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Rawkus: Who’d A Crunk It?

By a Gossiping Bitch on October 24th, 2005

Rawkus Records is officially back in business, but those expecting a return to the underground sounds that made them famous may be in for a bit of a surprise. The newly reactivated label today issued a press release stating that all operations will be moved from their original New York City headquarters to Memphis, Tennessee, an obvious attempt to capitalize on the resurgent Southern scene which has dominated the hip-hop landscape over the past few years.

Rawkus, the once dominant label in the late 90’s independent hip-hop boom, rose to prominence with a string of hit singles by the likes of Mos Def and some other people. The company would later try to parlay this success into mainstream money by paying popular artists to mail-in appearances on their records as well as convince their existing roster to take a more radio-friendly route. The plan failed miserably and Rawkus shut its doors in 2004, a move which many feel signaled the end of The Backpack Era of rap. “Since the day we closed, we’ve always planned to re-launch the label,” says profounder Jarret Meyer, “but we realized that we had to grow with our audience. All these college kids that were co-founder backpackers in the late 90’s have hopped on the Crunk bandwagon now. It just makes sense that we still target the same market that we had success with before.”

Many question whether Rawkus will be able to recapture their fan base of old while appealing to todays youth. Dartmouth Senior Sean Flanagan, for one, isn’t impressed: “Rawkus? Yeah, I heard of them. I think my older brother used to have a t-shirt or something like that. He used to always crack on the Juvenile CD I had in middle school, and always call me a ‘new jack’ or something like that. Now he won’t shut off that stupid Mike Jones song and keeps trying to tell me what’s ‘poppin in the clubs’ and whatever. It’s retarded.” When asked whether he’d be interested in the new and improved Rawkus he added, “Probably not — I mean, it’s not even really music. I pretty much got over that stuff once I discovered The Beatles.”

One hip-hop journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of being “promotionally blacklisted”, thinks the Rawkus relocation is a smart move: “Oh, it makes a lot of sense but it does smack of trying to jump on what’s ‘hot’ at the moment. Doesn’t mean it won’t work, though. Usually these types of rash moves by labels do tend to be a bit short-sighted so we’ll have to wait and see the long-term impact. But then again, who knows how much longer these kids will even be into the Southern sound to begin with.” He further clarified, “But, I mean, some of us have been down since day one. Ya know, K-Otix, Mass Influence…I’ve been reppin’ the Dirty Dirty for quite some time now.”

The label’s planned first release will be the fourth installment in their once popular Soundbombing mix series titled Soundbombing 4: Crunk’d and will be hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The album will come accompanied with a chopped and screwed version of the mix and will be priced at $6.99 for the double CD.

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