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Rap and Hip Hop Resources: '90s Record Labels

A guide to finding resources for rap and hip hop research

Record Labels

Tommy Boy and Def Jam were well established hip-hop labels in the '90s that continued to produce records by top artists. With the emergence of gangsta rap, two labels, Priority and Death Row Records, gained prominence.

According to All Music Guide to Hip-Hop, Priority Records "went down in history as the label that had the guts to sign N.W.A. in the late '80s and let the controversial gangsta rappers say what they wanted" (583). The label did not start as a rap label; when it began in 1985 Priority produced compilation albums but began a transformation in the late '80s. Priority's new route lead them to produce new recordings by new artists, N.W.A. being the biggest endeavour.

After N.W.A. broke up Dr. Dre and Suge Knight formed Death Row Records; it became the one of the most influential gangsta rap labels of the '90s (All Music 581). They produced many influential records, the first of which was Dr. Dre's The Chronic.

You can do a search of the library's catalog to see all of the LPs we have on a given label.

  • Go to the online catalog
  • Click on the tab that says NUMBERS
  • Click on the tab that says LOCAL CALL #
  • Type in "12/33Priority" or "CDDeathRow" (or use the name of another label)

"12/33" is the call number we use to indicate that something is a record, and "Priority" indicates the record label!


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