Priority Records is an American distribution company and record label[1][2] known for artists including N.W.A, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E, Master P, Snoop Dogg, Silkk the Shocker, Jay-Z, Paris, Mack 10, 504 Boyz, Brotha Lynch Hung, C-Murder, Mia X, Westside Connection, and Ice-T.[1] It also distributed hip hop record labels including Death Row Records,[3][4] Hoo-Bangin' Records,[5][6] No Limit Records,[7] Posthuman Records,[8] Rap-A-Lot Records,[9][10] Rawkus Records,[11][12] Roc-A-Fella Records,[13] Ruthless Records[14][15] Duck Down Records, and Wu-Tang Records.[16] According to Billboard, "few record labels were as important to the rise of West Coast hip hop as Priority Records."[17]

Priority Records
Parent companyUniversal Music Group
Founded1985; 39 years ago (1985)
Distributor(s)Capitol Records
GenreVarious, with a focus on hip hop
Country of originU.S.
LocationLos Angeles, California, U.S.

Company history


Beginnings (1985–1996)


The Los Angeles-based company (with no ties or relations to a previous Priority Records label that was a subsidiary of what was then CBS Records) was formed in 1985 by three former K-tel executives: Bryan Turner, Mark Cerami and Steve Drath.[18][19] Initial funding was provided by R-tek,[20] a company headed by former K-tel board members: Ray and Harold Kives, and their company took an initial 50% ownership in Priority. Priority bought out the R-tek interest in 1987.

Its first success came with novelty act the California Raisins.[15][21] To support early operations, Priority Records licensed repertoire from others and released compilation albums using archive recordings while developing its own artist roster.[22] Priority Records achieved success as an independent label by developing a precedent-setting "street-based" formula of underground marketing which bypassed mainstream radio.[23][citation needed] This approach allowed Priority to sell millions of records without entering into the fiercely competitive major label battles over radio airplay.[citation needed] Priority's strategic marketing team was developed by Vice President Alyssa Pisano, who led Priority's Marketing and Creative Services Department between 1987 and 1996. Priority's roster featured numerous gold, platinum and multi-platinum artists, including N.W.A, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E, Master P, Snoop Dogg, Silkk the Shocker, Jay-Z, Paris, Mack 10, 504 Boyz, Brotha Lynch Hung C-Murder, Mia X, Westside Connection, No Limit and Ice-T.

Priority distributed rapper Jay-Z's debut album, Reasonable Doubt, in June 1996 with Jay-Z's company Roc-A-Fella Records. The album was a critical success, but a minor success upon release, selling 43,000 copies in its first week and 420,000 copies altogether.[24][25] It was ultimately certified Platinum by the RIAA. Reasonable Doubt was Roc-A-Fella and Jay-Z's only album with Priority Records.

EMI acquisition (1996–2004)


In the early 1990s, the label struck up a distribution deal with EMI, while continuing to operate independently. EMI bought a 50% stake in Priority in 1996, and the remainder in 1998.

In 1997, Priority released the I'm Bout It soundtrack by No Limit Records. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting and peaking in the top 5 on the Billboard 200. It sold 300,000 copies in its first week, and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.

In 1999, Priority and No Limit Silkk the Shocker's January 1999 release, Made Man, which debuted and peaked at #1 on the US Billboard 200. The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA.

Despite EMI's full ownership, Priority continued to be an independently managed company until 2001, when its operations were merged into EMI's major US subsidiary, Capitol Records. Priority was absorbed into Capitol Records in 2004 and ceased operations.[26][17]

Relaunch (2006–2013)


In late 2006, EMI revived Priority Records, and it was supposed to start releasing new records again but never did except for a couple compilation and greatest hits albums from the likes of N.W.A, Westside Connection, Mack 10, and Ice Cube. In 2009, Snoop Dogg was appointed creative chairman of the label; Priority released Snoop Dogg's tenth studio album, Malice N Wonderland on December 8, 2009.[27] In July 2013, Priority was re-launched via a joint venture between Capitol Records and Insurgency Music. Based at the Capitol Records Building in Los Angeles, the new Priority Records was a producer centric label that focused on a broader array of music genres, including electronic music as well as urban music.[21][28] The lone release under Priority's first relaunch was Snoop Dogg's Malice n Wonderland, which was a commercial failure. Following this, Priority remained dormant.

Second relaunch (2015–present)


In 2015, due to the success of the 2015 American biographical film Straight Outta Compton based on former Priority act N.W.A, Priority Records was relaunched one more time as a distributor. This time the focus was on new acts, including G Perico, Snoh Aalegra and Jonn Hart.[17] In 2018 Priority Records partnered with TuneGO.[29] Priority Records signed TuneGO Artist, Three Guests and distributed their album, 3G. Priority also signed Massachusetts rap group Bandits The Label and later went on to distribute DtheFlyest debut project "Dope Boy Diaries" which was executive produced by CruufromtheNorth and featured a hit single with rap superstar Lil Baby titled "Fugazi" (2018).[30][31]



See also



  1. ^ a b "Priority Records - MusicBrainz". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  2. ^ "Capitol Music Group Relaunches Priority Records as an Indie-Leaning Distributor: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  3. ^ Strauss, Neil (1998). "Rap Empire Unraveling As Stars Flee". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  4. ^ Philips, Chuck. "Death Row Records looking to leave ally Interscope". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  5. ^ "Hoo Bangin' Records - MusicBrainz". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  6. ^ "Mack 10 Re-Launches Hoo Bangin' Records, Signs Xzibit". 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  7. ^ "No Limit Records Ends Its Six-Year Distribution Deal With Priority Records". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  8. ^ "MANSON LAUNCHES NEW POSTHUMAN LABEL - NME". NME. 2000-04-12. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  9. ^ "Rapper 2 Low settles with Rap-A-Lot studio". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  10. ^ "What Is Rap-A-Lot Records?". HYPEBEAST. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  11. ^ "Release group "Internal Affairs" by Pharoahe Monch - MusicBrainz". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  12. ^ "Do Remember: Rawkus Records' Soundbombing 2 Album (Audio)". Ambrosia For Heads. 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  13. ^ "How JAY Z Went From Independent to Major Label Boss – Stop The Breaks | Independent Music Grind". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  14. ^ "Tupac, Ruthless Records, Priority Records Set To Be Honored At Indie Entertainment Summit Conference & Hip Hop Honors". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  15. ^ a b "Ruthless Records". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  16. ^ Sunez (2014-07-22). THE SUNEZ CRATES: 2013 PREMIEREHIPHOP.COM Book. Edward Sunez Rodriguez for Moon Soul Books. ISBN 9780990584704.
  17. ^ a b c "Capitol Music Group Relaunches Priority Records as an Indie-Leaning Distributor: Exclusive". Billboard. June 22, 2017.
  18. ^ "Former K-tel Duo Making Priority Records A Hit". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  19. ^ "Ruthless Records Celebrates 20 Years". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  20. ^ Kives, Bartley (2015-09-08). "Straight outta West K." Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  21. ^ a b Barker, Andrew (July 22, 2013). "Priority Records Relaunched as Electronic Music Label". Variety.
  22. ^ "Former K-tel Duo Making Priority Records A Hit". Chicago Tribune. August 25, 1994.
  23. ^ "Priority Records - Rap/Hip Hop Labels". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  24. ^ "Dead Presidents:Ranking Jay Z 1st week album sales". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  25. ^ "Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt By the Numbers". XXL. Harris Publications. June 25, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  26. ^ Furman, Phyllis. "CAPITOL IDEA FOR PRIORITY RECORDS". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  27. ^ "Snoop Dogg Resurrects Priority Records". XXL. September 8, 2009.
  28. ^ "Priority Records Relaunches Through Capitol, Insurgency; Michael Cohen Named President (Exclusive)". Billboard. July 22, 2013.
  29. ^ "TuneGO Partners with Priority Records". TuneGO Music. 2018-04-06. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  30. ^ "Priority Records - DTheFlyest".
  31. ^ "3G - PRIORITY RECORDS". PRIORITY RECORDS. Retrieved 2018-04-30.