There are so many black-owned music labels in history to write about but to know the full successful stories of some of those companies is far more exciting. Understanding their story is not just intriguing, but inspiring as well. Here are my top 5 Black-Owned Music labels that will captivate your interest:
1. Motown Records (founder: Berry Gordy – 1959)
Motor and town, Motown Records was so essential to African-American production. Not just in their music but to all people who were in the music industry at the time. It is best known for R&B and Soul. Unforgettable music and quality artists of all time like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, Lionel Richie, Rick James, Boyz II Men and much more are Motown Records contributors. But of course, we can’t forget to thank Motown for all those number one singles on both R&B and Pop charts.
2. Sugar Hill Records and its predecessor, All-Platinum Records. (founder: Sylvia Robinson Sugar Hill – 1979; All-Platinum – 1967, with her husband Joe Robinson)
Sylvia Robinson is a singer who just decided to make her own label. She wanted to be something different, so she decided to record 3 rappers over a disco beat and it actually got people’s attention.
3. Philadelphia International Records (founders: Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff – 1971)
It has produced some of the most fascinating musicians of all time. Their music was linked since to the great American city who’s name the label bore and where the said studio is based. Their best-known musicians include The OJays, MFSB, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, The Trammps, Archie Bell & the Drells, and McFadden & Whitehead.
4. Def Jam Records (founders: Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin – 1983)
These people are the reasons why many of us today were so in love with hip-hop and rap music. In 1990’s, Jay-Z, the most commercially successful rapper of all time, was associated with the company.
5. Cash Money Records (founders: Bryan (Birdman) Williams and his brother, Ronald (Slim) Williams – 1991)
Well-known for having so many successful commercials, this label, is estimated to be worth $300 million USD. Great singers/rappers such as Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne have led this label to be defined as one of the most recognizable and successful labels in hip-hop history. Since then, it continually ran the road of success until in 2015, when Wayne stated that he is leaving the label with Drake and Nicki Minaj due to some unpaid issues with the label.