DJ Premier will be the first artist to release a single on the newly-revived imprint, in a nod to its early-1990s roots.
Patrick Moxey, the founder dance and electronic label Ultra Music, is going back to his roots with the relaunch Payday Records, the classic hip-hop label he created in 1992 that served as the label home artists like Gang Starr, Group Home, Jeru the Damaja and Showbiz & A.G., among others. As part the company's revival, Moxey is teaming back up with DJ Premier for a new single, “Our Streets” feat. A$AP Ferg, set to drop tomorrow (Nov. 3).
When Moxey first launched Payday 25 years ago, it was at the center New York's golden age hip-hop, with Premier heavily involved as one the go-to producers and, alongside Guru in Gang Starr, key artists in the scene at the time. In 1995, Payday also released the first-ever single from Jay-Z, “In My Lifetime,” a year before his debut album Reasonable Doubt was released in June 1996, and released a slew albums and singles from the likes WC and the MAAD Circle, O.C. and UTD, Mos Def's first hip-hop group.
Alongside Premier, Payday has deals with New Orleans MC Pell, Atlanta veteran OJ Da Juiceman, U.K. rapper Yung Fume and NYC collective Gloss Gang.
“Hip-hop has become a global language, and I think the new Payday is here to reflect that and to help bring a bunch diverse and talented new artists to the world,” Moxey tells Billboard. “Our first signings are from four different cities: New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and London. That reflects the fact that we have one computer in front us and that computer knows no borders.”
Payday will operate as a standalone label with the backing Ultra's sales, marketing and promotions structure, with product management and A&R staff in New York and the U.K. and flexible deals for its artists. And in another nod to the label's roots, Neale Easterby, the CEO Empire Artist Management who helped manage Gang Starr along with Moxey, will serve as the label's managing director in the U.K.
“Payday the label came out my warehouse parties in the early '90s; we did De La Soul's first show, we did Rob Base's first show, Q-Tip would DJ,” Moxey says. “That was the excitement that time. I think that still holds true today, but with a new generation. To have those moments to do the unexpected — that's what we're looking to do.”
“Patrick always had his ear to the street and it didn't take a lot explaining the culture since he was so involved with so many aspects it,” DJ Premier said in a statement. “Our memories growing together are] monumental, so relaunching Payday brings it all back to the roots where our flight to success lifted f.”
Payday is also the latest legacy label to be relaunched this year, following Capitol Music Group's resurrection Priority Records — itself an early-'90s hip-hop institution, which started with a focus on the West Coast — in June, and Warner Music Group's relaunch Asylum Records earlier this week. Moxey sees Payday as both a global hub for hip-hop and one that will reflect the cultural aspects its original era, beyond just music.
“It was a magic time in New York,” he says about the company's origins, “at a moment when hip-hop was very cultural: it was about the music, it was about the photographers, it was about the video makers, Triple Five Soul, many different aspects it. I think it's important that all that gets emphasized, and we'll be paying special attention at Payday to not just music, but all the related strands art that go with that real culture around it.”