Evidence "To Be Continued" live @ Fat Beats LA on Friday Sept 17th 2010
Two weekends ago the Fat Beats retail store in New York City closed shop for good and today the Fat Beats store in LA will follow suit. And while the shuttering of this longtime SoCal meeting ground for hip-hop fans and artists is most definitely a sad day, the good folks at Fat Beats are going out on a high celebratory note rather than a just a downer tearful farewell. Today's final day for the LA Fat Beats on Melrose is the culmination of a week and a half long series of music industry panels and energized instore performances that included Ras Kass, Dilated Peoples, Evidence (solo, as in video above from Friday), Bishop Lamont, Kurupt, Mellow Man Ace, and 2Mex (as seen in video below from last weekend), with a day long DJ showcase featuring J Rocc, Rhettmatic, DJ Revolution, and other turntable manipulators throughout today.
Don't miss it if you are the LA area! Allow time to get in, as the relatively small space will quickly get crowded. Two weekends ago at the September 4th closing of Fat Beats on Sixth Ave in Greenwich Village, NY, it was so crazy that myself and another two or three hundred fans, who arrived late in the afternoon, got stuck outside listening to the music blaring out the windows of the second floor store. Like the closing of the NYC Fat Beats, the closing of the LA store is more than simply some retail space closing down. It is the loss of an important community common ground, a local hip-hop institution that lovers of the genre gravitated towards and where, it seemed, there was always some must-see instore performance.
I talked by phone with Joe Abajian, the owner of Fat Beats, who said about the closing, "Hip-hop is a culture and we were a part of that culture and I think that's what people are going to miss the most." I asked him what his one regret was with the closing of the Fat Beats stores (note that the brand will still continue as an online store and a record label). "I feel we didn't exploit all the opportunities that we have to keep the store open. But it would require a lot more work than we're used to, to keep the store going. If I had some finances and a little bit of time I would be able to keep the store in its current format. And while it may not be extremely successful, I think it would be able to maintain," he said. As for running a record store in the current digital file download age, Abajian stressed, "To attract people to come to the store, it's an uphill battle. With the economy and the way things are it's hard to get people to come out when they feel they can get somewhat of the same satisfaction right in their house."
Less understanding and forgiving of this situation was DJ and longtime hip-hop ambassador and owner of defunct vinyl only record label Fondle Em, Bobbito Garcia. When I asked him his take on the closing of Fat Beats in both NY and LA, he said, "While Fat Beats' website will keep the banner moving forward, having the physical store locations close is indeed a blow to the community. We need places to congregate and see each other, converse, share records, etc. Everything can't be online; it becomes impersonal and insular. Hip-hop was never about that. I am one of the most vocal and visible DJs in the world who still to this day only plays vinyl in my sets, and 90% wax for casual listening at home. The hip-hop world who has converted to Serato and digital files should not say a peep about being sad to see Fat Beats close. They are themselves to blame. No diss on no one, just keeping it real!"
Fat Beats LA's final day is today. The store will be open from noon to 8pm with DJ sets from J Rocc, Rhettmatic, DJ Revolution, Julio G, C-Minus, Mr Choc, DJ Jedi, Inka One, and Sean O. For more information, visit www.FatBeats.com.
2Mex last weekend at the beginning of the farewell to Fat Beats LA instores