ONE of the great modern UK independent labels - Big Dada - celebrate their tenth birthday this year. With a mammoth retrospective, 'Well Deep: Ten Years of Big Dada Recordings' due to drop on 15th October, they've never been in finer fettle.
Founded in 1997 by former music journo Will Ashon, Big Dada was destined to be different from the start, bringing the best underground hip-hop from the UK and beyond to the hungry ears of those tired of mainstream rap. "It was a pretty poor time for mainstream hip-hop in '97," revealed Ashon. "I was getting a lot of interesting underground records from around the world that no-one could really get hold of, and I thought it would be nice, rather than reviewing records that no-one could get hold of, to work out a way of getting this music out to people a bit more readily."
With releases from Roots Manuva, Ty, Diplo, Spank Rock and Wiley, Big Dada was never going to be your conventional label - some could even question whether their releases are hip-hop at all. "We've always treated hip-hop as a broader concept than the purists might have liked. I like that feeling when you hear something and it's exhilarating. That's the first thing we look for at Big Dada, not, 'Is it UK hip-hop?' or 'Is it hip-hop at all?' Are people going to hear it and want to hear more?" opined Ashon. And with lots coming up, he's stoked about where the label's going.
"We've got this guy Cadence Weapon, his album's out now. There's a girl MC called Speech, she's got an amazing voice, incredible lyrics; and a new producer called X-Rabbit; and next year, something new from Roots Manuva and Diplo."
They're the dadas now!