Record Label: Stones Throw
When not out touring the globe with his band, DJing nights in the Pacific Northwest that he calls home or running through the streets of Los Angeles with pal, mentor and label-head Peanut Butter Wolf, James Singleton aka James Pants is up in his lab assemblin’. He’s packed numerous recorded projects under his belt for Stones Throw Records and this is his first effort with publishing/licensing house Miserable Beast Music. All The Hits is a journey into the genre-les domain typically classified as library music, made specifically for the visual medium.
James Pants is the best kept secret of his generation. Whoever is keeping this secret needs to stop. Not only does he wield virtuosic skills on his instrument (the drums, you didn’t know?), but he is a multi-tasking, visionary producer and song craftsman. He finds new sounds and gets them. He finds interesting feelings in styles you thought you forgot. Much like James Brown had his People, and like Ol’ Roy had his Uno Melodic, we will be surprised if Pants does not unbuckle his very own label some day....
But for now, Pants is holding it down for Stones Throw Records – the L.A.-based imprint with the global influence we feel today. Once regarded by nay-sayers as the red-headed step-child of a hip-hop leviathan, and a sure sign of the label’s imminent demise, the misunderstood James Pants without doubt has turned his critics inside-out. Staying original and musical, this first-string player has been putting in work, honing his wrinkle-free stage show into a scintillating force that has toured Europe a couple times and China too.... and his sophomore release has yet to hit the stores.
It wasn’t always this easy for Pants. There were hard times and more than his share of critics. Coming from the mountain fresh atmosphere of Spokane, Washington – and, reaching back to high school, the Southern hospitality of Austin, Texas – the insecurity and hesitation of Hollywood life smelled nearly poisonous when Stones Throw leader Peanut Butter Wolf invited young Pants to swing through and intern for a bit back in 2005. Haters basically tried to bring him down from the moment his leathery sandal hit the cracked concrete. To understand how remarkable humility and resolve gave Pants the ability to focus and carry on with his art, let’s take it back further...
....to high school prom in Austin, Texas. At a Peanut Butter Wolf gig after James Pants’s prom – That’s where James Pants brought his date to try and meet Peanut Butter Wolf. The two DJs (one iconic, one aspiring) went record shopping the next day. The lone Wolf saw something of himself in the lanky teen with the preternatural funk. How can this be explained? James Pants had his own hip-hop crew at school; he made the beats and DJ’d, providing the musical backdrop for his peers’ Black militant subject matter. How is this possible? Everyone likes Pants. Just like his father, the baseball trivia expert and many tenured minister.
Or should we say, just like his daddy the Preacher! Performing – elocuting vociferously – in front of any audience.... it’s in his blood. Treating one’s neighbor as one would like to be treated? Check. Turning the other cheek to a hater? Check. What you have is a born community leader, who happens to have a message of music. Sounds – abstract, funky, synthetic, organic, stimulating, stirring – constitute the man’s sermon.... He reads from his own scriptures – the vinyl offerings of every genre – and, if you happen to catch his live show James Pants & The Royal Zodiac, he will baptise you too, from the font of effervescent feedback flowing down from the stage.
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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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