Record Label: Virgin
Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will continue its Respect the Classics tribute to many of hip-hop’s finest with the 20th anniversary vinyl reissue of Hard To Earn from the seminal rap duo Gang Star featuring MC Guru and DJ/producer DJ Premier. Originally released in 1994 as the follow-up to 1992's Daily Operation, Hard To Earn was Gang Starr's fourth full-length and it found the duo stripping things down and offering more of a straight up hip-hop record full of raw beats and attitude. Includes the singles "Mass Appeal," "DWYCK" and "Code of the Streets" plus guest appearances by Group Home, Jeru The Damaja and Big Shug.
“With Hard to Earn, one of the things that I was going through sonically was, it was right around the time that Guru started doing Jazzmatazz, and we kept getting categorized as ‘jazz rap.’ Which is why Guru did Jazzmatazz, because we wanted to protect Gang Starr from being categorized like that, because we felt like we were a hip-hop group from day one...Being that Guru was getting aggravated with us being labeled like that, I said, ‘I’m gonna strip this album down,’ just to show that I could use things other than jazz samples. We both wanted to show that anything I use is going to be a hip-hop beat. We said we were going to make it as raw as possible, and less musical, on purpose, just to show we’re good on any track, together." - DJ Premier
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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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