Investigative Reports: Breaking Down GZA’s “Labels”
Last month I saw a tweet that I found to be very interesting, and shocking. My respected colleague, and a fellow hip-hop purist, Combat Jack, [attorney, author, king of marketing strategies] claimed that 85% of the record labels mentioned in GZA’s classic 1995 cut “Labels,” are no longer around.
Compelled by this nugget of rap nerdery, I retweeted, highly impressed that someone had dissected his lyrics and analyzed the current status of each label mentioned. Taking into consideration the obvious shift from the physical state of the record business to the digital era in which we now live, 85 percent seems like a pretty logical number, right? I mean, think about how different the rap game has become in the seventeen years since the release of GZA’s Liquid Swords. Ipods have replaced the Walkman, iTunes is your new neighborhood record store. It’s a new – and sometimes cold – world.
So, it’s feasible that almost two decades later, due to mergers, absorption, and the crumbling market of physical distribution, that only a few of those labels still exist. But only 15% of them still around? That’s a tough number to digest.
With today being GZA’s birthday, and with my fondness for doing tributes celebrating oft-ignored hip-hop moments (here and here), I figured it was a good time to not only honor Gary Grice’s 46th trip around the sun, but to quench my own rap nerd curiosity.
Now, in no way, shape or form am I doubting my boy Combat’s knowledge. But being the “Hip Hop Stat Boy” that I am, I figured it was only right to investigate these claims and do the knowledge on my own abacus.
So after quite a bit of research, here’s what we came up with. Read the labels and say it Loud! [Read More]