Fat Beats to close its remaining Los Angeles and New York locations
For hip-hop heads of legal drinking age, the name Fat Beats inevitably conjures memories of teenage years spent trawling through racks of vinyl, in-store appearances with the latest underground stars (during a period when "underground" didn't require scare quotes) and encyclopedic employees often pulled from the top ranks of the Los Angeles DJ scene.
And now, the iconic hip-hop retailer will close its last two remaining brick-and-mortar locations in New York and Los Angeles -- another apparent casualty to ever-dwindling record sales and interest in vinyl among hip-hop consumers. The closures reflect the final act of contraction for a chain that had previous shuttered its locations in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Tokyo.
“The closing of Fat Beats is just like one of my friends passing away,” DJ Premier said in a prepared statement. “They promoted vinyl at its highest degree for the culture of good music, and that makes it more difficult to say goodbye.”
Underpinning the statement is the reality that while vinyl has seen an upsurge of interest among indie rock fans, hip-hop fans have moved away from the format in recent years. This reality has been compounded by the rise of illegal downloading, free mix tapes and the general difficulty of finding popular rap records on vinyl.
The New York location will close its doors on Sept. 4, with L.A.'s Melrose Boulevard outpost shutting down on Sept. 18. A spate of goodbye celebrations and sales are planned in the interim. Fat Beats' online store, distribution business and Brooklyn-based record label will remain extant.
“This is the start of a new era in Fat Beats,” Fat Beats owner and president Joe Abajian said in a prepared statement. “We’re adapting to meet the needs of our demographic by revamping and improving our existing systems. While our website, which stocks everything available in our retail stores, continues to do very well, we’re still exploring our options for alternate retail locations in the future. We’re proud of our legacy and will continue to reinvent ourselves."
With the closure of one of Los Angeles' last remaining hubs of independent hip-hop, expect a flurry of tributes to pour in over the next 30 days. In the meantime, this reminiscence from local rapper TiRon nicely captures the store' s place in LA hip-hop culture and illustrates why it will be sorely missed.
-- Jeff Weiss