In the late ‘90s, hip-hop’s dominance on the pop charts and in sales coincided with the resurgence of the independent label. Once a fringe genre, hip-hop’s commercial homogenization necessitated the fostering of alternative rap music.
During this same period, Son Doo Recordings cultivated a polished signature sound, distinct from both its popular and underground contemporaries. Son Doo tested the market in 1998 with its first single, “Old & Wise” by Yah Supreme. The 12” received rotation on college radio and commercial mix shows throughout the United States and Canada, including spins by California’s DJ Revolution, New York’s CM Famalam Show with Bobbito, and DJ Premier on NYC’s Hot 97 FM. Yah Supreme was also lauded on websites such as 88hiphop.com and hiphop.com. Son Doo’s debut single grabbed the attention of trade journals and consumer magazines alike, among them Impact, Hits, Urb, and Insomniac. The response promptly led to a deal through Fat Beats Distribution, affording the fledgling label domestic and international retail opportunities.
After releasing a video for “Old & Wise,” which aired on local video shows around the country and on “The Box,” Son Doo’s personnel concentrated on recruitment and development of recording artists. The stable expanded to include Oktober, Anom, Dee Surreal and Altered St8s of Consciousness. While these performers were being developed and recorded in 1999, Yah Supreme performed in New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and in the music documentary “Bristol To Bristol“ aired on HTV in the UK. Yah’s follow-up 12”, “Full Circle” reinforced the presence and potential of Son Doo. Fat Beats arranged an exclusive vinyl distribution deal with the label, and “Full Circle” was profiled in the millennium-ending issue of Vibe Magazine.
After having built an audience and channels of circulation, Son Doo was poised to release 12” singles monthly and a “Various Artists” compilation in the fall. The label sought to expand beyond vinyl to compact disc distribution and digital downloads, making its material accessible to a broader base. Along those lines, Son Doo continued to foster liaisons with distributors, publications and websites in international markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and France. Son Doo’s tangible credentials were indicative of its infinite potential to provide music listeners with a consistent, quality alternative to what was then considered “commercial hip-hop.”
Son Doo Recordings shuttered its doors in 2003. In its five-year tenure the label served as a springboard for its artists to be taken seriously from an industry perspective. Anom went on to release a full-length album produced by Cave Precise on Eastern Fiction Records. Oktober remained prolific, releasing a host of albums and singles–as did Lyfestile of Altered St8s. Yah Supreme has also remained active in the intervening years releasing his own LP and appearing in a number of collaborations with artists of varying genres and approaches.