It’s always fun when footage of pre-fame Kanye West emerges online. The latest example comes from DJ Eclipse, the former manager of legendary NYC record store Fat Beats, which before closing in 2010 was a pivotal New York rap hub and a mecca for hip-hop fans worldwide. Eclipse was poring through video of performances from the 1996 grand opening of the shop’s 6th Avenue location only to discover a now-familiar figure who hadn’t scanned as significant at the time. Eclipse sent the footage to Complex along with the following message:
The original location of Fat Beats launched on July 14, 1994 which means FB just turned 20 years old! Business was doing so well 2 years in that Joseph Abajian decided to move the store from it’s small 9th St. basement space into a 2nd floor location on 6th Avenue. August 1996 (day?) was the grand opening of the 406 6th Avenue location. It was also the beginnings of our independent movement which had recently started bubbling about a year before.
Yesterday I started converting old Hi8 video tapes to DVD and came across some interesting footage from that day. Now we had a lot of the usual suspects in the place that day such as ILL BILL, Arsonists, Lord Finesse, Adagio, Breeze Brewin, A.L. Skills, Percee P, J-Live, Mr. Live, Chino XL, Al Tariq, Black Attack, Xzibit, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Rawcotiks, Ak Skills, Rob Swift, Roc Raida, DJ Spinna and many, many more. But what took me by surprise was the appearance of this 19-year-old kid who at that time nobody knew. At least in NYC.
That kid, of course, was Kanye. Watch him go in below.
Strong lyrics and stage presence from ‘Ye! Better than this 1998 appearance IMO. Also, for the curious, here’s a quick primer on Fat Beats: