Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Early 1990's Record Label Promo Postcards [Outkast, Artifacts, Willie D, Insane Poetry, The Legion]

Posted by Billyjam, September 22, 2015 08:16pm | Post a Comment

Above and below are the two sides of the promo postcard from Big Beat Records from 1994 that was part of the Atlantic Records distributed label's big promotional push for The Artifacts' 12" single/maxi-cassette/CD release "Wrong Side Of The Tracks." That five star track was released in advance of and taken off the NJ duo's act's album, that was reissued on vinyl two years ago by Fat Beats, Between A Rock And A Hard Place. The postcard is one of several 1990's promo postcards featured in this Hip-Hop History Amoeblog that includes postcards from two decades ago from the first half of the nineties - the
golden era of rap/hip-hop label promotions. While indeed in the 1980's, record labels were releasing a good deal hip-hop singles (and to a lesser extent hip-hop albums) publicity and promotional departments had not yet been fully developed at most labels. The promotional push for '80's hip-hop, while certainly in existence, was sparse and limited to the select few major labels with rap acts and the larger majority of the field filled with smaller indie record labels. These small often regionalized rap labels typically released 12" singles only and as their respective promo pushes typically targeted retail outlets or their distributors, or the record pools that DJs were members of. The promo/publicity was usually advertisements in select trade publications while their promotional pushes would be aimed at DJs via record pools or sometimes radio stations. By the time 80's ended and 1990's decade began, the marketplace had changed dramatically with promo campaigns directed at retail, radio, and other media (print, video) becoming more commonplace. 

The front of that Artifacts promo postcard above for the "Brick City" (Newark, NJ) hip-hop crew, comprised of (the still active in hip-hop) El Da Sensei, Tame One and DJ Kaos, maxi single "Wrong Side Of The Tracks" is distinguishable for its colorful eye-catching hip-hop rooted graf cover art. Truly a hip-hop classic! While most hip-hop fans remember the NJ crew the Artifacts, some may have forgotten Bronx trio The Legion from that same era in East Coast hip-hop. Or perhaps they are remembered if only because of their Black Sheep affiliation.  The NYC trio, who featured members Molecules, Cee-Low, and Chucky Smash, made a lil splash on the hip-hop scene in the 90's with such releases as their 1993 12" single "Jingle Jangle" culled from their sole album release "Theme + Echo = Krill" that, released in 1994, featured  some production by Black Sheep's Dres and Mista Lawnge, as well as D.I.T.C.'s Showbiz. One Love Records was the small label responsible for the record released through Mercury/Polygram Records who promoted "The krill debut from The Legion" as "Fat beats from the Bronx."

Meantime in promoting pioneering LA horrorcore act Insane Poetry's 1992 single "How You Gonna Reason With A Psycho?!" Seattle WA's Nastymix Records sent the postcard (below) out to radio and retail that wrote "Insane Poetry wants to know. How You Gonna Reason With A Psycho?"

"Exploding at radio and retail" hyped the promo department at Priority Records in their push of Rap-A-Lot artist of the Geto Boys fame Willie D's 1992 single "Clean Up Man" that was
promoted as "the answer to Betty Wright's 'Clean up Woman'" that it sampled and culled from the unnamed "forthcoming album" (the artist's second solo album I'm Goin' Out Lika Soldier that would be released two months later in first week of September) and "featuring the controversial new single about the violence in L.A." Scroll down to see the postcard below that was sent out on the Texas artist who was under jas management  at the time.

Finally for Outkast's 1993 single "Players Club" (reissued in recent times as a 10") Babyface's founded Atlantic distributed LeFace Records sent out an invite postcard (below) to "All the Players and Phatt Macks" encouraging them to "enjoy the flava" and advising them at a time that "When the mood is on" that "Outkast and LeFace Records invites you to the phattest players ball of the season…..all the players came from far and wide" and that this vaguely described event would take place on Christmas Day.

At the time I recall some DJs who received the card mistakenly thinking it was an actual party that would take place on Christmas Day. It was merely repeating or cross referencing the ATL crew's song's "Player's Club" lyrics whose chorus went "All the players came from far and wide. Wearing afros and braids in every gangstar ride. Now I'm here to tell ya there's a better day. When the Player's Ball is happenin' on Christmas day!"


Relevant Tags

The Legion (2), Hip-hop History Tuesdays (44), Hip-hop History Early 1990's (2), Willie D (2), Black Sheep The Legion (1), Outkast (10), Geto Boys (6), Insane Poetry (1)