After eight years in business and releasing such groundbreaking artists as Mos Def and Talib Kweli, seminal hip-hop label Rawkus Records is closing their doors.
According to sources, the label will officially shut down as of January 31.
“We all found out on Friday,” a source who wished to remain anonymous told AllHipHop.com.
After signing a joint venture deal with Geffen/Universal, the parent label opted not to renew the deal, leaving Rawkus without distribution.
“Everyone is getting laid off, right now,” the source continued. “They might get new distribution in the future, but as of now it’s done.”
Sources said the label will vacate their Broadway offices by the end of the month and certain artists will be absorbed by Geffen, but which artists weren’t known as of press time.
“It didn’t get critical until last year,” another source said. “We had a few albums we were working on. The ‘Just To Get By Single’ didn’t come out until February [of last year]. We had Novel [R&B solo artist], we had singles, we were gonna put out Pharaoh, we were busy. When the Geffen deal went down, we didn’t have any release dates.”
Rawkus was founded in 1996 by Brian Brater, Jarret Meyer and James Murdoch, son of billionaire investor and News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch.
“I have to give it up to them for help making me who I am,” a surprised Hi-Tek told AllHipHop.com. “They took chances and gave their life to underground hip-hop when no one else would. I really appreciate them. I think Rawkus was part of keeping real hip-hop music alive in its down times. I wish they would’ve stuck to it!”
The label released seminal hip-hop records during its eight year life, including critically acclaimed releases by Reflection Eternal, Company Flow, The High & Mighty, Hi-Tek, Black Star, the Soundbombing series and others.
“They should’ve stuck to their orignal formula and treated their artists better,” Hi-Tek said.
Source: All Hip Hop