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Rawkus Records was established in 1996 by Brian Brater and Jarret Myer, with financial backing from James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch. In 1999 the label entered into a distribution deal with Priority Records.

Rawkus Records is an American hip-hop record label known for jump-starting the careers of both Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Rawkus started in 1996 with initial releases ranging from hip-hop to drum and bass. Label heads Brian Brater and Jarret Myer then signed some of the top underground talent from the New York area, notably Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek, and Company Flow, who went on to define the label’s sound. The string of 12” releases and full length albums that followed helped initiate a resurgence in the New York/East Coast sound. Many of these are considered classics among hip-hop aficionados. During the mid to late ’90s, Rawkus became a dominant label in the underground hip-hop scene, producing a string of gold albums and a platinum album with Mos Def’s Black On Both Sides.

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