Record Label: Redefinition Records
Redefinition Records is known mostly for working with some of the best and brightest artists in hip-hop from underground legends to certified veterans, but this release marks the first time the NJ/DC based indie label ventured into new territory, literally, by teaming up with Germany’s Klaus Layer for the release of his debut album, The Adventures of Captain Crook.
Klaus Layer, aka Captain Crook, was always interested in eastern German art and music, but it was the fall of the Berlin Wall that truly opened up new opportunities for him to explore a wider range of art and foreign cultures. Klaus was born in Oranienburg, Germany, and while his preference for 90’s hip-hop music and the influence of a local graffiti scene can be seen and heard in his work, he has his own distinct identity as a creator. Klaus cites artists like Michael Hamel, Günther Fischer, Can, Pete Rock, Damu the Fudgemunk and Lord Finesse as sources of inspiration, just as much as he does the Surrealist style of art as well as the audio & visuals found in old movies from the 50s-70s. All of Layer’s different influences, along with some non-traditional sampling resources have somehow been morphed together via his instrument of choice, a sampler, into a unique style of instrumental music full of rich layers, including all sorts of percussive and melodic patterns. The Adventures of Captain Crook is a stunning album, full of beautiful melodies, expertly chopped samples and neck snapping drums, that only seems to get better with each listen. While the album is mostly instrumental, one of today’s best and brightest MC’s, Blu, shows up on not one but two tracks with show-stealing verses on the LP’s two vocal tracks, including the fan favorite “Illest In Charge” and “Come Back” which also features New World Color’s Scienze (of Divine Scienze). This is an album that will stand the test of time and one that defines the label’s motto of Quality Over Quantity.
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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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