Fat Beats: The End Of An Era

I went to Fat Beats once, and ended up buying three Percee P albums for $20.

Mind you, Percee wasn’t employed there, nor were any of his CDs on the store’s shelves. Nope, Percee was standing in front of the steps that led up to the store (which is/was, oddly enough, now placed in one of the least hip-hop locales I can think of, but more on that later) pushing off his catalog directly from his Jansport (what’s a North Face?). As I was walking down the block he recognized me from when we spoke at Rock The Bells a few months prior, and I was inexplicably compelled to buy his albums.

Good luck trying to get me to buy your anything nowadays, aspiring rapsters.

Anyways, Percee P was Fat Beats in the flesh: a hip hop entity that made a living through an independent state of mind. With the physical stores set to close its doors before the end of September, it marks the end of an era of a self-sufficient form of music distribution that first started as an alternative to the major label doldrums, erupted into popularity during the Rawkus era and struggled to survive during the digital turnover before finally deciding to cease operations at its physical locations.

We shouldn’t be surprised at Fat Beats pulling the plug on its stores; it’s been happening for years now, from labels shutting down all the way to major record stores kicking the bucket. Hell, I can’t even tell you the last time a saw a Wherehouse store in Los Angeles, and New York City is peppered with empty shells that used to be Tower Records shops. Various variables can be attributed to its demise, from competition from the Best Buys and Targets of the world selling the same music at much lower costs, to constantly rising price of their own CDs to keep up.

It’s much cheaper to keep things at a digital level as well, which is what Fat Beats – now calling itself FB Distribution – is planning on doing. iTunes is now outpointing virtually all physical sales in nearly every aspect of the music game and, well, sites like BandCamp and *ahem* mine are making things (unfortunately?) easier for any ol’ rapster to push off their wares. Still, there’s nothing quite like being in an actual store, with it’s promotional paraphernalia, deejays and general atmosphere being something no digital store could ever duplicate.

I’ll miss Fat Beats, especially because I was never able to find that More Fish promotional t-shirt in my size (random, but I’m actually being serious). Hopefully Percee P will find a place to push off his products as well.

  • http://www.bboycult.com Don mcCaine

    “Still, there’s nothing quite like being in an actual store, with it’s promotional paraphernalia, deejays and general atmosphere being something no digital store could ever duplicate.”

    ^ Reminds me of that Bruce Willis movie with the virtual bodies.

  • http://ratherunique.bandcamp.com RU210

    I wish I could’ve gone Fat Beats

  • Otto

    Man, I’m so against buying music digitally. If I buy something, I want to be able to feel it. If it’s in CD/LP format and it’s dope, I’ll most likely end up buying it, especially if it’s released on vinyl.

  • ri067953

    Man, I used to work at a Warehouse store on Hawthorne and Artesia in Torrance, Ca. back in the day. Best job I ever had. I got to bullshit about music all day and every night we closed the store we would roll doobies and crack 40 oz. in the parking lot. Believe it or not, that joint is still there. One of the last Warehouse stores left in L.A. county.

  • Jason

    yeah I rather buy the CDs than on iTunes.
    They cost about the same, and you get more with it, and just upload it onto your ipod.

    Anyway, can your next blogpost be about Lil’ Wayne. Not really about Jail, but if you like him or ever have, favorite “era” of Lil Wayne and why you continuously post him on your blog.

    Personally I used to be a really big fan of him, and now he makes pretty good songs once in a while.

  • Crimealdi

    My personal best Fat Beat memory…during the Rawkus, indie ‘eruption’ of the late 90′s, digging through stacks of amazing underground records (half of the artists I never heard of, because you couldn’t find their music everywhere on the internet). All of a sudden the house DJ (some short Asian kid) throws on MOPs “Down 4 Whateva” with OC. It was me and like 15 other heads in the place and our necks snapped to the beat all at the same time, like in a cartoon or sumthin….RIP Fat Beats!

  • angel

    funny i just posted on fb today how i missed going to tower records on tuesdays and picking up new music.
    damm i miss the record shops.

  • swype-matic

    “Still, there’s nothing quite like being in an actual store, with it’s promotional paraphernalia, deejays and general atmosphere being something no digital store could ever duplicate.”

    ^^^No doubt. As long as record stores exist, I’LL still be goin’ there. Plus, most real local/underground artists are slow to go digital anyway. There’s nothin’ like that atmosphere and opening the cd package, even though it takes like 20min to open it.

  • jay

    co-sign all these comments. I only buy singles of itunes to support the artists I like but ain’t nothing like that feeling of struggling to wrap off the plastic on your cd just to pop it in and bump it front to back – meanwhile reading all the credits and shout-outs and admiring the photos and album cover. NOTHING LIKE THAT FEELING