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10 Reasons Music Lovers Should Avoid Urban Outfitters

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Courtesy Flickr user Casey Hugelfink
We all know it, but it's time to show it. Urban Outfitters is a creative wasteland, a shortsighted cul-de-sac of trends and trash culture bent for capital gain -- one large, unthinking slab of cultural masturbation. But, by and large, it's a beast we feed. Like creepers to a drug deal we lurch in, grab what we want and dart out. (Some of their basic clothing isn't half bad, right?).

See also: 10 Best Record Stores in Metro Phoenix

Excuses aside, the inventory is laughable, shamelessly anachronistic and inauthentic. Musically speaking, it's the sort of faux-hippie, yuppie detritus that's fueled a million Dark Side-only Pink Floyd fans. Here are 10 of the worst examples of why UO is a drain on our music-loving souls.

1. It sells turntables that will eat your records.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
In fact, it sells only record-destroying players. The Crosley tables -- equipped with uneven speeds and ruinous ceramic cartridges -- aren't really listening tools. They are toys. Cutesy, retro-chic, vinyl-hungry toys. Given that your albums won't last long on that new turntable, it's comforting to know that you can replace your LPs at UO, too. It's a good thing that their prices are fair . . . Oh, gad, wait. 2. Its record prices are an assault on your financial well-being.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
Even if you ignore for the moment that its records are terribly treated and poorly stored, UO's prices are astronomical. Singles will cost you upwards of $20. And my goodness, double LPs -- even shitty ones -- can cost you $40. This means if your monthly music budget is $150 (we're allowed to dream), you can still only buy about five albums a month. Those are prison cafeteria-type rates. Yay, hip vinyl trend!

3. Now you can coordinate the Unknown Pleasures artwork with the rest of your outfit.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
Sweaters and shirts in a dozen colors and styles, all slathered with the iconic Joy Division radio waves, blanket UO's interior. Hell, it's almost the store's corporate symbol at this point. Ian Curtis would be so proud.

 

4. According to UO, John Coltrane is the only jazz musician ever born.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
Don't get me wrong, Coltrane was a genius. But there were and are other geniuses in jazz. Arguably even better ones. From shirts and posters to UO's narrow LP selection, Coltrane is essentially the only jazz player represented here. I'm not saying ditch the Trane, but I'd just like to see some of those duplicates of A Love Supreme replaced with some Coleman, Mingus, or Sun Ra.

5. If you're dead, famous, and a musician, then you're also a shirt at Urban Outfitters.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
Hendrix, Elvis, Biggie, Tupac, Marley, Cobain: They're all images constantly recycled at UO. Certainly, these figureheads are worthy of remembrance, but perpetual commercial re-appropriation has to be one of the absolute worst ways to go about it. Considering these artists' reputations are directly tied to cultural memory, it's a dangerous practice to continually reuse and abuse their likenesses in ways that are grossly out of context. 6. Even non-musical celebrities are exhumed and made-up like musicians.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
The perversion might not be full-on Orwell's Ministry of Truth, but it's not far off. At the very least, this is a mockery of Lee's disciplined legacy and a trivialization of the DJ art form. Granted, he may well have been a mean DJ, but that's beside the point.

 

7. At Urban outfitters, rap ended in 1996.

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Photo courtesy Jonathan Patrick
Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, Notorious B.I.G., Dre, Tupac . . . the list goes on and on. Save for a few exceptions, anything and everything concerning rap at UO ends with gangsta rap's golden days. There's no backpack-era underground stuff (think Kool Keith, Company Flow), and there's certainly no substantial show of Southern rap (Lil Wayne, Ludacris) or nu-rap. I think I might have seen a Kanye West and/or Outkast item -- so at least they snuck some conscious, white-friendly rappers in there, too. 8. With respect to hip-hop, Urban Outfitters is a graveyard.

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
At UO, hip-hop culture is reduced to drug abuse, death, and incarceration. Jail bars, skulls, and unsavory quotes are the barebones surface features that represent rap at Urban Outfitters. Worst of all, practically every piece of hip-hop merchandise offered here highlights -- nearly glorifies -- death. Yes, we get it: Lots of rappers died in virtue of their craft. But this is something to mourn, not glorify.

 

9. WTF!?

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick
Oh, man, I don't even know where to begin with this one. 10. And . . . this

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Courtesy of Jonathan Patrick


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