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Tommy Boy Entertainment is an American independent[1][2] record label founded in 1981 by Tom Silverman. The label is credited with launching the music careers of Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, De La Soul, House of Pain, and Naughty By Nature.[3] Tommy Boy is also credited with introducing genres such as EDM, Latin freestyle, and Latin hip hop to mainstream audiences.[4]

Tommy Boy Entertainment
Tommy Boy Logo.jpg
FounderTom Silverman
Country of originUnited States
LocationNew York, New York



Tom Silverman created Tommy Boy Music in 1981 in his New York City apartment with a $5,000 loan from his parents. The label was an outgrowth of Silverman's Dance Music Report bi-weekly publication, which spanned 14 years, beginning in September 1978.[5]

1985–2002: Partnership with Warner Bros. RecordsEdit

In 1985, Warner Bros. Records entered into a partnership with Tommy Boy and acquired half of the label, and it allowed the label to use independent distribution as it saw fit, with the option to distribute artists through the major-label channel through Warner Bros. Records or sister label Reprise Records.[6]

The label had several joint ventures in the mid 1990's including Penalty Recordings,[7] Stepsun,[8] Beyond,[9] and Ignition.[10] The label also had deals with labels such as Timber Records and distribution deals with Outcaste Records[11] and 75 Ark.[12]

In 1997, Tommy Boy launched an imprint label called Upaya to pursue the growing interest in spirituality and spiritual/world music.[13][14] The imprint Tommy Boy Gospel was launched in 1998 under the direction of Max Seigel and Marvie Wright.[15] That same year, the imprints Tommy Boy Black Label,[16] which specialized in underground hip hop music, and Tommy Boy Silver Label,[17] which specialized in dance music, were founded.

In 2002, as part of Warner, Tommy Boy formed Tommy Boy Films, a new TV and film division with Dubtitled Entertainment owner, Michael "Mic" Neumann,[18] while also giving independent distribution to sister imprints that already had label deals with WEA, including American Recordings’ Ill Labels, Mute Records’ NovaMute, and Cold Chillin’s’ Livin’ Large.[19]


In 2002, Tommy Boy became independent again after it ended its joint venture with Warner Bros., which wanted greater unit sales,[20] and the master tapes released until that time became property of Warner. The then-current Tommy Boy artists were shopped to the various WEA labels, the TV and film divisions were merged with the Tommy Boy music division and the resulting company was redubbed Tommy Boy Entertainment LLC, while the trademark remained with Silverman. The label then licensed its trademark to Warner for use on its reissues through Rhino/Atlantic.[citation needed]


Because of Warner Music’s divestment requirements as a result of its purchase of Parlophone, Tommy Boy was able to reacquire its pre-2002 catalogue and the catalogues of Brand Nubian, Grand Puba, and Club Nouveau.[21]

Brand imageEdit

The Tommy Boy logo was originally designed in 1982 by Steven Miglio and redesigned in 1989 by Eric Haze. The logo was named on Complex's list of the 50 Greatest Rap Logos at number nine.[22]

In the late 1980s, Tommy Boy distributed Carhartt jackets embroidered with its logo for promotional uses, shortly before marketing its own merchandise line to consumers called Tommy Boy Gear.[23][24] The label is also credited as the first to use lanyards as promotional items.[25]

Selected ArtistsEdit


  1. ^ "Home – Tommy Boy Records – A2IM". Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ Roberts, Dave (1 June 2017). "Warner sells flurry of copyrights as indie divestment process heads towards finish line - Music Business Worldwide". Music Business Worldwide. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  3. ^ Reid, Shaheem. "'Hip-Hop Is History': Tommy Boy Records Unloads Rap Acts". MTV News. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  4. ^ "2015 Partners - New Music Seminar". New Music Seminar. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  5. ^ "In the City of New York". In the City of New York. 23 July 2007. Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  6. ^ Zane, Warren. Revolutions in Sound—Warner Bros. Records: the first 50 Years. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2009.
  7. ^ Reynolds, J.R. (4 November 1995). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  8. ^ Charnas, Dan (1 November 2011). "The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop". Penguin. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  9. ^ "HITS Daily Double : Rumor Mill - A TALE OF THREE LABELS". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  10. ^ Knopper, Steve (20 June 1998). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  11. ^ "2011 Songwriter's Market". Writer's Digest Books. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ "75 Ark". Discogs. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  13. ^ Smith, Shawnee (29 November 1997). "Billboard". Google Books. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  14. ^ Strauss, Neil (27 June 1996). "The Pop Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  15. ^ Collins, Lisa (30 June 2001). "Billboard". Google Books. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  16. ^ "CMJ New Music Report". Google Books. CMJ Network, Inc. 10 April 2000. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  17. ^ Flick, Larry (11 April 1998). "Billboard". Google Books. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  18. ^ Kipnis, Jill (October 19, 2002). Tommy Boy Branches Out With Film/TV Division. Billboard Magazine. Page 6.
  19. ^ Nathan, David (4 July 1992). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  20. ^ "Tommy Boy Artists Dance Again". Billboard. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Everything must go: Warner Music's indie divestment 'will end September 30'". Music Week. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  22. ^ Mao, Chairman; Sen, Raka. "The 50 Greatest Rap Logos 9. Tommy Boy Records". Complex. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Tom Silverman". Midem. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  24. ^ Marriott, Michel (29 November 1992). "THING; The Carhartt Jacket". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  25. ^ Wartofsky, Alona (29 July 1996). "ONLY THE HIPPEST HAVE KEY RINGS AROUND THE COLLAR". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 July 2017.

External linksEdit