Long Gone Daly City Record Store Cue's Records Celebrates Its Hip-Hop legacy with Reunion BBQ

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2012 07:20pm | Post a Comment
During its long gone and long missed lifetime 1990's Daly City record store Cue's Records, owned and operated by Frank "DJ Cue" Cuevas of the Bullet Proof Hamsters/Space Travelers, was more than simply a shop to cop that latest rap 12" single ,or battle record, or other DJ supplies from.

Rather Cue's was a cultural crossroads for hip-hop devotees: a place where Bay Area (and beyond) hip-hop fans, party DJs, and turntablists would gather in support of their shared love of records and all things hip-hop.

For six years up until 2000 Cue's Records, which sat atop that famous hill in Daly City across from what was once Steven Matthew David's heavily advertised electronics store, was the setting for many memorable events. And who would have expected anything less from a store owned and operated by a founding member of the Bay Area's legendary turntablist crew (along with Eddie Def and DJ Quest and later Marz and Eddie K) who were responsible for making the first DJ battle break record Hamster Breaks. In its time Cue's was revered and supported by DJs and hip-hop diehards; many of whom who would trek in from far outlying places like Stockton just to stop by Cue's. Indeed Cue's unique independent Bay Area hip-hop record shop, opened in 1994, quickly built a positive rep for having cool in-store sessions and holding DJ battles inside the store. And of course you could buy records that DJ Cue was himself directly involved in. That included the Cue's Hip Hop Shop volume one and two compilations that came out via Stray Records (DogDay Records' spinoff label).

Additionally DJ Cue and the store that bore his name, became synonymous with an early era fight in the preservation of the vinyl format. Cue's Keep Vinyl Alive  T-shirts that he designed and carried in the store were a popular shirt. It is now a dozen years since DJ Cue closed shop but its legacy lives on. And this Saturday, October 13th, at Gellert Park in Daly City (not too far from the store's location) is having a reunion BBQ with a lot of great DJs, including DJ Quest, Joe Quixx, Mista B, and Kool DJ Rize, all gathering to join in the celebration.

This week I caught up with DJ Cue to ask him about this weekend's Reunion BBQ, the years of Cue's Records and some of the most memorable events there, the years since he closed shop, if he will ever reopen his much loved and missed record shop, and such other things as his top five most memorable events at his store.

DJ Cue's Top Five Most Memorable Events at Cue's Records: 1994 - 2000

1) The best memories I have are from the employees. You could not get a better bunch of guys to hang out with to BS, tell jokes, argue about music, and just have as friends, co-workers and family.

2) Biggie came by twice for autographs. That was insane. Kids were lined up outside for that.
3) 2 Live Crew was the only group to show up in a limo. They actually blocked half of the street on Mission Street. Really cool dudes and great with fans.

4) Method Man and Redman came to the shop and Redman just jumped up on the turns and started playing records. Method Man was passed out on the couch we had. Craziness.
5) The DJ battles we had all were great memories. Some of those kids are now great older legend DJ’s. You have to appreciate their determination.

What were the exact dates of the store's life; months/years?

DJ Cue:  February 1994 to January 2000.  The record pool moved upstairs of shop and stayed until January 2001.

Amoeblog: What is in the location now?

DJ Cue:   There is a bowling supply store there now.

Amoeblog: Why did you close the store and what have you been doing since?

DJ Cue:  I closed the shop for two reasons. One: burnt out and was missing out on having a regular life in my twenties. I missed out on the regular things most people get to do because I was always at the shop or had to make sure things were in order. I was inexperienced in management so I didn’t plan for what you normally would in a business. And two: I felt it was time to move on to something else that was more manageable. DJ’s were not buying records like they used to and regular folks who bought cd/tapes were downloading from Napster like crazy. Technology wasn’t favoring small shops and the future was apparent that we were going to lose clientele to the digital world.

Amoeblog: You were pretty young when you opened this retail business. So how did you pull it all off at that age?

DJ Cue:  As a kid I always knew I wanted to be in business no matter what it was. I was 18 in 1991 and was already running a studio from my house and that grew to putting out the DJ records and from there it turned into growing into a record store. I usually just follow the path of the business. Kinda makes sense to the shop closing too.

Amoeblog: As a retail location Cue's was in an out of the way space in terms of foot traffic for hip-hop fans. So where did folks come from and who were those regular Cue's customers?

DJ Cue: Yeah the shop was more based on my roots to Daly City. I was born a few blocks up from the shop and I went to school and had my base support from there. Being the biggest city on the Peninsula, it made sense to me and having the freeway, BART, and Mission St. there as travel routes helped a lot. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about location. San Francisco has too many stores and the best choice was to specialize and be in my own pond to stand out. Daly City provided that and even more Daly City already had a rich hip hop culture with the early 80’s DJ’s, writers, and B-Boys. I had to stick to the path they put before me.

Amoeblog: What were the top five most popular items sold at Cue's during its time?

DJ Cue:
Ha ha ha, great question. Nobody will ever argue about this if you worked there. You would think it would be some major label release or “indie hip hop” but the Bay Area reigned supreme as far as sales go.
       1) Young Cellski Mr Predictor

        2) Andre NickatinaCocaine Raps

        3) West Coast Bad BoysAnotha Level of the Game Vol 1

        4) JT The Bigga FiggaDon’t Stop Til We Major”

        5) tie San QuinnLive N Direct”
        5) tie GLPStraight Out The Lab

Can you tell me how the "Keep Vinyl Alive" drive came about and what kind of responses it got over time?

DJ Cue:  Keep Vinyl Alive came from Hamster Breaks. When that was released in 1993 it was agreed to add a message to the release and the stickers we added to the first pressing became a saying that still has meaning today. People always have been supportive of the saying and for those who didn’t know records were also called vinyl it gave them a little history lesson they also agreed was important. My dad still wears his shirts and kids always ask him about it.

Amoeblog: Did you sell graffiti gear as well as DJ stuff and general hip-hop music?

DJ Cue:  We sold pens and spray can tips for awhile. It was something we just didn’t get much traction on. I think that wasn’t so much a market at the time for us. I think most of our writers found a way to get what they needed.

Amoeblog: How did The Cue's Hip Hop Shop compilation reflect the shop?

DJ Cue: The compilation reflected what I had envisioned as the shop on wax. If you listen to the album it shows what we sold and the feeling as well with different styles of MC’s and the DJ sets as well. Many people never made it out to the shop but were able to get an idea of it from the album.

Amoeblog: How many records have you personally put out?
DJ Cue:
I honestly don’t know but probably half a dozen. I’ve done work with people just on the strength and don’t really trip off credit. I don’t consider break beat albums as real albums like some folks.

Amoeblog: Do you think you might ever reopen the Cue's store?

DJ Cue: I don’t know if I would open Cue’s again as it was. Most likely I would open something that reflected where I am in my life and I’ve worked in I.T. for the last seven years now so it would have to be something technical that has to do with DJ’s as well. I have some ideas I’ve been working on with my business friends and they all agree its time to get back to running my own business and using what I know to make a difference in the industry. I worked at Lucas Film for five years and learned so much about I.T. and business that it makes me feel much more confident about the way I want to run things nowadays.

Amoeblog: What can people expect at Saturday's BBQ?

DJ Cue:
People can expect to see some great DJ’s and have some good times catching up with people who used to shop there and also see their new family members. Marz will be on the grill so be prepared for some good food. The music will be good since we have a diverse set of DJ’s. There will be a live graf piece being done as well. Also we will be selling Cue’s “Keep Vinyl Alive” shirts. They are limited so its basically a one time re-issue for now unless we sell out right away. There are different colors to match your shoes

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Dj Marz (7), Cue's Records Reunion Bbq (1), Cue's Records (3), Dj Quest (54), Dj Cue (18)