Since its inception in 1997, ABB Records has established itself as an independent force to be reckoned within the world of hip-hop. Major labels, in particular, have certainly taken the ABB quality standard seriously: several ABB artists have gone on to ink major record deals. ABB’s worldwide rep has been built on a solid foundation of consistency and musical excellence—not always a given when dealing with the hip-hop industry.

According to label President Beni B, what makes ABB unique from all the other labels all clamoring for the hip-hop fan’s attention span is the individuality of its artists. “All the artists have been different,” he emphasizes, adding, “When you look at all the releases as a whole, they all exemplify the ABB philosophy.” Meaning, keeping it simple, keeping it basic.

Even though Beni B and the label have attracted media attention from such publications as the Source, Vibe, Billboard, URB, Spin, SF Weekly, Bay Guardian, and Elemental Magazine (to name a few), the ABB game plan hasn’t changed since day one. As Beni B explains, “At the end of the day, it’s not about your image in the industry, it’s all about whether you make good records.”

ABB’s track record backs up Beni’s statement. The label’s first two singles, Defari’s “Bionic/ Change and Switch,” and Dilated Peoples’ “Third Degree/ Confidence/ Global Dynamics,” were regarded as instant classics by influential hip-hop DJs (including Stretch and Bobbito, DJ Revolution, the Baka Boyz, DJ Premier, and the Beat Junkies) and true heads alike. Dilated’s second maxi-single, “Work the Angles/ Main Event/ Triple Optics” spawned an independent movement in and of itself. The record moved over 30,000 copies and was named one of the best 12-inches ever in Ego Trip’s “Book of Rap Lists.” More recently, the label’s latest musical acquisition, Little Brother, has made quite an impact on the musical world; the group was nominated for their first award by the Source, was invited to perform at the 2003 Billboard Hip-Hop & R&B Awards in Miami, FL, and has been featured on MTV’s You Hear It First.

Since opening its doors over seven years ago, Beni B has found others who share his vision and passion for ABB. Armed with a strong and dedicated staff, ABB moves forth devoting its energies to building a label that could be mentioned in the same breath as classic hip-hop labels like Cold Chillin’, Wild Pitch, Def Jam, and Profile.

Back in 1997, West Coast indie hip-hop wasn’t exactly highly regarded in the industry. That has since changed, due in no small part to the efforts of ABB. Also, there was the question of whether radio jocks and DJs nationwide would lend an ear to a label hailing from Oakland, an area known more at that time for game-related rappers than true hip-hop MC’s. At seven years down the road, Beni B can look back with pride on what ABB has accomplished in a relatively short time. “We’ve done it the way we wanted to and people have gravitated toward that,” he says with a smile.
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