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Duck Down, Home of the Originoo Backpackers

Yesterday we took a trip down memory lane with Rawkus Records, the epitome of New York’s underground in the modern rap era. Truthfully, there hasn’t been an independent outfit that has since matched Rawkus’ impact, but in the past few years Duck Down Records has grown by leaps and bounds.

Originally the label, headed by Dru Ha and Buckshot, was merely a home for Brooklyn’s Boot Camp Clik, which basically served as an extension of Black Moon. Now we can’t discount that after linking up with Priority Records for their first distro deal, Duck Down put out some dope albums like Heltah Skeltah’s Nocturnal and O.G.C.’s Da Storm. Still, with the label’s entire roster stemming from the Buckshot family tree, most never really thought of Duck Down as a legitimate label, or rather one that artists other than BCC members would want to sign to.

Duck Down started making some strides though when they released Buck and North Carolina beatsmith 9th Wonder’s collabo album Chemistry in 2005 and proved they could work with respected artists outside of their immediate circle. Then came the Ed O.G.-led trio Special Teamz. But when Dru and company went and signed Chicago’s Kidz In The Hall and dropped their sophomore album The In Crowd last year, things really started to change—in my mind at least. Albums by Cypress Hill’s B-Real, DJ Revolution, Marco Polo and Torae and Skyzoo followed.

Next week during the CMJ festival in NYC there will be an all Duck Down showcase. Seeing the flyer made me realize just how far the label has come. Buckshot, Sean Price, Smif-N-Wessun, Kidz In the Hall, Skyzoo, Marco and Torae are all scheduled to perform and I must say it’s a nice line-up. Originally I’d only check out Duck Down when I was in a Timberland and fatigues, Boot Camp sorta mood, now I find myself wondering who they’ll sign next. —Rob Markman

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