Top 5 Most Iconic Hip-Hop Record Labels

Back in the 1990s, music ruled the entertainment world and it was led by five legendary record labels. As the saying goes, “they don’t make ’em like they used to” – a statement that holds true to the way record labels were run in the 1990s and early 2000s. These five record labels were at the top of their games, and their artists became household names and some of the biggest entertainers in the world. These labels operated more like a family, and most artists would have done anything to be a part of the movement.

Number Five: No Limit Records (Notable artists- Master P, Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder, Mia X, Lil Romeo, Snoop Dogg, and Mystikal). No Limit had a really strong influence in music for about ten years. The southern label was led by CEO, founder, and rapper Master P. Before Cash Money became mainstream, No Limit put New Orleans on the map. Local New Orleans rappers C-Murder (Master P’s brother), Silkk the Shocker (Master P’s brother), and Mia X were some of the label’s brightest stars. Surprisingly, Master P was also able to sign Snoop Dogg and Mystikal to No Limit. Some of No Limit’s biggest hits include “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!” by Master P, Fiend, Silkk the Shocker, Mia X, and Mystikal, “He Did That” by Silkk the Shocker, and “I’m Bout It, Bout It” by TRU. Master P also started a film division, clothing and sneaker line under the No Limit brand.

Number Four: So So Def Recordings (Notable artists- Jagged Edge, Xscape, Bow Wow, Da Brat, and Kriss Kross). “Ya’ll know what this is,” was the perfect way of putting the stamp on So So Def’s music. So So Def was one of the few companies that had a very-well respected R&B and Hip-Hop record label. Jermaine Dupri was not only the CEO and founder of So So Def, but he was also one of the top producers in the music business. During its reign, the label sold millions of records and So So Def became synonymous with the city of Atlanta. Dupri is one of the reasons why artists started flocking to Atlanta, and it is still a city where artists can become superstars- as opposed to having to move to New York or Los Angeles.

Number Three: Cash Money Records (Notable artists- Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk). Even though Cash Money still has the biggest names in the game on their roster, there is a strong possibility Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Drake won’t be a part of the Cash Money label by 2016. Nonetheless, Cash Money was “the label” back in the 1990s. When Juvenile stated, “Cash Money taking over for the ’99 and 2000,” he wasn’t lying. The label ruled the charts with songs like “Back That Azz Up” by Juvenile, “#1 Stunna” by the Big Tymers, “Bling Bling” by B.G., and “HA” by Juvenile.

Number Two: Roc-A-Fella Records (Notable artists- Jay Z, Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Amil, Camron, and Memphis Bleek). How can you not have one of the top labels in music when your roster includes Jay Z and Kanye West? Even before West joined Roc-A-Fella, Jay Z ruled the music charts and he was the King of the label. Some of the albums the mogul dropped under the Roc-A-Fella moniker includes Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, In The Blueprint, and Volume 3… Life and Times of S. Carter. Even though it wasn’t just a hip hop label, most people considered Roc-A-Fella as one of the hottest rap labels in the 1990s. One of the company’s founders, Dame Dash, also spear-headed a Roc-A-Fella film division and clothing line.

Number One: Bad Boy Records (Notable artists- The Notorious B.I.G, P. Diddy, 112, Mase, Total, Faith Evans, French Montana, Danity Kane, and The Lox). When you heard P. Diddy say the words, “As we proceed, to give you what you need,” you knew it was going to be a hit song. During its epic run, Bad Boy dropped some of the biggest hits in music history. Every summer belonged to Bad Boy Records, and some of their smashes included “Mo Money Mo Problems” by Notorious B.I.G. featuring P. Diddy and Mase, “Only You” by 112, “Feel So Good” by Mase, and “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” by Diddy and Mase. Unlike some of the other record labels on this list, Bad Boy is still going strong and the company celebrated their 20th anniversary at this year’s BET Awards.