I recall a tweet stating that UK’s black music is currently going through their equivalence of a golden area. This was a time where American Hip-Hop transitioned from an upcoming underground scene, tailored to a specific niche audience, to becoming a dominant part of pop culture.
There has been no better time for prestige rappers to start their own labels and look to developing other talent. Artists such as Tinie Tempah who founded Disturbing London and Stormzy (founder of Merky) have nurtured and developed incredible artists. Both labels have partnered with Parlophone Records and Atlantic Records respectively.
The ‘Golden Age’ of hip hop music derived from the 20th century, where the emergence of hip hop became popular and statically proven as the most memorable music of all time. It was characterised for its diversity, storytelling and quality. Many successful record labels were birthed from this era.
Given the recent crackdown on drill videos posted on YouTube with the insinuation of violence from shows, I couldn’t help but draw similarity to that of the early days of NWA’s career, where they were pressured by law enforcement for their music, which at the time only led to the increase in awareness of hip hop music in the US.
This is something I believe we have witnessed within the UK drill scene over the last two years. I believe the police interventions and negative media coverage that tried to deter people away from this genre of music, have only resulted in the UK Drill culture growing at an even more alarming rate.
It was evident that pressure from law enforcement was not going to prevent the growth of this genre. Slowly, it began to takeover and become a deep-rooted part of American culture.
The rise and publicity only lead to more opportunities for the people within the culture. This eventually led to future moguls building their own legendary record companies, such as Death Row Records, La Face Records, So So Def, No Limit Records, Cash Money Records, Bad Boys Records and Aftermath Records, which all helped US hip hop further dominate and define the sound of American culture for decades.
This is a trend that still creates opportunities for people till today. with labels like LVRN, TDE, Dreamville, OVO and many more following suit from the foundations laid by those in the 90’s/00’s.
The black music scene in the UK is currently enjoying one of its most lucrative era since the So Solid Crew days. With afroswing and UK Drill leading the way, independent artists are able to garner millions of views on YouTube and even reach mainstream chart success. There is also a very promising underground scene that have many acts with barely any level of mainstream coverage or support, that are easily pulling 250-1000 people to shows across the country.
Slowly but surely, evidence of this change and transition is appearing in other sectors of the entertainment industry such as with Big Narstie’s show on channel 4 and Big Zuu’s show on the Dave channel.
With this overview, it is clear to see that the foundation has been placed. There has truly never been a time like this in the UK.
Below are some examples of American hip hop that went onto building successful record companies along with those in UK.
- Birdman gave us Cash Money Records (Birdman, Lil Wayne, BG, Turk and Juvenile) and Lil Wayne gave us YMCMB (Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga) and Drake gave us OVO (PND, Majid Jordan and DVSN)
- Dr Dre gave us Aftermath Records (Dr Dre and Eminem) and Eminem gave us Shady Records (Eminem, D12 and 50 Cent) and 50 Cent gave us G Unit Records (50 Cent, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and Lloyd Banks)
- Rick Ross gave us Maybach Music (Rick Ross, Gunplay, Wale and Meek Mill)
- Lil Bibby gave us Grade A Music (Lil Bibby, Juice Wrld and Kid Laroi)
- Young Thug gave us YSL Records (Young Thug, Gunna and Lil Keed)
- Kodak Black gave us Sniper Gang (Kodak Black and 22GZ)
- Tinie Tempah has given us Disturbing London (Tinie Tempah, Yxng Bane, Poundz and Kida Kudz)
- SK and TK gave us Finesse Foreva (AM, Skengdo, JB Made It, Gotcha and Ghosty)
- AbdiTV and Imjustbait (two UK based internet personalities) gave us WEAREBLK (SD Muni, J Fado and 24wavey)
- P Montana and DJ Funkz gave us Rah Boy Music (P Montana, Br3nya and Reeko Squeeze)
- Corleone gave us GB Records (Corleone, Dee Funo, Isong and Teezandos)
These artists are able to build a buzz and demand for their music independently and I am confident they could replicate this with other acts. There is high possibility that this becomes a successful trend in the UK, as our US counterparts have already set the blueprint.
Words by Finch Fetti