Records and Paper Goods From Founder Joe Abajian’s Collection
For those that weren’t able to make the sale of Joe Abajian’s collection at Rappcats in Los Angeles this past weekend, we’ve assembled a limited amount of grab bags and we’re offering them for sale online, on a first come first serve basis.
Each grab bag comes with four pieces of hip hop vinyl (could be a 12,” could be an LP) and one paper good (either a promo flat or a poster) from Joe Abajian’s collection. We can’t promise you that you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for, but you’ll get a part of hip hop’s history with real provenance.
Cost: $25, plus shipping. The weight is 3lbs.
Contents: four pieces of hip hop vinyl (12”, EP, LP) and a paper good. Please note, double LP’s count was two pieces of vinyl and all posters will be folded; these are opened records.
Choice: We are assembling these on a case by case basis and aim to make it something you’re happy with. However, there will be no guarantees of condition or any returns accepted, the same as was the case at the L.A. sale.
Provenance: Records from Joe Abajian’s collection; all paper goods from Fat Beats’ NYC and LA stores.
Some background: Fat Beats, in its first incarnation in the East Village NYC in 1994, was the epicenter of the ‘90s East Coast independent rap explosion. In the days before web-stores, collectors and fans from all over the world made pilgrimages to this hip hop mecca to buy the latest vinyl releases by their heroes. Whether the release was a rare double vinyl LP on a major label or one of a five-hundred press run released by a fledgling indie, Fat Beats stocked it all. It’s hard to describe just how thrilling it was to walk down the steps at 332 East 9th St, feel the heat from the overhead lamps, and hear the likes of DJ Avee play Jay Z’s “In My Lifetime” as a new release on his self-funded Roc-A-Fella records, but that’s exactly the mise en scene of the environment. It was ’90s hip hop at its best, and the scene was welcoming. At its height, Fat Beats employed DJ Eclipse, Mista Sinister, Ill Bill, Q-Unique and other NYC hip hop staples who would happily recommend records to anyone who walked in the door.
Soon Abajian expanded to a larger location at 406 6th Ave, atop the Bagel Buffet. Upstairs, the likes of Q-Tip, Eminem, Gangstarr, RZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface would perform at jam-packed in-store appearances. Rap legend Percee P was a fixture selling cassettes and CDs on the street outside.
Abajian then moved west, opening Fat Beats LA, in 1996 first on Vermont Avenue and then, again, at a bigger location on Melrose Avenue. Then came international expansion: Amsterdam and Tokyo, as well as Atlanta in 1998.
Abajian closed the stores in 2010, at a low point for vinyl sales and a turning point for the sonic direction in hip hop. But by that point he’d amassed a large vinyl collection. Acting as a ring leader at his various stores, showing up at shows, taking meeting and reviewing test presses, and collecting one of a kind, autographed records that once lined the Fat Beats walls for nearly fifteen years lead to thousands of records in his possession that he moved to a storage facility. The records – many autographed by hip hop stars – that he kept he’s now putting on offer at a special one pop up of the real Fat Beats at Rappcats, along with one-of-a-kind slicks, posters, life-size stand-ups and other ephemera from a time in hip hop’s history that was recent enough to still feel warm and vibrant, but of an era that we already know will never be seen again.