Five Legendary Hip Hop Labels
The labels behind some of the most iconic hip hop albums of all time
The original hip hop record labels were formed when mainstream labels couldn’t (or wouldn’t!) get their heads around the new emerging music and voice of black America. And as we at Mad on Yas Island are famous for our love of hip hop and R&B, this week we’re paying homage to the legendary labels that launched the sounds you get down to at the best club Abu Dhabi loves.
The label was born in New York and championed hip-hop during the late ’90s. Founded by brothers Darrin ‘Dee’ Dean and Joaquin “Waah” Dean, they managed DMX and The L.O.X and went on to sign a distribution deal with Interscope Records.
Created by Tyrone Williams, Cold Chillin’ released albums by Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Kool G. Rap and MC Shan. However, their release of Ice T’s Cop Killer meant Warner Bros. and Time Warner cut ties with the label leaving it to flounder and eventually close in 1998.
Diddy’s label is responsible for some of the most famous albums in hip-hop history, including The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die and Life After Death.
Started by Suge Knight in 1991, Death Row released Dr. Dre’s The Chronic in 1992 and Snoop Dogg’s mega-selling Doggystyle. They also famously signed 2 Pac in 1995. After many legal woes, and Suge’s stint in prison, the label filed for bankruptcy in 2006.
Bryan and Ronald Williams started Cash Money Records in 1991 and released No Limit. They followed up with Juvenile’s 400 Degreez and top selling albums by the Hot Boyz, B.G. and Lil Wayne. The latter’s Tha Carter albums, along with signings Drake and Nicki Minaj has made it one of the most successful independent hip-hop labels of today.