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Hip Hop Labels: Jive/Zomba

by Travis on November 13, 2008

WYDU Presents: The Jive Collection

01 Boogie Down Productions – My Philosophy (extended remix)
02 Whodini – Friends
03 Kool Moe Dee – Rise ‘N’ Shine
04 A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum (hoochie mix)
05 Steady B – Let The Hustlers Play
06 Schoolly D – Smoke Some Kill
07 Skinny Boys – Jock Box
08 Casual – That’s How It Is
09 MC Pooh – Funky As I Want To Be
10 Too Short – Life Is Too Short
11 Kool Rock Jay & DJ Slice – Tales From the Dope Side
13 Ant Banks – Late Night Fuck
14 D-Nice – 25 Ta Life
15 Doctor Ice – Sue Me!
16 Fu-Schnickens – Sneakin Up On Ya
17 Souls of Mischief – Thats When Ya Lost (Remix)
18 Casual – That’s How It Is Part II with A-Plus
19 Spice 1 – Let It Be Known
20 Boogie Down Productions – Jack of Spades (Extended Mix)
21 A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It (Phase 5 mix)
22 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Live at Union Square (November 1986)
23 Spice 1 – 1-900-S.P.I.C.E.

Winner of the Audible Treats Prize pack for answering Tues. Question Correctly (which you all had an extra day for)


Thanks to all those you have answered and if you won something last month and haven’t yet got your prize yet, those should be going out by tomorrow.

The Next Few Weeks….

Industry rule #4080 “Record company people are shady,” that’s what we’ve been taught from day one. Tribe said it, so it has to be true, right? Well, yes, I’m sure there are many, many reasons to be a little skeptical of record labels, especially in this day of age when they’ve forced fed sub par music down our throats. But, while they’ve screwed over countless artists, they’ve also been responsible for getting great music to our stores and into our homes so we could listen to it. At a time in the the 80′s up to the late 90′s, before the independents and the onslaught of DIY (Do It Yourself) type of steez, you had to be connected with a label for your music to be heard. While they were screwing the artist and screwing the consumer as well, if out them, we would be without many classic albums.

Throughout the history of hip hop, there have been certain labels that well forever been associated with great music. Labels such as Def Jam, Rap-A-Lot, and Delicious Vinyl were such ground breaking and frontier pushers that they too have permantely cemented their legacies into the hip hop lore. For the next few weeks, we are going to cover some of the historic labels such as Delicious Vinyl, Rap-A-Lot, Wild Pitch, Big Beat, Luke (Skyywalker) Records and some others fairly prominent labels that been important part of hip hop history, either by the mark they made or the artists they released, these labels will always be a key part of hip hop’s history.

Jive Records/Zomba

The first label we are going to cover is a fairly major label, in terms of the backing they had and who they were associated with. Jive/Zomba was a label that easily had some of the best acts in the late 80′s and early 90′s. They were a label that was responsible for a wide range of different acts such as Whodini, Too Short, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and Boogie Down Productions. Originally one of (if not) the largest independent record labels in the world, Zomba Records Ltd. has since been bought out by BMG in 2002, which in turn, Sony owns. The path this whole outcome took was a long winding road.

The Start

The journey started way back in 1977 (or in some accounts 1975) when two South Africans by the name of Clive Calder and Ralph Simon started up the Zomba record label in London. The two were both aspiring musicians, Calder a bass player and Simon a keyboarder and were looking for a way to release music, promote concerts and publish music. The name “Zomba” was taken from the Capital of the African country Malawi. In 1978, the two would expand their business to New York City. In 1981, Jive Records was born, which would be under the parent company of Zomba. Named after Township Jive, a form of African music and dance, Jive would find early success in the realms of hip hop by signing Whodini, who would be a vital group in the mainstream hip hop movement along with Run DMC and Fat Boys as establishing hip hop as a viable music to be heard nationwide. The albums, Escape and Black in Black both scored platinum plaques while Open Sesame went gold.

The Peak

From the get go, Arista was responsible for the label’s distribution. Clive Davis, who was in charge of Arista at the time wasn’t a big fan of hip hop at the time, probably was responsible for the label not getting to heavy into the hip hop realm despite Whodini’s success. In 1987 though, Jive would switch to RCA. This marks the time when Jive would get heavily into the hip hop game.
They would sign artists such as Too Short, Schoolly D, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and Boogie Down Productions. They found great commercial success with a few acts, “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper” sold 3x platinum and Too Short’s “Life is…Too Short” went double platinum. Other groups such as Kool Rock Jay & DJ Slice, Doctor Ice, and Skinny Boys, really never got out the chutes.

The Later Years (what is worthy enough to mention)

By 1990, EMI was pursuing Zomba fairly heavily, so BMG (who owned RCA) purchased a large minority stake in the label. They would buy more shares later in 1996 and by 2001, BMG/RCA would purchase Jive Records for 2 Billion dollars, thus ending Jive’s run as an independent label.. In 2004, BMG and Sony merged, with the Sony name being installed.

As I mentioned Jive has been behind many a classic album. Everything from “By All Means Necessary” to the first three Tribe albums, to overlook their contribution to the hip hop game would be unfortunate. They’ve also been behind some classics that only the true hip hop heads would latch on to, such as the Steady B releases and Schoolly D’s stuff and the three Skinny Boys albums. It my younger day, if I say that Jive logo on a tape, I bought it pretty much. True, the label has had it’s problems, with both KRS and Tribe throwing some jabs at the label in the past, but the bottom line is, when Jive was an independent (even though it had some big dogs behind it), it had a hellva roster. It’s one of those labels that it’s legacy gets lost in the grand scheme of things. We’ll just forgot about the pop garbage they have resorted to putting out in the late 90′s and the new century.

Artists Signed to Jive in the Past (Missing some? Let me know!)

A Tribe Called Quest
Ant Banks
Boogie Down Productions
Crustified Dibbs (R.A. The Rugged Man’s group. He would be booted from the label for supposedly sexually harrassing a label secatary, reportedly pulling his dick out for her)
Celly Cel, B-Legit, The Click, E-40 (all with Sick Wid It and Jive)
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Doctor Ice
Jazzy Jeff (not the D.J., released 1985′s On Fire LP)
Kool Moe Dee
Kool Rock Jay & DJ Slice
Mr. Lee
Ms. Melodie
Mobb Deep (Infamous/Jive)
Keith Murray
Petey Pablo
Pooh Man
Schoolly D
Skinny Boys
Souls of Mischief
Spice 1
Steady B
Wee Papa Girl Rappers
White Boy Mike & D.J. The Boy

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