Tommy Boy Records
|Tommy Boy Entertainment|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City, New York, U.S.|
Tommy Boy Entertainment is an American independent record label founded in 1981 by Tom Silverman. The label is credited with launching the music careers of Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, De La Soul, House of Pain, and Naughty By Nature. Tommy Boy is also credited with introducing genres such as EDM, Latin freestyle, and Latin hip hop to mainstream audiences in America.
History [ edit ]
Tom Silverman created Tommy Boy Music in 1981 in his New York City apartment with a $5,000 loan from his parents. The label was an outgrowth of Silverman's Dance Music Report bi-weekly publication, which spanned 14 years, beginning in September 1978.
1985–2002: Partnership with Warner Bros. Records [ edit ]
In 1985, Warner Bros. Records entered into a partnership with Tommy Boy and acquired half of the label, and it allowed the label to use independent distribution as it saw fit, with the option to distribute artists through the major-label channel through Warner Bros. Records or sister label Reprise Records.
A white female executive was president of the label in 1993. Her name was Monica Lynch, who was one of the first employees hired by Tom Silverman. As A&R for the label she signed and managed Queen Latifah, De La Soul, and host of hip hop luminaries. The legacy of women executives is generally lost on hip-hop fans.
Even though the male/female power struggle in rap music has always been present, Lynch and her peers say that the early days of hip-hop were magical times for women looking to make it in the record business. Julie Greenwald, Sylvia Robinson, DJ Jazzy Joyce, Mona Scott, and Claudine Joseph also made their mark on different areas of hip-hop. Greenwald and Robinson, like Lynch, became powerful music executives. For more than 25 years, DJ Jazzy Joyce has been one of the most visible and in-demand female turntablists. And Scott and Joseph have managed the careers of some of the biggest names in hip-hop. “Hip-hop provided a tremendous amount of opportunities for women, which might seem antithetical because of the association that many people have with misogyny and hip-hop,” says Lynch. “There has been a lot of attention paid to misogynist lyrics in hip-hop over the years, and I’m not going to defend or damn it. I think it exists, but some of the people who helped put those records out were women.”
According to Jeff "Chairman" Mao, a key DJ in 1990s underground hip-hop and online hip-hop radio host, Monica Lynch managed the careers of Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force, Stetsasonic, Queen Latifah, De La Soul, Naughty by Nature among others.
The label had several joint ventures in the mid 1990s including Penalty Recordings, Stepsun, Beyond, and Ignition. The label also had deals with labels such as Timber Records and distribution deals with Outcaste Records and 75 Ark.
In 1997, Tommy Boy launched an imprint label called Upaya to pursue the growing interest in spirituality and spiritual/world music. The imprint Tommy Boy Gospel was launched in 1998 under the direction of Max Seigel and Marvie Wright. That same year, the imprints Tommy Boy Black Label, which specialized in underground hip hop music, and Tommy Boy Silver Label, which specialized in dance music, were founded.
In 2002, as part of Warner, Tommy Boy formed Tommy Boy Films, a new TV and film division with Dubtitled Entertainment owner, Michael "Mic" Neumann, while also giving independent distribution to sister imprints that already had label deals with WEA, including American Recordings’ Ill Labels, Mute Records’ NovaMute, and Cold Chillin’s’ Livin’ Large.
2002–2017 [ edit ]
In 2002, Tommy Boy became independent again after it ended its joint venture with Warner Bros., which wanted greater unit sales, and the master tapes released until that time became property of Warner. The then-current Tommy Boy artists were shopped to the various WEA labels, the TV and film divisions were merged with the Tommy Boy music division and the resulting company was redubbed Tommy Boy Entertainment LLC, while the trademark remained with Silverman. The label then licensed its trademark to Warner for use on its reissues through Rhino/Atlantic.
2017–present [ edit ]
Because of Warner Music’s divestment requirements as a result of its purchase of Parlophone, Tommy Boy was able to reacquire its pre-2002 catalogue and the catalogues of Brand Nubian, Grand Puba, and Club Nouveau.
De La Soul controversy (2019) [ edit ]
Controversy rose in early 2019 after Tommy Boy announced the catalogue of its formerly signed group De La Soul would be available on streaming services later that week. This announcement prompted the group to begin a "Tommy Boycott" campaign, due to the fact that they would receive only 10% of revenue generated by streams, with the other 90% going to Tommy Boy. The campaign was shared by their fellow artists Nas, Questlove and Pete Rock, amongst others. In response, Tommy Boy postponed the deal and announced their discography would not be available on streaming services as previously scheduled.
Brand image [ edit ]
In the late 1980s, Tommy Boy distributed Carhartt jackets embroidered with its logo for promotional uses, shortly before marketing its own merchandise line to consumers called Tommy Boy Gear. The label is also credited as the first to use lanyards as promotional items.
Selected artists [ edit ]
- 808 State
- Afrika Bambaataa
- Above The Law
- Big Noyd
- Biz Markie
- Black By Demand
- Bob Sinclar
- The Cliks
- De La Soul
- Digital Underground
- Disco D
- Fresh Gordon
- Force MDs
- GLOBE & Whiz Kid
- Ghostface Killah
- Gucci Mane
- Handsome Boy Modeling School
- House of Pain
- Indo G
- Information Society
- Jocelyn Enriquez
- Jonzun Crew
- Junior Vasquez
- Kim Burrell
- Kristine W
- Lord Finesse
- J.C. Lodge
- Masters at Work
- Method Man
- Money Mike
- Naughty by Nature
- Paris (rapper)
- Planet Patrol
- Prince Paul
- Prince Rakeem
- Queen Latifah
- Royce da 5'9"
- Sneaker Pimps
- Soul Coughing
- Stars on 54
- Timmy Gatling
- Tony Touch
- Christian Tiger School
- PaRappa The Rapper
References [ edit ]
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- "Hey Get Down! Women Got Down, Too!". bust.com. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
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- Mao, Chairman; Sen, Raka. "The 50 Greatest Rap Logos 9. Tommy Boy Records". Complex. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
- "Tom Silverman". Midem. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
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- Wartofsky, Alona (29 July 1996). "ONLY THE HIPPEST HAVE KEY RINGS AROUND THE COLLAR". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 July 2017.