Record Label: Geffen Records
Typically, we're better off ignoring the boasts of a rapper who claims to describe his own music, but when the Roots' lead voice Black Thought opens up his group's debut album by saying, "You are all about to witness some organic hip-hop jazz," it's a good idea to listen up. Organic is a fitting adjective for a hip-hop crew whose m.o. is as different from the typical studio-locked DJ/MC combo as grass is to Astroturf.
Nothing wrong with a little artificial grazeland, of course, but the Roots are making tasty roughage that blooms into real songs, where raps wind around bass, drums, keys, and horns, and where instruments coil up to voice cadences--where music and lyrics meet and grow together naturally, not coincidentally. You can hear the Roots' heart pump hardest when they pull off the things loops and samples cannot: just check the vocal/instrument interchanges of "Essaywhuman?!!!??!" or the left-turn instrumental digression midway through "Mellow My Man" to witness the living sounds of rap.
The Roots' Philadelphia-based groove collective build slick acid jazz playing around the smooth East Coast rhyming of A Tribe Called Quest and wild West Coast freestyling to create sounds as formless and fluid as jazz, but never unrecognizable as hip-hop. The music picks up where the mad scatting and melodic trills of L.A.'s defunct Freestyle Fellowship left off, and wakes up the tired hype of jazz/rap cross-polination to new possibilities. The roots of this kind of fusion have long been around, though perhaps these Roots are hope for a new dawning. --Roni Sarig
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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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Fat Beats offers internship opportunities. You must be enrolled in college and reside in the Los Angeles area to be eligible for our programs. If you meet these requirements, please paste your cover letter below and we will contact you if there are open positions available.
We are currently offering an internship program that offers an educational experience in all facets of our distribution operation. The intern would have the ability to assist in each of the following departments:
Online Retail / Marketing
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- Enrollment in an accredited college/university that offers an internship program for academic credit
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Resumes/Cover Letters should be emailed to email@example.com