First Priority Music
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First Priority Music (FPM) was an American hip hop record label of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which has diversified and found success in recent years with releases in contemporary R&B and country music genres, among others. A small independent, it formed successful distribution relationships, first with Atlantic Records, and later on with Jive/Zomba. Its most well-known artists from both eras are hip hop acts Audio Two and MC Lyte, and singers Eamon and Jason Downs.
First Priority was founded by Nat Robinson in 1987, to release music by his son Kirk and his daughter Lana, better known as Milk Dee of Audio Two, and MC Lyte, respectively. FPM's first release was Audio Two's "Make It Funky"/"Top Billin'", which was successful enough to secure the label a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. The subsequent re-release of "Top Billin'" was a hip hop hit of lasting impact—"one of the genre's apexes", according to writer Peter Shapiro.
MC Lyte's debut album Lyte as a Rock (1988) was another success, and is today widely regarded as a hip hop classic. It was followed by her well-received records, Eyes on This (1989) and Act Like You Know (1991). "Ruffneck", from 1993's Ain't No Other, was the first gold single by a solo female rap artist. Other members of the hip hop roster of the period include Positive K, Michie Mee, Alliance, Kings of Swing, and Barsha. A compilation featuring FPM artists, The First Priority Music Family: Basement Flavor, was released by the label in 1988. A short-lived sub-label called Bum Rush was distributed by then-sister-label Virgin Records from 1989 to 1991.
Recent years saw releases by Jason Downs and the hugely successful 2004 single by Eamon called "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)," which were released through Jive/Zomba.
- Peter Shapiro, Rough Guide to Hip-Hop, 2nd ed., Rough Guides; London, 2005 (p. 18, pp. 253–254).
- Simon Price, "Rock and Pop", The Independent Sunday, June 24, 2001.
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