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The Record Store

The Record Store: This Shop’s Niche Hip-Hop, Soul, Jazz, and Funk Make It a DJ’s Dream

Come inside The Stacks Record Shop in Hayward, California
Delrokz at The Stacks Records Shop. (All photos credited to Alan Chazaro)

When SETI X—the San Francisco-based emcee and recipient of the Pharrell Williams-backed J Dilla Music Tech Grant—told me about a small brick-and-mortar he co-owned with Delrokz, a turntablist and breakdancer from Daly City, I knew my visit would yield audio gold. 

Nestled in Hayward, a sleepy suburb 45 minutes outside of San Francisco—and whose local high school mascot is a hay-carrying farmer—The Stacks Record Shop can be easy to miss. The brick shop is on the edge of a three-block downtown scene, which isn’t particularly known for any music or arts presence in the region.

Though off the radar, it’s a Bay Area audiophile’s sanctuary. Since opening in 2020 during shelter-in-place, the Filipino- and Indian-owned storefront has become one of the only remaining spaces that specializes in niche hip-hop, soul, jazz, and funk. While record stores are a historically-rooted tradition in Northern California—from Sacramento’s Tower Records, Berkeley’s Amoeba Music and Rasputin, and Richmond’s No Limit Records (which Master P would later take to New Orleans to become a multi-million-dollar record label)—independent music purveyors around here have been struggling of late, in a region where you’re more likely to encounter self-driving vehicles and automated delivery robots in your neighborhood than a community of vinyl lovers.

Sadly, most longstanding businesses have shuttered as Silicon Valley’s tech moguls continue to blitzkrieg the real estate market in a digitized world. But the recently-opened Stacks is abberating from the algorithm, providing a wax-grooved song of resistance. Borrowing from the defiant spirit of old school hip-hop that Delrokz grew up with as a breakdancer and DJ in the 1980s and ‘90s, his shop is an embodiment of fighting the modern Bay Area powers that be.

“Being able to bring the arts community together and having artists use [The Stacks] as a place to share their work has been essential,” he says. “We host ciphers in the shop, DJ battles, release parties for up-and-comers, all the things we had as kids. There was a time when that wasn’t happening around here because of the rise of technology, but I wanted to foster that resurgence.”

There, you’ll find CDs from Filipina lyricists next to a stack of limited-edition comic books written by Filipino rappers. You’ll discover mixtapes supplied by parochial DJs, signed albums from the latest cadre of Oakland’s underground scene, and hard-to-find releases from artists all over the map and timeline—like a mono original pressing of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.

As inspirations, Del references Too $hort—the legendary rapper from nearby East Oakland who launched his solo career and released his debut album, Don’t Stop Rappin’, on his independently owned label, 75 Girls Records And Tapes, in 1983—and alludes to Vallejo’s E-40, the musical pioneer from a few miles north who in 1989 started his own family label, Sick Wid It.

By digging through the proverbial haystack of DJ needles at The Stack, you’ll find more than vinyl that weighs a ton—you’ll tap into a diverse lineage of West Coast hip-hop and funk innovation.

SPIN: How do you find your records?

Many records come to us. People, for whatever reason—if they inherit a collection from a family member or they don’t have room for personal storage—bring them in. We have regulars who do that. I also go to garage sales and swap meets. A lot of it is from my own personal collecting and homies selling their stuff too. I know a lot of DJs from growing up in the scene, and some of us are parents now and need to make room [Laughs]. It gives the records a second life.

What’s the most expensive record you’ve ever sold?

Pete La Roca’s Basra. One of those rare Blue Note Records. Sold for $500. I hate selling original press records like that, to be honest. I want to keep them for myself. I found another Basra vinyl, but it wasn’t an original, and it doesn’t sound the same. Maybe it’s psychological, but I like listening to the originals better.

The rarest?

Probably Pete La Roca.

Who’s the most famous person who ever came into your store?

We recently had D’Wayne Wiggins from Tony! Toni! Toné! and DJ House Shoes in here. A-Plus from Souls of Mischief hosted some listening parties for his beat tapes in here as well. Ovrkast., who just produced two songs for Drake, stops by from time to time. But for me, the most famous was probably DJ Shortkut of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz [a pioneering all-Filipino DJ crew from nearby Daly City].

What was your first concert?

The Vallejo Fair, Solano County Fairgrounds. I saw Con Funk Shun. They’re a Bay Area funk and soul group from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Like Sly and the Family Stone [a local group in the ‘60s].

Favorite album?

That’s a hard one. Hip-hop wise it’s always going to be the Black Star album: Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Non hip-hop, I’m very cliche. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Or James Brown’s Revolution of the Mind.

Any advice for someone who wants to open a record store?

Don’t do it! Nah, just joking. Definitely have fun with it. That’s what we try to do here. What’s the point if you’re not having fun? Make the store about you. This place is like being in the inside of my mind. Record stores should have personal character. Our store has a vibe, a culture. We do more than just sell records here.