At the corner of PCH and Martin L. King Ave., in one of Long Beach’s most culturally rich black neighborhoods, sits the icon: and now historic VIP Records sign, that once anchored the former VIP Records Store. VIP Records opened its doors in 1978 breaking R&B, gospel, jazz, reggae and blues acts.
By the early 90’s, VIP became the World Famous VIP Records and the birthplace of G-Funk by providing the launching pad for Warren G, Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg, who later recorded his first video “What’s my name?” on the roof of VIP Records, with the now historic sign.
“The VIP was the place to go if you were a rapper to showcase your skills. VIP is special to me and I take the VIP with me everywhere I go,” comments Snoop Dogg in an upcoming documentary titled The VIP Legacy.
In the 90’s at a time of heightened gang violence Kelvin Anderson Sr., owner of VIP Records, with the help of producer, Sir Jinx opened up a small studio in a back of his record store to provide a safe haven for young people. It was there that 213, with producer DJ Slice, recorded the demo that would land Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg record deals.
On December 19, 2017, the Long Beach City Council recognized the history and dedication of Kelvin Anderson Sr and VIP Records by voting 9-0 in favor of designating the VIP sign a historic landmark in the city of Long Beach. By Kelvin Anderson Sr.’s side was his big brother, Cletus Anderson who opened the original VIP in South Central LA, in 1967 and went on to open the Long Beach Location in 1978, before it was sold to Kelvin Anderson Sr.
“It’s really important that tonight we designate this landmark but it’s really about honoring Kelvin and his family,” Mayor Robert Garcia stated. “It should not be lost on us that we have so few historical landmarks that honor first and foremost, the black experience and Black Americans in Long Beach.”
Of the 100 historic landmarks in Long Beach, only two has anything to do with African American culture – one of which Craftsman bungalow belonging to the late civil rights pioneer Ernest S. McBride, founder of the local chapter of the NAACP. On a national scale, only 3% of historic landmarks are associated with the African American community, and the VIP sign is the only Hip-Hop or music landmark of its kind in the world.
After 40 years, the historic VIP sign will be taken down on January 11, 2018, and will be stored until a home is secured to build the first Black Music Museum and Multi-Media center.
VIP Records does not own the building the sign is on top of, and the original location, which VIP downsized from in 2012, has since been leased to 7-11 Corporation.
Although 7-11 agreed to work with VIP to preserve the history, 7-11 backed out of the agreement in September of 2017. They went on to open the store, with the help of the local council member, Dee Andrews, the week the sign was designated as a historic landmark.
“A historic landmark development would have increased tourism, property values, and brought much-needed investments to a community that is facing 50% poverty among its kids,” comments Shirin Senegal, President of VIP Records. “We encouraged the city to work with us to purchase the original location, but the political will was not there. Perhaps that will change when the reality of what we gave up to 711, kicks in.”
“This is a bittersweet moment for us. Taking the sign down after 40 years is not easy, but we will not keep it over 711, a company that does not respect African American history. I feel confident Mayor Garcia and the city will help us secure the right home for The Historic VIP Sign so that we can tell the story of Black Music,” says Anderson.
So far, the city has allocated $80,000 to restore and preserve the sign and has committed to help VIP secure a home for the sign. Currently, VIP is working to secure land across the street from the original VIP Location, that is owned by the city, to build its future development.
In the meantime, VIP is slated to open a 5,000 square foot multimedia center and business incubator, within a mile from the original VIP location. The center will be spearheaded by the World Famous VIP Foundation and Ronnie’s House, and will be the first of its kind in the district to foster entrepreneurship and multimedia.
To learn more about VIP Records or for licensing opportunities or collaborations, please visit www.shopviprecords.com. You can take a photo with the historic sign no later than Wednesday Jan 10, 2018 before it comes down from the original location where it made history!