4 Iconic Black-Owned Record Labels from Over the Years

Stevie Wonder and the Temptations

Music is captivating - listening to the ebb and flow of sound is a wonderful way to connect with the emotions running through us. Music provides us with many different benefits; it has the ability to reduce pain and create happiness. There’s an array of people who are involved when it comes to curating music. Lyricists, sound developers, and producers each bring their own creative outlook to the process.
Today, it’s not unheard of for an aspiring artist to release their music without the help of a label or professional recording studio. Even though these independent artists do exist, record labels are still the most common way for an artist to release music. A record label has the power to get people to listen and appreciate an artist’s work. Check out some of these past and present Black-owned record labels that have made their mark on the music industry.

Iconic Black-Owned Record Labels:

1. Black Swan Records
Opened in 1921, this is one of the most iconic Black-owned record labels out there. The first Black-owned record company in the United States, Black Swan Records “offered listeners a choice between the stereotypes […] and high-quality music meant to entertain and uplift.” At a time when most “Black music” was an offshoot of minstrel show tunes, this record label gave a true voice and sound to the Black population.

2. Motown Records
Founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy, Motown Records is an essential figure within African-American music production. Best known for popular R&B and soul music, Motown Records supported Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, and many other artists. Still putting out music today, Motown Records has stood the test of time; their artists range from Erykah Badu to Migos. Motown Records show that quality music and sound transcend all difficulties..

3. Sugar Hill Records
Sylvia Robinson started Sugar Hill Records in 1979. Sylvia decided to focus the label on hip-hop since disco music had just recently been declared dead. She recorded three rappers over a disco beat and caught everyone’s attention. Even though the label didn’t last long, true hip-hop lovers know the influence this label had on many hip-hop legends.

4. Cash Money Records
Founded in 1991 by two brothers, Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams, Cash Money Records was their ticket out of the projects and the chance to start living a more positive life. Consistently labeled as one of the most iconic and successful record companies in hip-hop history, they have a roster of prominent hip-hop artists. Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Drake are just a few of the successful artists associated with this label
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