- Title: Jimmy the vinyl man of Nairobi.
- Date: 3rd January 2017
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VINYL RECORDS VENDOR, JAMES 'JIMMY' RUGAMI PULLING RECORDS OUT OF AN OVERHEAD SHELF VARIOUS OF JIMMY GOING THROUGH RECORDS ON SHELF VARIOUS OF RECORDS AND RECORD SLEEVES AND POSTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) VINYL RECORDS VENDOR, JAMES 'JIMMY' RUGAMI SAYING: "I couldn't stop collecting records for some reason I was always perturbed by piracy and I always hated anything that is not original. As you know vinyl is the most original way of playing music. So I kept on buying and buying everywhere, every time I found records I couldn't resist the urge of buying." JIMMY SORTING THROUGH VINYL RECORDS
- Embargoed: 18th January 2017 16:25
- Keywords: Vinyl Record Music James Rugami Digital Music Disc Jockey Piracy Jimmy
- Location: NAIROBI, KENYA
- City: NAIROBI, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Music
- Reuters ID: LVA0015XJ0KT3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:In the 80's, James 'Jimmy' Rugami was the DJ who played an eclectic mix of music spanning local benga and Swahili pop to Congolese dance and Afro-Cuban classics with a touch of Lionel Ritchie.
Jimmy, now in his 60's doesn't play the disco scene anymore but since 1989 he has amassed a vinyl record collection that would be the envy of any music enthusiast.
He now spends his days here, surrounded by rows and columns of old records bought or traded from far flung locations across Africa that he got to by car, by bus and by boat to places like Zanzibar, which he says had the best jazz.
"I couldn't stop collecting records for some reason I was always perturbed by piracy and I always hated anything that is not original. As you know vinyl is the most original way of playing music. So I kept on buying and buying everywhere, every time I found records I couldn't resist the urge of buying," he said.
Nairobi used to be East Africa's entertainment hotspot.
International record labels such as Polygram and EMI signed bands from Kenya, Tanzania and the former Zaire, such as Orchestra Virunga, Daudi Kabaka and Simba Wanyika.
State of the art recording studios and a vinyl press located on the outskirts if Nairobi released diverse genres of music, the most characteristic pop sound being benga from Western Kenya and the Congolese rumba sound of the 70's known as Soukous.
But most of the major record labels closed shop as Kenya's economy struggled in the 90's and training and rehearsal spaces became inadequate.
Recording studios and mastering facilities moved to South Africa.
Demand for vinyl, in Kenya and in other parts of the world has since given way to cassette tapes, then CDs, then online digital sources and only a few collectors with the right players still buy his records.
"As you can see today, all music shops are kind of closed. It's because of technology which we can't fight because you guys only download music from the internet and you don't buy anymore," said Jimmy.
Jimmy can go a whole week with just one customer, but he says he doesn't really care about the money.
There are vinyl lovers that have become Jimmy's good friends and he still DJs at family events, sometimes at schools - sharing his history in music with the young and old.
"I use an old Sony record player and I really like using old vinyl records because I really enjoy the old stuff," said one customer.
Jimmy says he is excited by a rekindling of love for old music and sound, especially among the youth.
In fact, global sales of vinyl records have reached their highest level for 20 years and could be on track to return to the glory days of the Long Player in the late 1980s, according to music industry findings in the UK.
A lot of Jimmy's friends and family thought he was crazy when he spent all his savings on records in 1986 but 30 years later, having educated his six children through this business he says it has been worth every minute of ridicule.
"I have been labelled insane by lots of folks because of sticking to vinyl. Some even come back much much later and tell me 'Oh! I think whatever you're doing is cool.' The same people who said 'What's wrong with this man, what is this he is keeping crap while we are going ahead,' well I am also in digital, so I'm relevant," said Jimmy.
Jimmy's stall number 570 is hidden away in a popular meat market where only those that are looking will find him. He also restores and sells vintage record players.
Fans of vinyl say it offers a richer sound than its digital successors, despite the occasional crackles caused by scratches or dust on the records.
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