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|Distributor(s)|| Priority Records (1999-2002)|
MCA Records (2002-2003)
Geffen Records (2004)
RED Distribution (2006-2007)
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Location||New York City|
Rawkus Records was an American hip hop record label known for starting the careers of many rappers. Rawkus started in 1995 with releases in hip-hop, drum and bass and fun-dustrial (Dystopia One).
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.
Drum and bass, is a genre and branch of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers.
Label heads Brian Brater and Jarret Myer then signed some of the top underground talent from the New York area, notably Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek and Company Flow, who went on to define the label's sound. The string of 12" releases and full-length albums that followed helped initiate a resurgence in the New York/East Coast sound. Many of these are considered classics among hip-hop aficionados. During the mid to late 1990s, Rawkus became a dominant label in the underground hip-hop scene, producing a string of gold albums and a platinum album.
Jarret Myer is an American media entrepreneur who co-founded the record label Rawkus Records, the YouTube talent company Big Frame, and the digital media brand Uproxx. Since the sale of Uproxx to Woven Digital in 2014, Myer has served as Woven Digital's general manager of publishing.
Yasiin Bey, better known by his stage name Mos Def, is an American rapper, singer, actor and activist. Best known for his music, Bey began his hip hop career in 1994, alongside his siblings in the short-lived rap group Urban Thermo Dynamics (UTD), after which he appeared on albums by Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. He subsequently formed the duo Black Star, alongside fellow Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli, and they released their eponymous debut album in 1998. He was featured on the roster of Rawkus Records and in 1999 released his solo debut, Black on Both Sides. His debut was followed by The New Danger (2004), True Magic (2006) and The Ecstatic (2009). The editors at About.com listed him as the 14th greatest emcee of all time on their "50 greatest MC's of our time" list. Some of Mos Def's top hits include, "Oh No", "Definition" and "Respiration".
Talib Kweli Greene is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and activist. Kweli earned recognition early on through his collaboration with fellow Brooklyn rapper Mos Def, when they formed the group Black Star. Kweli's musical career continued with solo success including collaborations with producers and rappers Kanye West, Just Blaze, and Pharrell Williams. His most recent solo album is titled Radio Silence, released in 2017. In 2011, Kweli founded his own record label, Javotti Media.
Rawkus Records was established in 1995 by Brian Brater and Jarret Myer, with financial backing from James Murdoch,son of Rupert Murdoch. In 1996, Rupert Murdoch bought a majority of Rawkus. In 1999 the label entered into a distribution deal with Priority Records.
Keith Rupert Murdoch, is an Australian-born American media mogul who founded News Corp.
Priority Records is an American distribution company and record label known for artists including N.W.A, Ice-T, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Silkk the Shocker and Westside Connection. It also distributed hip hop record labels including Death Row Records, Hoo-Bangin' Records, No Limit Records, Posthuman Records, Rap-A-Lot Records, Rawkus Records, Roc-A-Fella Records, Ruthless Records and Wu-Tang Records. According to Billboard, "few record labels were as important to the rise of West Coast hip hop as Priority Records."
Over the years, Rawkus recorded several notable independent hip hop artists,including Reflection Eternal, Company Flow, the High and Mighty, Mos Def and Talib Kweli (as Blackstar), Eminem, Common, Pharoahe Monch and Skillz.
Company Flow was an American hip hop trio from Brooklyn, New York City, consisting of Bigg Jus, El-P and Mr. Len.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known professionally as Eminem, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, record executive, film producer, and actor. He is consistently cited as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time, and has been labelled the "King of Hip Hop". In addition to his solo career, Eminem was a member of the hip hop group D12. He is also known for his collaborations with fellow Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5'9"; the two are collectively known as Bad Meets Evil.
Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn, better known by his stage name Common, is an American rapper, actor, writer, and philanthropist. Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained an underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians.
In 2002, Rawkus signed a joint venture deal with MCA. Soon after, MCA folded and Interscope/Geffen bought Rawkus. After the sale of its catalog in 2004, Rawkus split from Geffen.
MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group, which the label was part of until its dissolution in 2003. The label's country division MCA Nashville is a still active imprint of Universal Music Group Nashville.
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. It was founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with Warner Music Group's Atlantic Records. At the time, it differed from most record companies by giving decision-making authority to its A&R staff and allowing artists and producers complete creative control. It had its first hit records less than a year after it was founded, and achieved profitability in 1993. Iovine served as chairman and CEO until May 2014, when he was succeeded by John Janick.
Geffen Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.
In 2006, Rawkus signed with RED, a Sony Music distribution company and reemerged with a new line up of notable independent hip hop artists.
Sony Music Entertainment (SME), known as Sony Music, is an American global music conglomerate owned by Sony and incorporated as a general partnership of Sony Music Holdings Inc. through Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, which in turn is a subsidiary of the Japanese Sony Corporation. It was originally founded in 1929 as American Record Corporation and renamed as Columbia Recording Corporation in 1938, following its acquisition by the Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1966, the company was reorganized to become CBS Records, and Sony Corporation bought the company in 1988, renaming it under its current name in 1991. In 2004, Sony and Bertelsmann established a 50-50 joint venture known as Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which transferred the businesses of Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group into one entity. However, in 2008, Sony acquired Bertelsmann's stake, and the company reverted to the SME name shortly after; the buyout allowed Sony to acquire all of BMG's labels, and led to the dissolution of BMG, which instead relaunched as BMG Rights Management.
In early 2007, Rawkus Records accepted album submissions from Hip Hop artists, known or unknown, to be considered for their new campaign. The 50 artists chosen to wear the Rawkus 50 badge were signed to a digital distribution deal through IODA's (Independent Online Distribution Alliance) digital distribution network and had their albums released under the banner "Rawkus 50 presents". Among the 50 were artists including Custom Made, L.E.G.A.C.Y. and Pizon.
The "Rawkus 50" marketing campaign saw the release of fifty digital hip-hop albums. They were all made available on 27th November, 2007.
Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is the only studio album by Black Star, a hip hop duo consisting of emcees Talib Kweli and Mos Def. The album was released on September 29, 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping line founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. The album deals with modern-day issues, philosophical ideas, and life in Brooklyn, New York City as the two artists know it.
Tony Cottrell, better known as Hi-Tek, is an American rapper and record producer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is best known for his work with Talib Kweli on their Reflection Eternal album and on Black Star. His father is singer Willie Cottrell of the Willie Cottrell Band whom Hi-Tek featured on his second release Hi-Teknology 2.
Reflection Eternal is an American hip hop duo composed of emcee Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek. They released their first album, Train of Thought, in 2000. They have since released a mixtape, The RE: Union, in late December 2009, and their second album Revolutions Per Minute was released May 18, 2010.
Quality is the debut studio album by American rapper Talib Kweli. The album was released on November 19, 2002, by Rawkus Records. It received wide critical acclaim and had some commercial appeal from the song "Get By", produced by Kanye West. Kludge magazine included it on their list of best albums of 2002.
Lamont Dorrell, known as Ayatollah, is a hip-hop record producer from Queens, New York who has produced for predominantly New York-based rappers including Mos Def, Talib Kweli, R.A. The Rugged Man, Tragedy Khadafi, Wordsworth, Vast Aire, Afu-Ra, Guru, M.O.P., Inspectah Deck, Cormega, Ghostface Killah as well as many others. R.A. the Rugged Man had said in an interview that he was the first person to ever buy a beat from Ayatollah. Broadly speaking Ayatollah's production encompasses a soulful, authentic east coast hip-hop sound which has brought him steady success and acclaim since the late 1990s.
Black Star is an American hip hop duo formed in 1997, from Brooklyn, New York City, New York. The duo is composed of rappers Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli. They released a number of singles and one album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star on August 26, 1998. The record received critical acclaim, but only moderate commercial success. Since then the duo has worked together intermittently on soundtracks and other projects.
Lyricist Lounge, Volume One is the first installment of Rawkus Records Lyricist Lounge album series, based on the Lyricist Lounge showcases in New York City. The double-disc compilation features De La Soul, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Tash of Tha Alkaholiks, Punch & Words, O.C., Ras Kass, Black Thought, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Saul Williams, Kool Keith, Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek, Bahamadia, Rah Digga, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Jurassic 5, KRS-One, Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Last Emperor and Company Flow.
Soundbombing III is the third installment of the Rawkus Records Soundbombing series. The album was not nearly as critically acclaimed as its predecessor Soundbombing 2, but was able to sell moderately well, led by the single "The Life", featuring Styles P and Pharoahe Monch which was sent to radio during the week of April 29, 2002. Taking after 2000's Lyricist Lounge 2, Soundbombing III furthers the label's transition to a more commercial sound, which caused harsh criticisms from die-hard Rawkus fans. The album features Styles P, Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, Skillz, Missy Elliott, Kool G Rap, Capone-N-Noreaga, Hi-Tek, Jonell, Method Man, Zap Mama, Talib Kweli, Common, Q-Tip, The Beatnuts, DJ Quik, Novel, The Roots, Cocoa Brovaz, Dawn Penn and R.A. The Rugged Man. The compilation is hosted by Cipha Sounds and Mr. Choc. The compilation contains many remixes of tracks already having appeared on earlier released albums, however the album does contain singles.
Best of Decade I: 1995–2005 is a compilation album, featuring singles released on Rawkus Records during their first ten years. The compilation revolves around the label's star Mos Def, who appears on eight of the fifteen tracks. There is one previously unreleased track featured on the album, which is the Mos Def song "Beef".
Hi-Teknology is the debut album from producer Hi-Tek, released on Rawkus Records. Most songs feature rapping or singing by other artists, and all are produced by Hi-Tek. A sequel, Hi-Teknology 2, was made for MCA Records but never released; a second Hi-Teknology 2 was recorded and released on Babygrande Records.
Anwar Superstar, born Anwar Khalil Prescott, is an American hip hop artist. He began rapping at the age of 14 on the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Anwar has battled MCs from across the US and abroad.
Train of Thought is the debut album of American hip hop duo Reflection Eternal, released October 17, 2000 on Rawkus Records. Collaborating as a duo, rapper Talib Kweli and DJ and hip hop producer Hi-Tek recorded the album during 1999 to 2000, following their individual musical work that gained notice in New York's underground scene during the late 1990s. Kweli had previously worked with rapper Mos Def as the duo Black Star, and Hi-Tek had served as producer on the duo's debut album.
The discography of Yasiin Bey / Mos Def, an American rapper, consists of four solo albums, two compilation albums, and several singles. Mos Def began his hip hop career in 1994 in the underground rap group UTD alongside his sibling group members DCQ and Ces, after which he pursued a solo career. In 1998, he made his mainstream debut on Rawkus Records in the trio Black Star with rapper Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek. "Definition", the single from Black Star's self-titled debut album, reached #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot Rap Singles chart.
Marcus Vialva, better known by his stage name Shabaam Sahdeeq, is an alternative hip hop artist from Brooklyn, New York. He first reached fame with Rawkus Records and was featured alongside artists including Busta Rhymes, Redman, Method Man, Kool G Rap, Common, Mos Def and Eminem. Shabaam Sahdeeq is notable for his work on the Soundbombing and Lyricist Lounge series in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. In 1998, Sahdeeq collaborated with DJ Spinna, Mr. Complex and Apani B to form the hip-hop collective Polyrhythm Addicts, a supergroup renowned for its pivotal role in the explosion of late 90's indie hip-hop. The single "Not Your Ordinary: gained a positive critical and commercial reception, which paved the way for their first album, Rhyme Related, released in 1999, and widely regarded as a hip-hop classic. After this success, the group disbanded to focus on their individual careers. Sahdeeq's distinct voice and unique delivery catapulted him to mainstream stardom on the "Simon Says" Remix alongside label mate Pharoahe Monch. He is currently releasing music independently. Shabaam Sahdeeq's recent work has been receiving rave reviews in some of the biggest hip-hop publications.
Revolutions per Minute is the second studio album by American hip hop duo Reflection Eternal, released May 18, 2010, on Blacksmith Records and Rawkus Records. Composed of rapper Talib Kweli and DJ/hip hop producer Hi-Tek, it is the duo's follow-up to their collaborative debut Train of Thought (2000).
"Just Begun" is a song by American hip hop duo Reflection Eternal, composed of New York rapper Talib Kweli and Ohio producer Hi-Tek. The song was released on February 2, 2010, as the second single from their second studio album Revolutions per Minute (2010). The song is a posse cut featuring verses from rappers Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def, the latter of which also forms a duo with Talib Kweli, known collectively as Black Star.
Soundbombing is a hip hop compilation album by Rawkus Records, released on October 14, 1997. The album helped launch the careers of Mos Def and Reflection Eternal, who later became Rawkus's most popular artists. Soundbombing is regarded as a "scene-defining" underground hip hop album.