In the heart of downtown, on the West side of Peachtree Street, 50 feet from The Underground and The Five Points Marta Station, in between the Metro Mall where temp fades are $15 and gold teeth are manufactured: The Funk Shop at 73 Peachtree Street stands tall. A window store front sealed by a steel garage door on a squeaky pulley secured by a silver master padlock and a 10 foot chain opens to the articulately up state accent of a black business owner, who’s full of life and lessons.
The minute the door of the storefront opens, a neighborhood native, j-walking across Peachtree and Alabama Street hollers, “Slick Rick! What happenin playa!” The two men’s hands meet for a signature handshake followed by another hand gesture ATL-liens refer to as givin' dap. Ricardo“Slick Rick” Fludd greets the man as if he’s a regular “What’s up big dog!” as he proceeds to prepare the store for a day of music lovers. Atlanta, April 12 2:43pm.
Behind an enclosed glass shelf, surrounded by hundreds of “We Miss you Bank Roll Fresh” cd’s, “World Star Hip Hop Soundtrack” mix-tapes and “Atlanta’s Most Wanted 3” DVDs, Fludd rearranges his set up as he sips from 2 white Styrofoam cups.
“Come on to the FUNK SHOP!” Fludd yells out into the street. What’s poppin! Welcome to real life. You live at the FONK Shop Baby. Check me out! Hottest thing poppin in the streets! Can I cuss?”
Busy middle aged men buzz around the shop talking fast with a southern drawl and walking even faster with one goal; conjuring a plan to make their next dollar. A young mother hurries down the sidewalk with one hand on the handle of a stroller while the other tugs the arm of a four year old girl in her school uniform. The chaotic atmosphere says that everyone has somewhere to be within the next 10 minutes. However, Fludd is standing on the floor of his destination leaning down to catch the light of the sky as he proceeds to explain his reasoning behind the name of his store.
“The name came from the 2 Live Crew!”
“What did you admire about the artistry of Luke Sky Walker’s music?”
“He’s an American Hero! During the 90’s, you know he had to go to court for the rights to say the kind of things he was saying in music due to censorship. So now every time you see a CD that has parental advisory it’s from that era where he had to go to the Supreme Court to fight for rights for free speech. He’s a big Hero. He won the case. He might be whatever whatever to most people, but he fought for his rights to include profanity and explicit lyrics in rap music that you hear today.”
What some may see as the hood, others see the magic engraved in the heart of this neighborhood. A historic area and landmark for tourist, that stands strong after many years among the New York style store front buildings hosting lofts on their roofs and welcoming hustlers to linger on the sidewalks. There is a special swag about this side of town that you can’t find anywhere else.
“First of all this is Five Points. Right here we get a lot of culture. You know, you have a lot of foot traffic. As they say in business, and in real estate, the most important thing is location, location, location. If you find the right location that is conducive to people and convenient to people you’re going to get patronized.”“What’s so special about this location?”“We are the hub of the city. You have buses, the trains, college students. Everything comes within a half a mile of me.”
Like magnets, from 2pm to 5pm, whether they are purchasing the newest mix-tape or just stopping by to see Slick Rick , people can’t walk down the Five Points sidewalk without stopping by the Funk Shop. There is a uniqueness about this music store that’s impossible to match.
“Throughout the years music shifts location from popularity. In the past it was New York. You had Texas, you had the West Coast…now Atlanta is just poppin’ right now. So the fact that I provide this service is only because of the demand they require. If people did not want to buy music I wouldn’t be here.”
At the peak of the afternoon people rush out of MARTA like a flood of rain. Hustlers continue to walk the sidewalks, workers run in and out of businesses on their lunch break and Fludd prepares to close up the shop early.
“As the ONLY black entrepreneur and business man from Five Points to Midtown, I still believe, music is still a hot item, a hot seller and artist thrive on what sales. I’m just providing the service that people need. If they stop buying music then I won’t be here any longer, but until they do, I’m here to stay.”