Find the right music for your ears at The Album

Emmanuel Flemister

Whether you’re looking for a classic or something new, The Album, a local Lexington record store, can guarantee that for you. 

Entering, you walk down an elaborate set of stairs covered with lights and the unmatched ancient art of the hip-hop culture, graffiti. Music, posters, stickers, and signatures in chalk cover the walls, creating an intimate environment. Inside you will meet “the gatekeeper,” Sami Ibrahim. 

The Album has been around for about 11 years. Born in Chicago and living in Kuwait for a period of his life, Ibrahim moved to Lexington with his older brother and graduated from UK in 1995. While enrolled he spent time exploring his love for music by becoming a DJ at WRFL-FM, even DJing for local parties on the side. 

“As long as there was music involved, I didn’t care, I just wanted to be around it” Ibrahim said. 

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With dedication and true love for music, Ibrahim worked his way up from DJ to Music Director at the station. After college, he worked for several record stores around Lexington until one day, being a man of bigger dreams, he decided he wanted to open his own. 

“I was 27 with dead end jobs and wanted more for myself,” Ibrahim said.

With years of experience working with music, he knew what direction he needed go in, he just needed the push. 

There’s a saying that behind every strong man is a strong woman, and for Ibrahim that was his mother. Upon a visit to his then apartment, his mother saw more records than anything else and helped turn his dream into a reality. She loaned him $10,000 to find a place, which was an apartment the landlord let him zone into a business. 

Just like that Sami’s Music was born, but Ibrahim quickly discovered how much of a commitment his business would be. Hanging with friends and going on dates were almost non-existent. Ibrahim would barely even have $10 to live off for an entire day at times. At one point he even sold his apartment and began sleeping in the storage room of the store to save money. 

“I never once lost faith in the store, and I never thought I would have to close it either,” Ibrahim said. 

After his first year keeping the business afloat, he paid his mother back the $10,000 she loaned him plus $2,000 as a generous thank you. Despite the business’s growth he still finished his first year in the negative, however the following year he ended up with $5,000 in profit. 

Sami’s Music remained open for six years before Ibrahim relocated across the street to open The Album. The store showcases art and clothes made by local artists along with performances from local musicians free of charge. Ibrahim also offers open mic nights on Thursdays for local talent to test out their skills in front of an intimate audience. 

“I couldn’t do this without the locals,” Ibrahim said.