Record Label: Numero Group
A decade ago, Dante Carfagna issued a somewhat anonymous LP under the Express Rising heading. That self-titled affair went in and out of print before 2003’s summer gave way to fall, thanks in part to its release by the frustratingly obscure Memphix label, but thanks more to how it broke new ground for the instrumental rap generation’s interest in the sub-sub-basement of record mining. The album’s blurry boreal cover captured Carfagna’s mysterious persona. Though he’s been attached to such seminal compilations as Chains and Black Exhaust, a grip of Eccentric Soul titles, and the recent electronic soul collection Personal Space --and though his signature “Records I barely like but maybe you will” approach to writing helped build the Wax Poetics brand--Dante remains a tough man to pin down. He doesn’t even have a working doorbell.
Which may be a good thing, as he recorded his second album in the middle room of his third floor walk-up in Chicago’s Dog Patch neighborhood. A notorious homebody, Carfagna cut much of this second self titled LP after a long nights of Camel filters and bottled New Glarus—while watching his neighbors departure for morning straight-world commutes. Reaching back to 2008 and an Akai four track, these 11 songs break from the foraging tradition employed by Dante’s debut, swapping out breakbeats and samples for guitar, Wurlitzer, banjo, steel guitar, synthesizer, and an arcane drum machine.
Reached for comment, Carfagna had this to say about himself and about Express Rising: “My last record came out ten years ago. Much has changed and much has not.”
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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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