The Beat Goes On: 16 Years of Fat Beats

The legendary Fat Beats is closing its New York and Los Angeles doors after 16 years of holding it down as the "Last Stop for Hip Hop."

It’s hard to think of independent Hip Hop without thinking about Fat Beats. Although the store franchise may not be the powerhouse it once was a decade ago, it’s become almost a time capsule of an era when Hip Hop was a concrete entity and not just something you could find by searching Google. But to quote Biggie, “Damn, shit done changed.” Now, after 16 years of raucous in-store performances, late night employee cipher sessions and on-air shout-outs from Stretch & Bobbito, the legendary Fat Beats will close its New York and Los Angeles stores this September 4 and 18, respectively.

For true heads, Fat Beats was a musical Mecca. The walls were lined with row after row of hard to find 12”s and LPs. Hip Hop luminaries like DJ Premier and Q-Tip frequented the store not only as performers but also as customers. The friendly atmosphere of the store was a far cry from the impersonality of cult complex-sized chains like Best Buy and Borders. It was a safe haven for people who listened to J Dilla before it was cool and believed in the revolutionary notion that mixtapes ought to include some degree of mixing.

Now, Fat Beats finds itself the victim of a commercial knee capping courtesy of the Internet. And while the Fat Beats brand with live on through their online store and their widely successful label, what we lose in the closing of the stores is a vibrant history of a tangible culture that is becoming increasingly digitalized.


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