I think what a lot of people don't know is that some of the original cassette and vinyl releases have songs that the CDs don't have.
Like many collectors, I assume you spend a majority of your money on your collection. How did you get started and where do you get the money to fund your habit?
All of my money goes to either music for food. I love food. Even in high school, I didn't get into drugs or drinking and would always use my paycheck to buy music. I literally only spend my money on music and food. At first, I started buying at the larger retail shops like Best Buy or Tower Records, and then got introduced to Amoeba and other local shops as I got more into it. As I built relationships with the sellers I got better deals. To this day, I only buy online if it's a pre-order or something I think will sell out. The majority of my stuff comes from swap meets and small record shops. Even now I don't really buy to sell. Maybe down the line I will, but my collection is really just for me, not for anyone else. I'm not into buying doubles to try and sell them. If I buy a double it's because it's my favorite song or album.
With so many different artists and items, how do you pick and choose what to include or exclude from your collection?
The funny thing is, when it comes to hip-hop I know how to dig and what to look for, but I know nothing about other genres. To give you an Idea, I currently own about 1,400 records and of the 1,400, there are only 10-15 records that aren't hip-hop. When I go to Amoeba, swap meets or anywhere else, I only look for hip-hop. It's a weakness, but it's really the only genre I listen to.
I love finding a record in person after I’ve been looking for it for a long time. The records aren't that expensive. Anyone with a big bank account can go online and just buy it to be shipped to their doorstep. I think that going into a shop, getting your fingers dusty and pulling the record after months and months of trying to find it is a lot more rewarding. Checking the spine number, looking it up online. That's the most fulfilling.
One thing we’ve noticed is a huge resurgence in physical music. What are your thoughts on this?
I respect anyone who promotes buying physical copies. The thing I don't like so much is when people buy vinyl or music to be hip. While it's great to put money in artists’ pockets, I want people to understand what they are buying. Don’t just buy vinyl without having a vinyl player. I feel that a lot of people want to look cool, but they don't want to take the time to learn what it's about. I am glad that I can contribute to the resurgence and enjoy getting messaged from newly inspired collectors. When I was in 7th grade, I didn't have a platform like Instagram to ask questions, so when people send me pictures of their first CD or ask me questions, I make sure to give feedback and answer each question. It's great, but I also know that it's me and other hip-hop collectors that are causing the price of records to go up, which makes them harder to afford.
Explain Your Side Project
For the Save Art project we created a blind box of 3 12-inch LPs for both new and old collectors. It's for those who either don't have access to, or the time to dig for, bargains. Here in LA we are blessed because of our location, but some people across the nation don't have access to records shops like we do. They may go to urban outfitters, but those stores won't have original singles or lesser-known artist available. The Blind Box pack gives you the stuff you can't find in larger retail shops and introduces you to different artists and types of hip-hop. It's a starter pack. I am excited to share this with the world because they are dope, and because all of the records have been handpicked by me, and I know people will like what I’ve put together.