Last I checked, the free world was immersed in a deep recession that’s got payrolls shrinking, along with the size of rappers’ Jesus pieces (*pause*). However, the folks over at Duck Down Records, the upstart label that brought you Black Moon and Smif-N-Wessun, have dusted off their nicest suits and gone on a signing rampage in spite of, or, perhaps, in response to, the current economic climate. With major labels less likely to take risks on artists without established fan bases and significant previous success, Duck Down has swooped in to take a chance on a number of acts that might, otherwise, be assed the fuck out.
Last year, Duck Down turned heads by signing UPENN grads and hipster-friendly duo Kidz in the Hall and subsequently releasing their disappointing sophomore album The In Crowd. Undeterred by this flop, they’ve gone on to bankroll a Buckshot + KRS One collabo, the Torae + Marco Polo album, super group Random Axe (Sean Price + Guilty Simpson + Black Milk), and sign NY private school one-hit wonders, Team Facelift.
While I’m all about Duck Down taking risks on unsigned, underground acts, I’m also skeptical whether Dru Ha and Buckshot actually feel a group like Team Facelift. Where do you draw the line between artistic integrity (or lack thereof) and a business decision? I feel similarly about the “legend” of Jay-Z co-signing Asher Roth: In that fateful meeting, did Jay-Z see him as the next great lyrical talent or simply as the Great White Hype, a vehicle to profit off of white suburbia. Maybe a little of both, but…If my life was on the line, I’d have to go with the latter. Ultimately, if signing some questionable artists facilitates more grimy, New York thuggery and, most importantly, if the product is good, I can’t really say shit about it!
MPFREE: Torae & Marco Polo – Lifetime (feat. DJ Revolution)