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Perhaps no other album of the '90s musically exhibits the shift in the hip-hop ethos that occurred in 1993 better than Black Moon's classic gemstone Enta da Stage. Listen to this album and you can hear hip-hop change. Prior to this, many of hip-hop's most confrontational vibes were presented as gifts from bellicose outfits like Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and other acts whose music raged. Enta da Stage features enough of that, but it also offered, perhaps even introduced, a brooding vibe. It was a pioneer sound. The group released "Who Got the Props" in the winter of 1992, about a year before the album dropped in November of 1993. It was a song in the same vein of Onyx's "Throw Ya Gunz," a hard track, with rough rhymes and a staple-NYC hook with a chorus of rowdy b-boys shouting in unison. The album featured similar tracks, from "Make Munne" to "Son Get Wrec" to "Buck Em Down" to the opener, "Powaful Impak!" -- all time-capsule tunes that embody early-'90s NYC hip-hop. The album begins like it was meant to be a Brooklyn version of Bacdafucup. But months prior to the album's release, Black Moon's second single, "How Many MC's...," hit the streets. It was a total departure from the vibe present on "Who Got da Props." DJ Evil Dee and da Beatminerz supplied a subtly horrific track over which Buckshot premiered a more deliberate flow that bespoke controlled menace. There is a story behind this transformation. Buckshot said he, Evil Dee, and the 5Ft Accelerator recorded half of the album -- the "Who Got da Props" half -- in 1992 before he went on tour with Kool G Rap and a young Nasty Nas. During a freestyle cipher, listening to Nas and Kool G Rap led Buckshot to an epiphany that motivated him to switch up his rhyme-style, and da Beatminerz tweaked their production to complement. The "How Many MC's..." half of the album -- songs like "I Gotcha Opin," "Slave," "Shit Iz Real" -- displayed Buckshot's new motif: a raspier tone, a more intricate flow and cadence, and a serious presence that was just as threatening as the temperamental MC on the earlier songs. The rowdy crew hooks gave way to what were more like stripped down musical breaks that often featured a jazz horn sample and nothing else. The production -- which should enter into any discussion of the greatest hip-hop production efforts of all time -- was every bit as radical as what the RZA introduced this same year or the Bomb Squad cooked up in the late '80s. The elements existed before, but never had they been synthesized into a hardcore East Coast outfit with the skill and artistry of Black Moon's Enta da Stage. The release of this album was overshadowed by the landmark Wu-Tang Clan debut and the popular success of Midnight Marauders and Doggystyle. But make no mistake, this is one of the '90s most important hip-hop classics, an album that deserves its own node on the hip-hop timeline.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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