How did we make this growth happen? In that time, we put out a gang of vinyls, albums, tapes, CDs, clothing, etc. (all of which you can check out on our site, if you don’t know our repertoire), and we constantly reinvested in ourselves and made sure our logo symbolized quality and forward-thinking music. I’m not a music critic and I can’t be at all objective about the records we put out, but we are craftsmen and we try to create exciting musical experiences. As little kids, we grew up with whole albums as experiences, sitting next to a speaker for an hour knowing you were about to experience a whole record, not fast forward through some shit. The time and effort we put into our music is what makes it timeless and makes people gravitate towards it.
As a result, we have one of the sickest global groups of fans who support everything we do; from live shows to recorded music to clothing. If you look at companies like Def Jux, Rhymesayers, Duck Down or Stones Throw; we all use a model of touring constantly, interacting with fans and selling our music hand to hand, while maintaining a traditional distribution chain for our products (CDs, vinyl, T-shirts, etc.) and maintaining a strong presence online. Leading up to working with Prince Paul (Souls), Tame One (Del), and Guilty Simpson (Opio) this year, we’ve always worked with like-minded artists when the fit made sense—like when Del collaborated with Gorillaz or Souls joined forces with Pharcyde to form Almyghty Myghty Pythons; and in the future we’re hoping for a Casual and Sean Price album!
Gorillaz feat. Del – “Clint Eastwood”
Opio feat. Guilty Simpson – “Some Superfly Shit”
I’ve taken the same strategy in my own Clear Label Media Group venture, which helps independent labels to expose the wealth of talent we have in the Bay. It frustrates me that when people think of underground, it usually means “backpack” rap music. There’s an underground in every genre and subgenre of music, talent that needs to be exposed to the world. I base my label on this variety, we’re from the Bay, the land of everything from Natural Four to Sly & the Family Stone, Tower of Power, Tony Toni Tone, to Too $hort, to Hieroglyphics—Oakland encompasses all this music. As an artist and as a member of this community, I wouldn’t be living up to my duty if I didn’t expose the world to all the talent out here in all of its variety.
Shady Nate – “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”
Chris Marsol – “3 In The Morning”
Deep Rooted – “Crazy”