Rap-A-Lot Records

Rap-A-Lot is a hip hop record label co-founded by James Prince and Cliff Blodget[2][3][4] in 1986.[5] Smoke-a-Lot Records is a subsidiary.

Rap-a-lot logo.jpg
Parent companySony Music Entertainment
Founded1986; 37 years ago (1986)[1]
FounderJames Prince, Cliff Blodget
Distributor(s)RED Distribution
GenreSouthern hip hop
Country of originUnited States
LocationHouston, Texas

Rap-A-Lot was first distributed by A&M Records with the release of Raheem's 1988 debut The Vigilante.[6] The label was distributed through the 1990s by EMI's Priority Records (1991–1994), Noo Trybe Records (1994-1998), and Virgin Records (1998–2002). In the 2000s, it was distributed by Asylum Records and then Fontana Distribution.

On August 22, 2013, Rap-A-Lot announced a distribution deal with RED Distribution.[7]


The label was formed filling in a gap for recognition and promotion of southern talent especially in the Houston area. This was in part to label executives in other parts of the country passing on southern hip hop acts. During this period, DJ's from the east coast had been exploiting the region and pushing music from their domestic territories instead.[8]

Prince was working as a bank teller in 1985 in the fault department, then getting laid off at the age of 20.[9][10] The initial goal prior to the label was to keep his younger stepbrother known as the rapper Sir Rap-A-Lot out of street life, as well as friends Raheem and Jukebox from skipping school. They would meet on the porch of his grandmothers house to perform and practice.[11] After purchasing an abandoned building, he turned the property into on a used car dealership, known as Smith Auto Sales on the west side of Houston. At first he sold bucket cars then moving on to exotic cars which athletes would come and purchase.[9] The same rundown 2 storey building that Prince owned, was where the artists then moved on to record into during 1986.[2]

Prince co-founded Rap-A-Lot Records with Cliff Blodget, a Seattleite,[12][3][4] in 1987. Bloget was a computer science major,[10] who was an electrical engineer by trade and acted as the label's in-house engineer and producer alongside fellow producer Carl Stephenson.[13][12] Prince used his last bit of funds to invest into the label. He was inspired by Russell Simmons and the label he founded Def Jam Recordings. He moved the company in 1988 to New York City with Blodget. Around this time Lyor Cohen would show Prince check books of Def Jam artists LL Cool J and Whodini which showed him the potential revenue to be made in the music industry enlightening him to continue his vision with the Geto Boys moving the whole label back to Houston.[9][11]

The first group he formed in the label was the Geto Boys. Prince found members Bushwick Bill when he was performing as a dancer at a club, Willie D through the recommendation of his barber,[14] and Scarface in the parking lot of a club he owned playing demos to a DJ who worked there. His brother was a member but then was replaced at Prince's discretion with Scarface. This was confirmed from a freestyle battle against each other where Scarface outperformed Sir Rap-A-Lot, with the younger brother then agreeing that was the better direction for the group also.[11] Using local radio stations like KTSU to spread the reach of the label's music,[15] his first deal came in 1989 via Rick Rubin working with the Geto Boys on their 2nd album Grip It! On That Other Level.[16]

Geffen Records who had been working with Rubin pulled the project a week before its release to the lyrical nature of the album, despite claims of racism and hypocrisy made by the Geto Boys and the fact that independently the album already had sold over 500,000 copies.[17] The controversy lead to Rubin splitting from Geffen and signing with Warner Records with the album being pushed there instead, it tripled the total sales of the project.

Prior to the success of Ice Ice Baby, Prince wanted to sign rapper Vanilla Ice after seeing him perform in 1990 at The Summit. He did not follow through as a result of his business partner Blodget feeling that the artist lacked talent.[18]

Prince signed a deal with Priority Records in 1991 for distribution,[16] releasing the Geto Boys third album We Can't Be Stopped.[3] By the mid-1990s co-founder Blodget had parted ways from Rap-A-Lot.[13] In 1995 Prince signed the next distribution deal with Noo Trybe Records and Virgin Records.[3]

During the 1990s, two DEA agents placed a probe on Prince and his label, believing the label was a front for a major trafficking network. At this time a concept for a music distribution label that would have acted dually as a union for recording artists was being planned between Prince, Suge Knight, and Irv Gotti which was eventually cancelled. The two agents were later convicted of corrupt conduct.[19][20][21][22]

Notable artistsEdit

Rap A Lot 4 LifeEdit

Rap A Lot BoxingEdit

YEMG (Jas Prince)Edit

New Wave (Baby Jay Prince)Edit

Major releasesEdit


































  1. ^ HP Cheung (April 3, 2017). "What Is Rap-A-Lot Records?". Hypebeast. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  2. ^ a b "Red Bull Music Academy Daily". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  3. ^ a b c d Patoski, Joe Nick (2013-01-21). "Money in the Making". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  4. ^ a b "Brewer's Ads Rapped". Washington Post. 1991-09-04. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  5. ^ Brandon Caldwell (February 17, 2015). "A Brief History of Houston Rap Executive J. Prince Defending Everyone from The Geto Boys to Drake". Vice Media. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  6. ^ Faniel, Maco L. (30 July 2013). Hip Hop in Houston: The Origin and the Legacy (Paperback ed.). The History Press. pp. 117–118. ISBN 978-1-60949-978-5. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  7. ^ "Rap-A-Lot Records Signs Distribution Deal with Sony RED, Plans Bun B Album". 23 August 2013.
  8. ^ Payne, Ogden (2018-07-30). "Inside The Entrepreneurial Rise Of Rap-A-Lot Records CEO James Prince". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  9. ^ a b c Knapp, Gwendolyn (2018-10-22). "James Prince Has Made It". Houstonia Magazine. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  10. ^ a b "The Geto Boys, Beating the Murder Rap". Washington Post. 1991-12-15. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  11. ^ a b c Kenner, Rob (2011-12-04). "Interview: J. Prince Talks About The Rise Of Rap-A-Lot Records". Complex. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  12. ^ a b "Pen & Pixel: The Graphic Design Duo That Helped Bling Hip-Hop". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  13. ^ a b Rowland, Hobart (1997-12-04). "Static". Houston Press. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  14. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "James "Lil. J." Smith". AllMusic. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  15. ^ "Texas Southern University - Texas Southern to recognize James Prince with Honorary Degree". Home. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  16. ^ a b "'It Was Like Flies To Honey': 25 Years Of Rap-A-Lot Records". NPR. 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  17. ^ Pareles, John (August 28, 1990). "Distributor Withdraws Rap Album Over Lyrics". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  18. ^ Miller, Jeff (2016-03-18). "Bun B Interviews Rap-A-Lot Records Founder James Prince at SXSW 2016 Keynote". Billboard. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  19. ^ "Former DEA Special Agent Sentenced to Over 13 Years in Prison for Corruption-Related Charges". Department of Justice. 2021-08-12. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  20. ^ McConnaughey, Janet (2021-08-12). "Former DEA agent sentenced to 13 years in corruption case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  21. ^ Lilah, Rose (2020-12-23). "J. Prince Details How DEA Targeted Him, Suge Knight & Irv Gotti Over Black-Owned Distribution Business". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  22. ^ Markman, Rob (2011-10-10). "Irv Gotti And Suge Knight Planned To Unionize Artists - News". MTV. Retrieved 2022-11-01.

External linksEdit