In a new urban development on the far west side of Detroit, Florida, it's mandated by a 5 to 4 city council vote that a new housing structure be erected that has both luxury condominium units available for private ownership and section 7 housing in the same building. Via separate entrances the Cavanaugh building services two very different populations. And though the lifestyles of the residents vary, each unit relies on the same system of pipes and wiring and are serviced by the same crew. Mike and Dave have a combined 14 years of experience in Cavanaugh maintenance. They usually work drunk, mumbling greetings to the residents, soaking up all the disdain that the higher and lower income inhabitants have for each other. They talk shit to each other all day. Complaining about their home lives, spinning passive aggressive tales where they pretend to be angrier, stronger, more expressive men. produced by open mike eaglemixed by commitee. inquire within for detailsmastered by daddy kevcover photos by stephen eichornn
Limited to 100 copies, exclusive to Fat Beats and Mello Music Group's webstores.If there’s a secret to time travel, Kool Keith owns the patent. Even a flying DeLorean seems too conventional for the Bronx legend. He’d more logically orbit throughout the galaxy in a gleaming chrome spaceship, teaching the stars and aliens new forms of originality. He is too weird to live, too rare to die, too uniquely ultra-magnetic to be accurately mimicked. Released on Mello Music Group, Time? Astonishing! is the latest dimensional warp from hip-hop’s premiere astral traveler. His union with MMG producer L’ Orange finds him exploring uncharted terrain: choppy volcanic rock planets, ice glacier moons, new surgical procedures, and fresh rappers to toss into the ether. The scalpel remains eternally sharp. The themes aren’t dissimilar from his past opuses as Dr. Octagon and Black Elvis. But L’ Orange’s production appropriately coaxes the most appealingly baffling gonzo vision from Keith since his days collaborating with Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. This isn’t the noir-rap of L’Orange’s previous work, but something atmospheric, ethereal, and absurd. Yet there’s a sense of tradition within the playfulness. The beats glow with radioactive grit. Hard enough to knock from your car speakers, cinematic and plutonium-propelled enough to transport you to strange terra firma. Buck Rodgers movie serials meet boom-bap. And along for the odyssey are a cast of the best underground MC’s of the last decade: Blu, Open Mike Eagle, Mr. Lif, J-Live, and more. But the star is Keith Thornton, offering more ammunition for his spot as the most creative rapper of all-time, offering more amazing adventures in the future. While other veterans often look back, Keith always knew that space ships don’t come equipped with rear view mirrors. Every thought is a different action. He’s easing into new zones, encountering polygonic time travelers, surrounded by enemies, blasting them with radioactive wave forms. L’Orange is the gunner on the flank, lacing the legend with synthesizers set to stun, great wheeling humid organs, and sad exotic jazz riffs. These are space symphonies and occult odysseys, fuel for wanderers, wonderers, and all the a-likes. Welcome to the new world, even more sinister and suspenseful than the last one. We live in astonishing times: abstract, absurd, and indelibly Kool.
"Welcome to "Don't Look Down". This album is my ode to the ebbs and flows of life. It's ultimate credo is to keep your head up in the toughest of times. This collection of songs in its own way asks us repeatedly if we can stand up after being knocked down. With music born from my own successes, failures, and hard learned lessons, this poetry is woven as a cloak to conceal & nurture me when times are tough and as a consistent and reliable conduit to bliss in my attempts to live life vividly. Thematically, the album begins by following the main character through a harrowing set of circumstances (Pounds of Pressure and The Abyss). Due to the emotionally jarring nature of what occurs in tracks 1 & 2, the protagonist falls into a state of depression on track 3 (Everyday We Pray). By the end of "Everyday We Pray", optimism starts to seep back into the protagonist's outlook and the song "Let Go" represents just that. He is letting go of the challenging situations that have caused him despair. "A Better Day" is perhaps the height of his optimism shone through a lens of clarity & realism. "Whizdom", "Mission Accomplished", & "World Renown" represent ways in which I dive deep into poetry in order to create my own world and provide myself a respite from the ills of society . "iLL" is a turning point in which vulnerabilities creep back toward my surface. A deeply reflective state sets in, and I am left to ponder the ways of the world as I wish for something more. The closing track, "Don't Look Down" continues this reflective & humbled state, yet hauntingly echoes our mantra of resilience. I hope this album finds a place in your life as it is truly me sharing some important pieces of mine..." -Mr. Lif
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Mr. Lif brought hip-hop back in 2002. In an era wracked by warfare and rising economic inequality, the Boston MC helped restore a feeling that had drowned in the mainstream. The album—currently being re-issued by Mello Music Group—was called I Phantom. The message spoke to us all. Inspired by eloquent and irate predecessors like Public Enemy and KRS-One, the rapper born Jeffrey Haynes created arguably the most scathing indictment of life in the Bush era. Originally released on the seminal indie rap imprint Def Jux, Lif’s debut LP was instantly hailed as a classic. The dean of American critics, Robert Christgau lauded its “conceptual ambition [and] detailed knowledge of what it's like to work a job and raise a family", and found it to be "underpinned by an analysis more Boots Riley than Talib Kweli or Steve Earle.” Rolling Stone raved that the album was "graceful" and that Lif was "a rapper as incisive as early-Nineties X-Clan…and far more crucial in these depoliticized times." But the record’s true impact can’t be measured by only critical praise. It’s longevity is more accurately gauged in terms of the hundreds of thousands inspired—the voiceless and disenfranchised for whom I Phantom spoke loud and clear—those sick of their soul-sucking corporate jobs, who gained new strength from Lif’s parables attacking the poisons of exploitive daily existence. “After all those years of being a fan of hip-hop, I knew that when I had a chance to step up and make my own actual album, I wanted it to be special,” Lif remembers. “When I’m writing any songs for any album, I’m always considering what it’s going to sound like in 25 years. I ask myself, am I listening to the aspects of life that are real and true enough to still resonate a quarter century later? I’m glad this still does.” If the definition of a hip-hop classic is a record that defines its time, but also updates the blueprint for the genre to go forward, then I Phantom succeeds on both fronts. It captures the jittery anxiety and woe of the benighted early 00s and also offered a guide for political rap in the post-millennium. Featuring production from El-P and guest raps from El-Producto, Aesop Rock, Akrobatik and Jean Grae, Lif’s first record captures the raw spirit of the first underground boom. More specifically, it distills the intangible rush that surrounded the proceedings. “The camaraderie was also what made I Phantom so special. I would basically go live at El-P’s and my roommate at the time was Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox,” Lif reminisces. “The studio was on the basement level of the apartment and all of us would wake up in the morning, play Madden, and make music. We were just so excited to be building this thing and really wanted to step up and deliver our best work.” The proof is in the Phantom. Lif created a high concept burner that survives the test of time. In Lif’s words, it’s an “exploration of the dynamics of everyday life, and the pursuit of our dreams, in a rapidly decaying society.” In everyday terms, it’s a masterpiece.
Limited to 100 copies, exclusive to Fat Beats and Mello Music Group's webstores.Oddisee makes music that rattles in your bone marrow. It’s imbued with love, honesty, and selflessness. It’s virtuosic in its musicality, direct in its language, and infinitely relatable.In a landscape overrun with abstract indulgence and shallow trend-chasers, the Prince George’s County, Maryland artist has created 'The Good Fight', a record that reminds you that it’s music before it’s hip-hop. Released on Mello Music Group, it’s for the fans and for himself. It finds the musical heavyweight balancing between craft, career, and successfully growing into the world around him.For Oddisee, 'The Good Fight' is about living fully as a musician without succumbing to the traps of hedonism, avarice, and materialism. It’s about not selling out and shilling for a paycheck, while still being aware that this is a business requiring compromise and collaboration. It’s music that yields an intangible feeling: the sacral sound of an organ whine, brass horns, or a cymbal crash. It’s not necessarily the syllables, but rather what they evoke. A song like “That’s Love” is more than a declaration; it’s a meditation on our capacity to love and the bonds binding us together. Ambition and greed war with our sense of propriety. “Contradiction’s Maze” offers a list of paradoxes we all face (“I want to tell the truth when it hurts/but when it comes to me, I want the blow softened.”) Oddisee’s production simmers in its own orchestral gumbo. You sense he’s really a jazzman in different form, inhabiting the spirit of Roy Ayers and other past greats. The Fader’s compared him to a musical MC Escher, calling hailing his “grandiose and symphonic sound” and “relevant relatable messages.” Pitchfork praised his “eclectic soulful boom-bap.” 'The Good Fight' acknowledges the stacked odds, but refuses to submit. It’s both universal and personal. The child of a Sudanese immigrant highlights the rigors of his own upbringing: his pregnant mother working the register until she was about to burst, his pops’ shuttered diner that couldn’t survive Reaganomics—the one that Oddisee drives past every time he returns home, just to remind him how quickly the world can turn bad. It’s these minor details that add into something major. It’s testament to the indelible nature of art: when you can turn what you love into something that lasts.
Oddisee is an everyman with extraordinary talent. Both a rapper chronicling the perils and joys of ordinary existence, and a virtuosic producer attuned to the vibrations of how life actually sounds. But don't mistake the Odd Tape for the noise of birds chirping, idle chatter, or car alarms; it's that internal soul-jazz reverberating at the back of your brain. For the last decade, the Mello Music Group artist has alternated between instrumental albums, full-length rap records, and his role as one-third of Diamond District. The Odd Tape is technically the former-there are no vocals-but if you call this an instrumental album, you might as well say the same about Bitches Brew. After a decade making music, the Prince Georges, Md.-raised and Brooklyn-based has transcended influences, comparisons and genre. The Odd Tape showcases the range of a composer bending hip-hop, soul, and jazz into singular form, tapping into that same emotional Fort Knox that animates all wordless choruses. The Odd Tape revolves around the rhythms of the artist's daily life. It starts in the morning with "Alarmed," that sounds like if Shuggie Otis did a psychedelic eye-opening cover of Nas' "Shootouts." It rolls through "Right Side of the Bed," with its glitter-gold sax lines, loose drums, and sunshine-slanting-through-the-blinds keyboards. Oddisee went from sampling to creating the eternal sounds of his original inspirations. You can hear older gods like Roy Ayers, Bob James, and Fela, but mostly you hear Oddisee continue to come into his own. As Pitchfork described his previous album, 2015's The Good Fight: "the music feels distinctly international and unhindered, far removed from the straight-ahead boom-bap he used to make. He's always created on his own terms, but [this] feels like a hearty "fuck you" to prevailing groupthink and the industry's creative limitations." But this record marks another ascension. It glides, meditates, and simmers from "Alarmed" to "Still Sleeping." The soundtrack to his coffee in the morning, a trip to the corner store for fresh groceries, producing in the afternoon, cruising his bike through the city for inspiration, late afternoon song writing, stepping out into the evening with friends, hookah on the rooftop in Brooklyn, and settling into the dream world again. This is the Odd Tape, life as you've never heard it before.
Open Mike Eagle dominated End of Year Lists with his last album, "Dark Comedy" - making USA Today, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork's "Best of" Lists at the end of 2014. During 2015 he toured Europe & North America, as well as making television appearances on Comedy Central's "Why With Hannibal Burress" alongside Thundercat & Flying Lotus, Midnight w/ Chris Hardwick, and the Eric Andre Show. During all of this he completed his strongest album to date, "Hella Personal Film Festival" with UK producer Paul White. You may know Paul White from his solo work, or his production work with Danny Brown, Homeboy Sandman, or Yasiin Bey (Mos Def). But, his work with Open Mike sets a new standard for cohesiveness and creativity. Eclectic, inspired and at times jarring, the sound is Arthouse Hiphop at its best. The new album, "Hella Personal Film Festival," features are sparse and pointed, one from the legendary Aesop Rock and the other from Future Islands frontman Hemlock Ernst. The topics are profound and timely, fresh in their perspective. This is one for heavy rotation.
Limited to 100 copies, exclusive to Fat Beats and Mello Music Group's webstores.Pete Rock was raised in Mount Vernon, but his face belongs on Mount Rushmore. The Chocolate Boy Wonder perfected an art form, inspired millions, and soundtracked a generation. By contrast, Teddy Roosevelt seems like a chump. This is the man who Dilla told, “I wanted to be like you.” Kanye once called himself the “new Pete Rock.” But the original Pete Rock remains permanently vital. The evidence bangs in his latest opus, Petestrumentals 2, the sequel to the 2001 classic that helped define the hip-hop instrumental record. It marks the legend’s first album on Mello Music Group, a fitting union between the author of the boom-bap blueprint and the label that’s expanded upon his legacy. Describing Pete Rock’s productions do them little justice. They resonate in your gut, heart, and brain. The title of one of these beats says it all: “Makes Me Feel Like.” You fill in the blanks based on your personal experience and current mood. Petestrumentals 2 conjures memories of BBQ cookouts and 70s Blaxploitation scores, rattling summer jeep cruises and blunted Jamaican vacations. There’s a gorgeous requiem to Dilla (“Dilla Bounce (R.I.P),” where the originator pays tribute to the prodigy. You see the full range of Rock’s gifts on display: the meticulously chopped horns, unquantized drums, and air raid sirens. It contains the emotion of a thousand eulogies.No record can’t be resurrected. There’s no sub-genre or era that can’t be converted into Rock’s singular brand of soul. His music is the closest thing we’ll ever get to a time-traveling DeLorean, effortlessly shifting between past, present, and future. For the last 20 years, hip-hop heads have argued over the best Pete Rock original productions and remixes. Is it “They Reminisce Over You” or the “Shut ‘Em Down Remix?” Do you prefer Soul Survivor or the first Petestrumentals, his work with INI or the UN? His catalogue can’t be compressed into a bio; you need a book. This is the latest chapter—an even 20 slaps and rhythmic levitations. It’s Pete Rock at his best, accelerating and kicking cosmic slop, extending wishes, hope, love, gritty drums and eternal wonder.
Lullabies For The Broken Brain is a some odd track instrumental project from Detroit producer Quelle Chris (Danny Brown. Sean P, Stacey Adams). While most have come to know Quelle's production for its oinky doink, ear gagging, smooth jazz, Lullabies reveals another aspect of his wizardry. This high flying, jello instrumental album is ideal on an armageddon evening, or as a snack of the day. Each track is dormant and juicy. Lullabies is an infinite instrumental ride, a backdrop for deception. For some, lullabies come to mind when fondling the planets while being lost in space. Formed in different dreams, daydreams, and hallucinations, set low in the earth or hanging high at the Alamo, lullabies seem to stir up a sort of distress that we all need at times. This project is an amalgamation of beats put together to do something. Whether to reflect on a certain animal within, or to accompany heavy drugs, Lullabies puts forth farts to provoke blah blah.
Few things are more ugly or heroic than telling the truth. Life is often bleak, brutal, and over all too swiftly. Leaders are corrupt. Job prospects are limited. Cigarettes and shots of gin rarely lead to a peaceful finish. But between the lunacy and squalor, there exists those who make it all worthwhile: family, friends, and ruthlessly honest artists who remind you that you aren’t alone, shedding light on those dark nights of the soul. As Michigan’s anti-Surgeon General, Red Pill quips: “We may not be the heroes this world needs, we're definitely not the heroes this world wants, but at least we're here.” His partners in Ugly Heroes are Chicago MC Verbal Kent, and Detroit producer Apollo Brown. Their sophomore Mello Music Group release, Everything In Between, offers diamonds of wisdom amidst the existential dumpster fire. It’s been said that if you go down deep enough, past the personal, you eventually reach the universal. Ugly Heroes embody that axiom, unraveling their own stories, self-doubts, and bouts with depression to arrive at something as profound as it is vulnerable. Apollo Brown warps soul music and bayonet-hard drums, creating a singular form of soul-coughing dirty-sky symphonies. Levitating boom-bap for the 21st Century. “Have you ever figured what you’d be like in a few years…why don’t you look ahead” A cinematic voice opens up “Today, Right Now,” with these words, doubling as a manifesto for things to come. Just as quickly, a voice retorts, “ah, don’t preach at me…as if you can tell what you’ll be like in a few years.” The back-and-forth distills the questions at the core of the record: What will my future look like? How can I repair myself? What gives my life meaning? What do we do in a world where the right answers are frequently hidden and the wrong answers are all too obvious? Red Pill, Verbal Kent, and Apollo Brown refuse to offer simple solutions, but instead created a life-affirming record with a dark undercurrent. Red Pill calls us “rational cattle” one moment, but half-jokingly insists on the importance of “grabbing the bull by its arms” in the next. They’re artists and brothers and fathers grappling with the impossible: how to extend the good moments indefinitely, how to eradicate the bad ones to protect themselves and the ones they love. They might harbor the suspicion that the past, present, and future might all be the same, but they understand that acts of heroism are often found in minor gestures. In a frivolous world, Ugly Heroes prove that talent will always reign supreme and honesty can never become obsolete. All Songs Produced by Apollo Brown
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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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