This blog entry is a look back at one of New Orleans's more obscure hip-hip labels, Tombstone. Tombstone Records was a notable New Orleans Rap label in the 1990s that released a handful of high caliber releases that sold over 100,000 albums around the South in three years before abruptly ceasing operations after a series of cataclysmic misfortunes.
It was founded by Elton “June” Wicker Jr. Most of the production was done by Merrill “Real Roc” Robinson, who also worked for Mobo. Other production was done by Ice Mike and the one-and-only Mannie Fresh. The label's biggest commercial success was the uncontested "Queen of Bounce," Cheeky Blakk, whose 1996 album Let Me Get That Outcha was a massive local hit for Tombstone before she jumped ship for Total Respect. Tombstone apparently operated on a shoestring budget with pleasingly dinky synths, cheap album covers and no music videos -- but unlike many local New Orleans labels of the 1990s, Tombstone seems to have been more fully committed to the compact disc format than most of their peers, forsaking the cassette for almost every artist.
Most of Parkway Pumpin's associates never got around to recording with the label. Artists like Fiend, Mac (as Lil Mac The Lyrical Midget), Mystikal Mike (as Mystikal), Mr. Serv-On and Da Hound (Da Gert Town Hounds/Full Blooded) all went on to record popular records at No Limit without having anything released in their time at Parkway Pumpin'. Only one future No Limit Soldier did, Soulja Slim.
Untouchable Records was one of the many New Orleans rap lables that sprang up in the early nineties after the advent of bounce. A small label with a roster of musicians that, for the most part, came and went as they pleased, they nonetheless featured some of New Orleans' biggest, most notable talents. It was
started by Al "Rock" Capone; he also handled some of the production of the mostly downtown roster.
Most of their production was handled by Gary "Ozone" McKee, as well as the Tombstone-associated Merrill "Real Roc" Robinson, and even Cash Money's prolific genius, Mannie Fresh.
The first release on the label was Raw II Survive's West Syde Gz, produced by Merrill "Real Roc" Robinson, L.O.G. and Swift. With titles like "Crippin' in da Darkness" and "West Syde Gz," you might assume that it has a west coast sound. Rest assured, it's unmistakably New Orleans. It's also solid but not especially memorable, perhaps hampered by its very low budget sound.
Also released in 1994, 9th ward rapper Pimp Dogg's Forever Loaded (produced by Double O, San Quin and L.O.G.) is the winner of the two. I'm not sure who influenced who, but it's got a gangsta bounce sound at times very similar to Fila Phil with the dynamics of Mr. Ivan and 6-shot.