Weed and Hip Hop Culture Part 3 – Indie Labels
In the third installment in our series about weed and hip hop culture, we dive into the importance of indie hip hop and talk about some of our favorite labels.
Up until about Y2K, basically the only way you could make money from your records was to sign with a major label. Sure, plenty of talented artists have made a living as session musicians or by selling out live shows – but it can take a special breed to do that and not need some kind of day job. Whether they’re cooking the books, treating their artists like dirt with shady deals, or inflating the prices for fans, just about every major record label has done some shameful stuff. But this is just one reason why independent music is so important.
If you haven’t read our first two installments about weed and hip hop culture, be sure to check out parts one and two. These aren’t in any kind of chronological order, it just evolves organically, just as real hip hop does.
Why Independent Labels are Essential for Music Lovers
In an ideal world, all record labels throughout history would support, encourage, and empower artists while helping to shape their careers and their sound. Unfortunately, we know that’s not the case. Nowadays, most major record labels can basically be viewed as distribution engines and massive marketing engines. Nurturing the sound of an artist, if it was ever important, is a thing of the past. But with an indie label, artists are able to develop their craft – and if they are good enough, thrive in digital music culture. Indie labels are responsible for creating just about every sub-genre of music you can think of. It’s the lifeblood of the real, and in these uncertain times, that kind of genuine music as an art form is more important than ever.
Weed and Hip Hop Culture – Our Favorite Indie Label
Of course, there are plenty of dope indie hip hop labels, but our favorite happens to be Rhymesayers. Rhymesayers started 25 years ago in Minneapolis, co-founded by Slug and Ant of Atmosphere. Many amazing hip hop artists have come through the Rhymesayers label: like Brother Ali, Evidence, Dilated Peoples, Prof, Nikki Jean, Musab Aesop Rock, just to name a few. There would probably be no hip-hop scene in Minneapolis without Rhymesayers. Their record store in Fifth Element recently closed after more than twenty years of bringing some of the dopest hip hop to Minneapolis. That was a sad, sad day. This is the sad truth for brick-and-mortar record stores and comic book shops, even ones with backing from Hollywood directors and TV shows on AMC. But we’re doing our best to focus on the positives because there’s enough negativity out there.
Weed has always been a part of Rhymesayers. Musab talked about how sold weed in the early days, Slug made references to daily weed smoking on the headshots LP, weed is part of how they evolved, but still connected by signing acts like Evidence more recently.
Brother Ali, and Who’s Askin? A Textbook Definition of Brute Passion
Brother Ali doesn’t blaze, but weed definitely influenced the production on his latest album Secrets and Escapes, which came out last fall. This dope album was produced by Evidence, and was basically a stream of consciousness with Ali and Ev – which is as hip hop as you can get. According to the Rhymesayers website:
“Ev chopped up records on old-school samplers and ran them through a compressor (2 track) so they couldn’t be re-arranged or mixed. Brother Ali sat with the mic and spit rhymes as they came to him, without writing or organizing them into songs. Ev smoked a lot of weed, Ali prayed a lot, and their influences on each other can be heard in the recordings. Every time they made something that reminded them of what they’ve become known for, they threw it away and started something new.”
… Yo, if that doesn’t capture the very essence of what real hip hop is, nothing does.
Weed and Hip Hop Culture – Other Important Indie Labels
Naturally, Rhymesayers isn’t the only indie hip hop label. And of course, weed in hip hop culture permeates throughout much of the music. Some other important indie labels to check out include Quannum Projects, Top Dawg, Fool’s Gold, Mass Appeal, Stones Throw, and Strange Music. What’s your favorite indie hip hop label? We would love to hear it! When it comes to weed and hip hop, we are just getting started here at Loud News Net. We have a lot of dope articles about hip hop in our Loud Music section. From our first installment about the Way of Wu-Tang, to the Top 5 Hip Hop Stoner Producers, to a review of Evidence’s latest jawn Unlearning, hip hop is the backbone of Loud News. Check back often, because we will keep dropping articles just like this one.
Keep it Loud!
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed our third installment on Weed in Hop Hop culture about indie labels. Like what you’re seeing? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok – @loundnewsnet on all platforms. Keep it locked on LoudNewsNet.com, and check back often as we continue to grow our Loud Originals section. Let us know what you’d like to see us cover. Stay safe, stay dope, stay healthy Loud Fam! Peace!