Record Label: Get On Down
“Only a few people have ever changed the way that records are made. Pete Rock is one of them,” veteran hip-hop A&R man and producer Dante Ross told Brian Coleman in the book Check the Technique Vol 1. “People like Pete change the sound palette for the whole world. He had a signature sound, and that’s so hard to get.”
It is a tall boast, but it’s backed up two different ways: by fans of the group from back in the ‘90s who knocked each other over in record stores to get the latest Pete Rock production; and by record buyers today, who still hear the same freshness in the group’s sound that people did more than two decades ago.
These two songs are taken from the group’s legendary first full-length from 1992, Mecca & The Soul Brother. Originally, both were their own 12-inch singles, but for this special, first-time-ever 7-Inch release, they are paired together.
“They Reminisce Over You” – a tribute to their late friend Trouble T-Roy (a member of Heavy D’s crew) – is one of the most beloved hip-hop tracks of the ‘90s, and rightfully so. Grooving very deeply over a filtered bassline and a now-ingrained Tom Scott saxophone riff (“Today”), CL Smooth lives up to his moniker, weaving various tales and lessons about family and friends. His status as a storytelling MC remains underrated, but here it remains proudly on display.
“Straighten It Out,” although not the runaway smash that “They Reminisce” was, is equally emotional and soulful. Again over a mid-tempo groove, and again with Pete’s trademark warm horn samples, CL explained in Check the Technique, “On [part of] the song, I was talking about sampling, and I was basically reacting to how everything was such a procedure when you had to clear stuff. They didn’t seem to care about how their music affected anyone else, they just wanted money. So it was just something that needed to be straightened out. Older artists thought that us younger cats were ripping them off, but it wasn’t like that. It was a tribute.”
So here’s the math: one classic hip-hop group, two memorable singles, one killer 7-Inch. Case closed.
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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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