Patrick Moxey, the founder of dance and electronic label Ultra Music, is going back to his roots with the relaunch of Payday Records, the classic hip-hop label he created in 1992 that served as the label home of artists like Gang Starr, Group Home, Jeru the Damaja and Showbiz & A.G., among others. As part of 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 of New York's golden age of hip-hop, with Premier heavily involved as one of 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 of albums and singles from the likes of WC and the MAAD Circle, O.C. and UTD, Mos Def's first hip-hop group.
"Hip-hop has become a global language, and I think the new Payday is here to reflect that and to help bring a bunch of 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 of us and that computer knows no borders."
Payday will operate as a standalone label with the backing of 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 of 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 of 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 of 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 of explaining the culture since he was so involved with so many aspects of it," DJ Premier said in a statement. "Our memories of growing together [are] monumental, so relaunching Payday brings it all back to the roots of where our flight to success lifted off."
Payday is also the latest legacy label to be relaunched this year, following Capitol Music Group's resurrection of 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 of Asylum Records earlier this week. Moxey sees Payday as both a global hub for hip-hop and one that will reflect the cultural aspects of 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 of it. I think it's important that all of that gets emphasized, and we'll be paying special attention at Payday to not just music, but all the related strands of art that go with that real culture around it."