De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest may have been more commercially successful, but the afrocentric, jazz political rap movement and unfadeable Native Tongue Massive started with the Jungle Brothers. Their debut full length “Straight Out the Jungle” opened up many doors that are walked through by today’s artists like Mos Def, Common and even Kanye West. Their taste for jazzy horn samples helped kick-start the entire jazz-rap movement, and their James Brown fixation was one of the first. Plus, the group’s groundbreaking collaboration with legendary house producer Todd Terry, “I’ll House You,” paved the way for numerous hip-house hybrids that shot up the dance and pop charts over the next few years and appeared to be a staple on every East Coast Rap Album from ‘88 until ‘92. The opening track “Straight Out the Jungle” samples the classic Bill Withers drum break as the JB’s tell you where they are coming from. “Black Is Black” (featuring a young Q-Tip) and “Sounds Of The Safari” introduces the pro-black edge, while the sexually subtle classics “Jimbrowski” and “I’m Gonna Do You” are funny, clever and timely. Hard, smart, fun, clever and brilliant, Mike G., Africa Baby Bam and Sammy G may not have realized it but they crafted a classic rap album that stands the test of time. Available here on high grade, loud pressed, double vinyl for the first time ever!
Whether it’s Hip Hop, its face pointed reverentially to the Old School, or House stealing Disco riffs by the truck load, people are increasingly intrigued by back-in-the-day. And common to both the aforementioned scenes and much more is one person, Arthur Russell, a man some regard as the best songwriter of the 20th century. In 1981 Arthur set up Sleeping Bag Records with Will Socolov. The first release was the album “24-24 Music” as Dinosaur L. If you’re wondering about the name it would appear Arthur would often use the names of extinct or near-extinct animals. On one production credit he’s “Killer Whale, whilst the logo for Sleeping Bag is a Koala bear! Will remembers how they came up with the name for their label. “We were joking about names, and James Brown was on with “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and I was sleeping in a sleeping bag in my apartment and I kind of made a joke about that, and Arthur said that was a great idea for the name of the company!” The line up was pretty much the same as the Loose Joints sessions, (which boasted the Ingram Brothers rhythm section) and a similar stream-of-conscience approach was taken with the recording itself. Russell arranged the beats so there’d be a change every 24 bars (hence the title) and the band would have to improvise the songs over the top. He also made sure he went into the studio when there was a full moon! The album is again very experimental, and makes occasional uneasy listening but the same magic is very much in evidence. Arthur would continue to be involved in production and mixing duties for the label, but parted company with Socolov in 1985. Arthur sadly died of AIDS in 1992 leaving behind many songs; as one obituary put it, it was though he simply vanished into his music.
After breaking out of the Bay Area underground scene in the early 90s Del The Funky Homosapien made a radical turn with his sophomore release, 93's "No Need For Alarm." Casting aside the familiar G-funk vibe of his debut, perhaps as "No Need" was produced without the involvement of his cousin Ice Cube, he moved into a jazzier - some would say more East Coast direction on this project. The verbal content on "No Need" shifted as well, moving away from comic interludes and towards a focus on battle raps. "No Need For Alarm" was produced with his Oakland based Hieroglyphics Crew with Domino, A-Plus and Casual all contributing beats making the record one of the three "Hiero Golden Age" releases (along with Souls of Mischief's "'93 til Infinity" and Casual's "Fear Itself").
With Grand Puba’s departure shortly after the issue of the group’s debut full-length, Brand Nubian as a trio was no more. Grand Puba went on as a solo artist while Lord Jamar and Sadat X (formerly Derek) kept the Brand Nubian name and released the amazing follow up In God We Trust. The album quickly silenced anyone who had any doubt that they would be able to follow up their debut classic with another classic as they did just that. “Allah U Akbar"" starts things off and was a clear sign that they were back in business in a very real way. Songs like “Pass the Gat” and “Steady Bootlegging” show the no nonsense style that had come to be expected from the Nubians, while “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” surprised all with how perfectly they blended the subject matter of woman and relationships, without it being corny. “Black Star Line”, “The Travel Jam” and “Ain’t No Mystery” all round out the album and are a perfect mix of cutting edge production and the five percent subject matter the group is known to espouse. The album's classic single, the Diamond D produced “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down” was the cut that truly lit a fire under hip hop’s collective rear-end. The album version of the song went hard but the remix utilized in the music video—confirmed that THIS Brand Nubian were here to stay.
KMD (Kausing Much Damage, or a positive Kause in a Much Damaged society) was a Hip Hop group in the early 90s perhaps best known for launching the career of acclaimed MC/Producer MF Doom (known during his KMD tenure as Zev Love X). After guesting on 3rd Bass’ “The Gas Face,” the trio (Zev, brother Subroc, and Onyx) released the acclaimed and overlooked “Mr. Hood” full-length. Their political outlook was similar to the group Brand Nubian, who guested on Hood; however, the style was more comical and included a great deal of clips from old children’s recordings, mostly notably a sample of the Sesame Street character Bert on the single “Who Me?” This is the official Elektra Records/Traffic Entertainment Group re-release with original artwork and track listing in it’s entirety. Cutting edge, ahead of it’s time production and skits from KMD and Stimulated Dummies (John Gamble and Mr. Dante Ross). Features the singles “Peachfuzz”, “Who Me?” and “Nitty Gritty” (feat. Brand Nubian). This is one Rap album that is not to be missed.
When released at the end of 1990 Brand Nubian’s “One For All” emerged into musical landscape yet to be littered with disposable hip hop. The politically charged and socially conscious material brought acclaim to the project, both critically and commercially. The Source granted the album a full on 5 Mics saying Brand Nubian’s debut “overflows with creativity, originality, and straight-up talent.” Even Robert Christgau of the Village Voice, who’s reviews often read like a riddle penned by a hater, laced “One For All” with a solid A-. By the late 90s the record had been named one of The Source’s 100 Best Rap Albums with the single “Slow Down” on their list of Top 100 hip hop singles of all time. Sure, militant Five Percenter beliefs (among other things) stirred controversy. Yet the music found here remains relevant and has stood the test of time. Besides, some of us miss the days when inflammatory rhetoric in hip hop could cause controversy. Long out of print on vinyl, Traffic Entertainment now proudly presents this fresh pressing of one of hip hop’s most crucial releases. A moment in time captured in the grooves of the double vinyl pressing for the world to remember how great the genre can be.
There are very few albums across any genre that stand the test of time better than 93 'Til Infinity, the classic debut record from the Hieroglyphics crew's very own Souls of Mischief. In an era where Gangsta Rap and G-Funk dominated the West Coast Rap scene, Souls broke ground on a completely unique and thoroughly west coast sound. While the Dr. Dre's and the Snoop Doggs were garnering much of the mainstream attention, Souls were quietly forging a charismatic, critically acclaimed, and cohesively shaped record that when categorized, sounded much closer to A Tribe Called Quest than N.W.A. The sound of their debut is characteristic of the distinct style explored by the collective, including a rhyme scheme based on internal rhyme and beats centered around a live bass and obscure jazz and funk samples. 93 'Til Infinity was propelled into success by its title track and lead single, which reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also featured singles "That's When Ya Lost" and "Never No More" which also reached the Hot Rap Singles. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time. Considered by many to be a text book "slept-on" classic Rap record, 93 'Til Infinity has only grown better with age. The album simply defines the Hiero golden age with a sound that would later be fine tuned with strong releases from MCs Del The Funkee Homosapien, Casual and Pep Love. It takes some serious bravado to name your album 93 'Til Infinity, but certainly the goal of creating a Hip Hop "classic" must have been on the collective minds of group members A-Plus, Tajai, Opio, and Phesto when recording this landmark moment in Hip Hop history. It's true, even seventeen years after the album's initial release many people are still discovering it, and with this re-mastered reissue on double vinyl, fans all over the world will once again discover the brilliance that 93 'Til Infinity delivers and will continue to deliver beyond infinity.
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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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