Record Label: Get On Down
Amongst hip-hop fans, Boogie Down Productions’ first two albums – Criminal Minded (1987) and By All Means Necessary (1988) – both loom very large. And for good reason: they both captured one of the late 1980s’ most important and influential crews at their highest powers of lyricism and musical invention.
That being said, too many people sleep on BDP’s third LP, Ghetto Music. Released in 1989, when the hip-hop world was truly beginning to explode and reach new heights of sales and exposure around the world, the album is arguably as powerful as the group’s first two.
As on By All Means Necessary, in the wake of the tragic death of original founder, producer and DJ Scott LaRock, KRS-One pushed along mightily on the production side, with help from his extended crew. Musically the sound created on albums 2 & 3 was funky, catchy, and continually innovative, giving him the perfect backdrop to build his “Edutainment” syllabus.
Lyrically there was never a question about KRS’ power, and on Ghetto Music he continues to impress, teach and ask important questions. Clear cases in point are two of the album’s singles, “You Must Learn” and “Why Is That?” but he gets even deeper on lesser-jocked tracks like the anti-police thought-piece “Who Protects Us From You” (still sadly relevant in 2017), “Ghetto Music” and “World Peace.”
Still as strong and entertaining today as it was almost three decades ago, this new reissue is a perfect way for younger fans to embrace one of the most underrated hip-hop platters of the era.
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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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