In August 1996, independent hip-hop shop Fat Beats outgrew its original digs in a modest 9th Street basement and moved up to a much more spacious and naturally day-lit location above 6th Avenue near West 8th Street. They had a lot to celebrate. Sales were strong and the store was becoming the cultural hub for hip-hop in the city. So why not throw a grand opening party?
As with many underground rap festivities at the time, budding emcees flocked to Fat Beats on this historic day to join the housewarming. Eventually a DJ got on, needles were put to wax and a cipher broke out. Fledgling rappers got to flex their skills for whoever would listen. Luckily, former Fat Beats employee and hip-hop purist DJ Eclipse was on hand and videotaped it all for posterity.
The mic was passed around amicably and eventually landed in the palm of an unknown, fresh-faced, 19-year old from Chicago. The young, confident Kanye West proceeded to kick a very solid verse—and, from the looks of it, captivated the onlookers for a solid minute and a half.
The Fat Beats store shut its doors in 2010 but the company still operates as a digital record label. And Mr. West, as you may have heard, has continued his career as well.