Fat Beats is Saying Goodbye w/ In-store DJ Sets | DJ Shiftee Reflects

Legendary independent hip hop record store Fat Beats is shutting down the doors to its New York (September 4th) and Los Angeles (September 18th) stores this week, with a celebration – a series of performances from vets, legends, pioneers, deejays and emcees paying tribute to the beloved spot known as “The Last Stop For Hip Hop!” The New York store, which is located at 406 6th Ave. bet. 8th & 9th St., will be graced with performances and appearances by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, DJ Scratch, Bobbito, Tony Touch, Neil Armstrong, Da Beatminerz, Sadat X, Immortal Technique, Ras Kass, and A-Trak – just of a few of the names on schedule. Check the entire schedule below:

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DJ Shiftee Remembers Fat Beats

Fat Beats has always been a special place for me. During my teenage years, my friend Mike & I would take the train in from Westchester every weekend we could, specifically to go to Fat Beats. The ritual was: trek over to the store, cop the coolest and most obscure records we could find (I was personally always worried about buying stuff that the store clerks wouldn’t think was lame), and then top it off with a Grey’s Papaya hot dog special. We saw hip hop juggernauts like DJ Boo from the Juggernauts, Wordsworth, and Percee P (I bought his CD out front). I treated the whole place with a timid reverence, knowing I was at the epicenter of Hip Hop in its purest form.

Beyond this, Fat Beats holds a paramount position in my career as a DJ. Why? I didn’t own any records until I went to Fat Beats! Shortly after buying my first set of turntables (Bar Mitzvah money FTW), I traveled by car with my father into Manhattan to try to scope out some records. I knew what I wanted: Hip Hop, and not just any Hip Hop. I wanted underground/backpack Hip Hop, dirty lyrical boom bap Hip Hop, the kind of Hip Hop I listened to for hours on end in my suburban home. Neither of us had much of a clue where to go, so we roamed aimlessly into a shop that had some LPs on the wall. The presence of a long-haired, middle-aged clerk should have warned us, but this particular store only had vintage Rock records. Was I going to spend my years dropping Led Zeppelin tribute sets? Well, only time will tell. But! We asked the guy behind the counter where we could find some Hip Hop, and he sent us to Fat Beats.

Now, this is kind of like wandering the desert and all of a sudden receiving directions to a nearby water park. OR walking many days in ill-fitting high heels, and then suddenly looking down to see New Balances with Thorlos and Dr. Scholl’s on your feet. OR eating normal sandwiches your whole life, and then finally eating a sandwich made by me. It was mind-blowing. When we approached the store, I saw the Fat Beats sign atop the entry way leading to worn grey stairs, and the giant album covers up above in the windows. I darted up the steps with nervousness and excitement. I opened the door . . . and everywhere I looked . . . there were records. Records and records and records. A few I knew, most I didn’t. Neither did I recognize the infectious track playing over the speakers. However, I did know that I had indeed found what I was looking for.

I bought maybe 5 records, singles of each (I didn’t know beat juggling from circus juggling at this stage in the game). The only one whose title I remember is Fatlip’s “What’s up, Fatlip?” I also replaced my thick blue velvet slipmats from Sam Ash with crisp new white Fat Beats slipmats. Believe it or not, I actually still use the same slipmats today!

I got home and taped the Fat Beats shopping bag to my wall. I may have left without many records in hand, but I left knowing I’d be back many, many times to come!

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