Now, when I say “best” I mean these particular record labels produce what I consider some of the best underground hip-hop artists ever. My inspiration for this particular post came when I was researching Junk Science (Def Jux Records), a group I came across about two years ago. From there I started thinking about all the great hip-hop artists I’ve come across over the past few years and all of their connections. So, here we are with what I consider the best indie hip-hop labels.
Alright, so Mush Records might not be a solely hip-hop label, with artists like Her Space Holiday, but I mention them as one of the best because they were the springboard for some of the more prominent underground hip-hop artists. Both Aesop Rock and Busdriver started out with Mush Records along with artists like Daedelus, who is beyond awesome but more experimental electronic, that often have hip-hop collaborators. In fact, the song “Experience” was sampled for the Madvillain song “Accordion”.
Definitive Jux Records
Def Jux, as it is commonly known, is definitely home to the grittier underground artists in the genre. Artists include Del the Funky Homosapien, Dizzee Rascal, RJD2, Aesop Rock, Cage, Junk Science, and Cannibal Ox. The Cold Vein, which is probably the most influential underground hip-hop album of all time, was a product of Cannibal Ox under the Def Jux label which is why, in my opinion, they deserve to be one of the best.
Stones Throw Records
Stones Throw has managed to amass some of the best producers and rappers in the business. It is hard to imagine the underground hip-hop landscape without the likes of Madvillain (producer Madlib and MF DOOM) or J. Dilla, who some argue to be one of the best hip-hop producers that ever lived. A large part of the label’s success lies with Peanut Butter Wolf who helped discover artists like James Pants, Koushik, and Oh No.
To wrap it up, I really hope those of you that aren’t as exposed to this genre check out a few of the artists.
Cannibal Ox – “The F Word”
J. Dilla – “Nothing Like This”
Madvillain – “Accordion”
Aesop Rock – “None Shall Pass”