Rhymesayers Entertainment Celebrates 20 Years Of Indie Hip-Hop

indie hip hop label

In 1995, DJ Brent “Stress” Sayers and rapper Sean “Slug” Daley formed Rhymesayers in Minneapolis (the name was partly inspired by Stress’ surname). It was a venture that consisted of the usual neighborhood hustles — organizing shows with their Headshots crew and making Headshots tapes for fans. It was part of a wave of subterranean, local scenes that flourished in the mid ‘90s, nurtured by protean Internet chat rooms and college radio stations. Homegrown collectives like Rhymesayers, with its DIY ethos, seemed hopelessly removed from the mainstream, and distinctly distanced from the East Coast and West Coast rap conflicts that threatened to tear the industry apart.

Two decades later, Rhymesayers Entertainment is planning “Rhymesayers20,” an anniversary concert December 4 at Minneapolis’ Target Center, with tickets going for the egalitarian price of $20. More than two-dozen artists from the label’s history will appear, including early Headshots member and rapper Musab (then known as Beyond), and newer signees such as Prof and deM atlaS. To commemorate the event, Rhymesayers released an 80-track compilation of essential cuts in November.

In the late ‘90s, Rhymesayers was one of the first companies (along with Stones Throw, Hiero Imperium, Solesides/Quannum and a few others) to recognize the self-sustaining indie-rock model created by Sub Pop and Matador could be successfully adopted within hip-hop. Part of that model requires Rhymesayers to take a multitude of paths: they receive scant national press attention, yet are able to sustain a healthy following; its artists tour constantly and they’re supported by a web store stocked with merchandise and limited edition items; fan events like the annual hometown Soundset Festival held on Memorial Day weekend serve equally as a show of gratitude as well as a means to draw in new fans. This all means that, unlike, say, G.O.O.D. Music and Maybach Music Group, Rhymesayers’ income stream isn’t dependent on a major label’s marketing support. As a result, it has inspired other hip-hop labels, such as Mello Music Group, that want to reach a wide audience but don’t necessarily have artists with pop potential (Red Pill, Mr. Lif, Apollo Brown).

Throughout its history, Rhymesayers has released significant work that demands the audience expand its understanding of rap beyond Internet trends and pop juggernauts in favor of a view that encompasses all aspects of the culture.

Taken from news.rhapsody.com

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