Best Hip-Hop Record Labels

The Top Ten
1 Shady Records

Co-owned by Eminem since 1999, this record label found success with D-12, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, Yelawolf, Westside Boogie, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and now Eminem is helping develop Grip's career and success. He's also got Royce da 5'9" for Bad Meets Evil and Slaughterhouse. Eminem finds and signs high-quality underground artists whose work and rapping are interesting. Eminem wants to work with others. He's not greedy like some record labels seem to be.

Shady Records is an American record label founded in 1999 by rapper Eminem and his manager Paul Rosenberg after the highly successful release of Eminem's debut album.

These guys are always the best and will be the best. No more words to say because they don't care about us.

SHADY Records with Aftermath is dope.

2 Aftermath

Founded by Dr. Dre after he left Death Row Records in March 1996, he released The Aftermath compilation and The Firm's album (a supergroup consisting of AZ, Nas, and Foxy Brown). Death Row was still superior until Eminem got signed in 1998 and released his SSLP the following year, which saved the label from near bankruptcy. 2001 and The Marshall Mathers LP were released after that and were huge successes but caused controversy.

Then came 50 Cent, The Game, Busta Rhymes (yes, he was on the label), Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Paak. It still is and will always be the strongest rap label on the scene.

3 Death Row

This was so hard! It was between Def Jam, Death Row, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), Bad Boy, and Aftermath. But Death Row, without a doubt, had to be one of the best. With 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Dogg Pound with Kurupt and Daz, you also have Nate Dogg and Warren G reppin' 213.

This label might as well own all the classic albums: All Eyez on Me by 2Pac (1996), Doggystyle by Snoop (1993), and Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory by 2Pac (1996). And obviously the best album: The Chronic by Dr. Dre (1992). This created the West Coast G-Funk sound that everyone knows and loves, as well as having hard rap from the likes of Hit 'Em Up.

Shady Records did not have the same impact as Death Row. It sort of just got Eminem, 50 Cent, and D12. As much as TDE is the future with Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and artists like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, it still needs to fully develop. Bad Boy had Biggie, Puff, and Junior Mafia.

Aftermath and Def Jam were certainly the two closest. Firstly, Def Jam's list is a New Yorker's dream, with JAY-Z, Nas, Beastie Boys, and DMX. Then they signed Kanye West. Anyway, he made them money and is an okay rapper, but still isn't the classic all-star team of Death Row.

Now Aftermath was so close to it, I almost pressed the button at least once or twice. Dr. Dre starts from scratch but still manages to build up on the foundations he had at Death Row. Aftermath is taking over, signing the likes of Eminem in 1999, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, Hittman, and more.

However, the hits are amazing, from 2001 to The Eminem Show to Get Rich or Die Tryin' or even the documentary, but Death Row had the greats.

I know this is long, but one more point: If Suge Knight wasn't there, it would be so much better. He represented the fear that came with the name Death Row, but his legal troubles caused the downfall of this empire. Enough said.

4 Strange Music

An independent label that became a juggernaut capable of standing toe to toe with any label out there. Talented artists, loyal fan base, and a reach across the world. No other deserves the place of number one like Strange Music.

Strange Music Inc. is the upcoming new generation for the hip-hop legacy. They are going to take over, and if people don't realize now, they will soon. Big up, Strange!

Definitely deserves the top 2 with Shady. Talent-wise, no one can compete. Every artist on there would destroy any other labels. Besides Em, of course. Haha.

5 Def Jam

This was the first indie rap label with a major distribution contract, founded by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin.

Check out the movie Krush Groove to find out the history of this label. The first artist they signed was LL Cool J when he was 16 or 17. The first group was the Beastie Boys.

This label includes some of the greats like Nas, Beastie Boys, DMX, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, along with modern-day Def Jam artists like Kanye West, Pusha T, Rick Ross, and Young Jeezy. This is clearly one of the biggest and the best.

6 Top Dawg Entertainment

Top Dawg is a record label that nurtures young talent. If you're looking for some fresh artists with an old-school feel to their music - beats, lyrics, and flow - Top Dawg is your go-to. With Kendrick Lamar being the face of this label, how could it not ooze talent?

Up-and-coming artists include SZA, paving the way for alternative RnB with her soulful voice, incorporating funk, soul, and hip-hop influences in her music - a truly irresistible medley. Other artists include the critically acclaimed Isaiah Rashad, who draws inspiration from some of hip-hop's greatest, namely Jay-Z, Scarface, and OutKast.

7 Cash Money

Okay, so I'm not a big fan of these "rappers," but I admit this company is successful. The top artists in this group are Lil Wayne, Drake, Hot Boyz, and B.G.

People keep saying they screwed hip-hop up, but they don't look at the good rappers they brought up to fame. They should just shut up and enjoy what's good while it lasts.

Redefined rap to give us what we have now. The most directly influential label as of 2015.

8 Bad Boy

Unlike Death Row, Bad Boy is still going strong even after Biggie's death. They had Biggie, Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, Total, 112, Mase, The LOX, and Black Rob at first, and now have MGK and French Montana, even...

Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, and the Family are all legends in the making. This was truly a great label.

Iconic and classic record label that will forever be remembered.

9 Roc Nation

This is the early Jay-Z stuff before he went off to Def Jam. Along with Jay-Z, there was Kareem Burke and Dame.

New but definitely on the rise. Has a lot of potential.

10 GOOD Music

Kanye West is up there with Dre, DMX, and Pac. Kanye is one of, if not the greatest, of all time.

Incredible albums done through this corporation.

The Contenders
11 Ruff Ryders

New York hip-hop in the late '90s. Founded by the Dean brothers, the rappers include DMX, The L.O.X., and Swizz Beatz. However, this label has died down recently, and many rappers have moved on to other places.

DMX, LOX, Swizz Beatz, Jadakiss, Eve... Can you find a better combination of awesome rappers?

12 Dreamville

Dreamville creates a lot of classics, in my opinion. Dreamville has a pretty diverse background of people so far, and plus they're also an organization that gives back to the community of Fayetteville, NC.

J. Cole is leading up-and-coming artists like Bas, Omen, and Cozz. If you want to know what this record label is about, listen to Revenge of the Dreamers.

They have some of the best young talent in the game. If you're still sleeping on JID and EarthGang, you're missing out.

13 Funk Volume

I think it would have been the best in a couple of years, but now that Hopsin left, there is no future.

With many talented and recognized artists, Funk Volume creates very good music. FV til I die (Hopsin's song).

Strange Music, Top Dawg, and Funk Volume are the top three independent hip-hop record labels at the moment.

14 Loud Records
15 Ruthless Records

The first West Coast indie gangsta rap label. This is where Dr. Dre got his start producing records, founded by the late, great Eazy-E.

Eazy-E is the greatest rapper of all time!

Eazy, Dre, Cube, Yella, Ren - they were all amazing, made incredible music, and changed the music industry forever. They made a huge impact on gangsta rap.

16 Maybach Music Group

Wale is unlike other rappers. He has a unique flow and lyrics that emphasize the insignificance of material things like money.

17 OVO Sound

This record label is founded by one of the greatest rappers at the moment, Drake. These rappers have a rhythmic rapping style for all the ladies out there.

OVO is going to be at the top soon. Just wait for the takeover. Toronto forever!

It has Drake. I mean, come on now, he's about to be the new face of hip-hop.

18 Interscope Records

A great pick for hip-hop artists to sign to, offering much creative freedom. Look at these artists and how they achieved success.

This is the parent of all your favorite imprint labels. It funded and promoted projects by Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick, 50 Cent, ScHoolboy Q, Tupac, Snoop, The Game,, Tory Lanez, MGK, Cozz, Aloe Blacc, Pharrell, J. Cole, Busta, Jay Rock, etc., etc.

How come this isn't in the top 10? Are people growing deaf? This label is legendary!

19 Young Money Entertainment
20 Cold Chillin'

Responsible for some of the golden years of rap in the late '80s, albums were by classics like Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Kool G Rap, and MC Shan. The company folded, however, in '98.

21 Suave House

Tony Draper created the label in the '90s. Memphis duo 8Ball and MJG were signed in 1990. Other rappers include Tela, South Circle, and Crime Boss. However, in the early 2000s, 8Ball and MJG left the label, and it hasn't received the same success since.

22 Stones Throw Records

Absolutely amazing record label holding some of the greats, including Madlib, J Dilla, and MF DOOM.

23 Visionary Music Group

Though Visionary does not have many artists signed to it, I guarantee that the artists already signed will be known as the greatest of their time. Mark my words.

Logic got his start here, signed with Def Jam, and is going to be one of the top rappers in a year or two.

24 Majik Ninja Entertainment
25 Taylor Gang Records

Great record label with some of the best rappers of our generation.

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