As a hip hop fan for twenty years now (give or take), I'm a bit frustrated by the news that Fat Beats has shut down in New York, following shut downs in Amsterdam, Tokyo, LA and other areas. For years Fat Beats was THE place to go in NY for vinyl records. I've often heard stories of high profile hip hop artists and DJ's going through Fat Beats looking through vinyl for their collections.
In 2005, Chinese rapper Jin filmed his video for "Top 5 Dead Alive" inside the legendary store, where you could see the rows of vinyl, and the assorted hip hop posters plastered on the walls and ceiling.
I was never fortunate enough to go there, as I've never been to NY or LA, least of all Amsterdam or Tokyo, however there's something that really frustrates me and infuriates me, as a fan of hip hop. It's the same feeling I got back in 2005 when the legendary music studio The Hit Factory closed down, and was going to be turned into some condos.
And that is where the hell are the hip hop heavyweights right now? Where is Russell Simmons? Where is Jay Z? Where is Diddy? Where are the DJ's at right now? Why is there no attempt at keeping this piece of hip hop history alive? Does it mean that little to them?
I understand the economy is shit right now, and with the advent of MP3's and Serrato, there's not as big a demand for Vinyl as there once was back in the 80's and 90's. And I realize a place like Fat Beats costs money to keep open. Shit ain't free. I understand that.
However this is more than a simple store closing down. This is history. Even though I grew up in Virginia, and never made it out of the state, save for a vacation or three with family as a kid, I knew about Fat Beats. I had heard about all the famous hip hop artists who would go there, I heard about all the DJ's that would get their records from there. I heard the name of the store shouted out on albums by artists like Eminem and others.
And now that's just done? Over? Sayonara? Well, I'm sorry but that makes no sense. Why am I not seeing stories about the DJ's and artists trying to figure something out to keep Fat Beats going? Why is there no fund raising, no donations from high profile members of the hip hop community to keep it going?
I mean, come on now. This has to mean something to people. For all those DJ's who talk about how much they're going to miss Fat Beats, how about some of them get together and do something about keeping it there?
Quentin Tarantino bought a little indie theater called The New Beverly earlier this year when it came out that they were going to have to shut down due to the costs of running it.
With the rise of DVDs, the theater was suffering a possible closure and new life as a Super Cuts until Quentin Tarantino, a longtime fan and patron of the theater, stepped in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he volunteered to pay $5,000 a month to keep the theater open. He's been doing so steadily until 2007, when owner and family patriarch Sherman Togan passed away.
The theater was in danger of closing again, as the landlord had a buyer bidding for the space as the Togan family tried to stall for time and rescue. Luckily, Tarantino stepped up again, and this time purchased The New Beverly outright. "I always considered the New Beverly my charity -- an investment I never wanted back," he told THR. "I already had a good relationship with the family and the theater, so it was a natural step."
Tarantino plans to leave the Torgan family in charge, though as owner he's going to indulge in some screenings. "I can make programming suggestions when I want to. It is cool to have a theater that I can use to show what I like ... As long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm."
Now how is that situation any different than Fat Beats? Both were iconic establishments catering to a lost art, and both were going to be shut down because the owners couldn't afford to keep it going. Only difference is, the New Beverly had someone that cared enough to step up, put his money where his heart was, and keep it going.
This is a joke that this is allowed to happen. The fact that a historical cornerstone of hip hop is going away, because those who have enjoyed its services over the years, and have talked about how much they loved it can't step in and do something about it, is a damn shame.
Too bad we don't have people that give a shit. I guess, maybe we should have handed out copies of this movie, to all these people who have gotten rich off hip hop, and yet they can't do anything to give back.