Historic hip-hop imprint Priority Records has been given a new lease on life, this time as a producer-centric electronic music and progressive urban music label. A joint venture of Insurgency Music and Capitol Music Group, the refurbished label will be headed by Insurgency co-founder Michael Cohen, the two companies announced July 22.
Operating out of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, the new-look Priority will officially launch in August with single “Higher,” a collaboration between hip-hop beatmaker Just Blaze, “Harlem Shake” creator Baauer and Jay Z.
As Cohen explained in a statement: “We are looking to establish the new Priority as a home for producers. The emergence of the producer as an artist and brand within the global electronic music scene and beyond has heralded a paradigm shift in the way music is created, discovered and spread. We are firm believers in nurturing artists and scenes that develop in the underground, and we intend to infuse the label with the most progressive artists we can find, wherever they may be.”
Founded in 1985 in Los Angeles, Priority first hit paydirt with novelty releases from the California Raisins, but it was as a hip-hop imprint that it truly made its mark. The label released such landmark gangsta rap albums as N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” and Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted,” and later forged a hugely successful alliance with Master P’s No Limit Records in the mid-1990s. Priority pacted with EMI in the 1990s and was eventually merged into Capitol.
Priority releases will be distributed by Caroline in the U.S., with parent company Universal Music Group handling international.