Showing posts with label DJ Scratch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DJ Scratch. Show all posts

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fat Beats closing ceremonies: The end of an era

Outside Fat Beats during the closing ceremonies
This website is normally dedicated to baseball, but I feel as many of you have seen card shops close across the country that you would feel this one.

Labeled "The Last Stop for Hip Hop", Fat Beats served as the mecca for hip hop fans, DJ's and collectors. A legendary fixture in New York City on 6th Avenue, right near the famous West 4th Street basketball courts, hip hop "heads" would often gather to purchase the latest hip hop record and discuss who was next to blow up on the scene.

The inner walls of the store covered with autographed photos and posters of the many artists who graced the store during their record release celebrations. The names on the wall are too many to mention, but it reads like a "Who's Who" of hip hop. On any given day, you could run into a significant artist, DJ or producer who would stop by while they were in New York to see what was new in the "underground". If you wanted a hip hop 12" or CD by an artist large or small, chances are they had it. Customers would often come in with playlists from radio shows such as the Stretch and Bobbito Show or the Halftime Radio show and purchase every single record that was played on the airwaves. The fans demand it and they kept the fiends coming back every week for more. You better have acted quickly though because any record worth its salt didn't stay on the racks too long.

A look at the ceiling of Fat Beats
As digital forms of music began to dominate the market, trends saw a shift away from consumers, especially DJ's buying vinyl records. They now opted for MP3's which worked in their Serato programs that much more neatly held all of their music on a hard drive instead of bulky crates of records. CD sales tanked just as quickly as vinyl and Fat Beats felt the impact of a declining consumer base. Even though it managed to outlast such megastores as Tower Records, it couldn't continue to provide the services of a physical store with the decline in revenue.

This past week had an All-Star lineup of DJ's, MC's and producers performing to celebrate the institution that Fat Beats had become. I attended the closing ceremonies on Saturday September 4, 2010 that included performances by DJ Scratch of EPMD, DJ Spinna, Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul and DJ Premier of Gangstarr. It was fitting that Premier closed out the week-long celebration, as he epitomized the essence of hip hop and vinyl. DJ's across the country immersed themselves in vinyl due to his work and have their crates full of his productions.

DJ Premier rocks the final set at Fat Beats
Its closing represented an end of an era. I had been shopping there since 1999 and I quickly relived the last 11 years of my involvement in radio, DJ'ing and the industry. No longer will there be a central place for "heads" to gather and discuss the culture, find out about local events and take a chance on spending $5 on that artist whose vinyl still remains a go-to record in your crates over a decade later. The chances of another place opening that represented the purity of a culture that roped in my generation to hip-hop is unlikely and it is for that I dedicate this post to Fat Beats. Fat Beats will still remain open online and continue to provide those who thirst for the music an opportunity to get their fix. I don't know how much the current generation will care about its closing, or pine for a hub to replace it, but for many who went through our era of experiencing hip hop emerge, this serves as a reminder that as much as we want to hold on to seasons of the past, the forces of nature will leave us behind as it writes its next chapter. Consider this one closed. RIP Fat Beats.

Caron Wheeler Performing Keep On Movin' At Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Caron Wheeler Singing Back To Life at Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.