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Tommy Boy At 35: Tom Silverman Talks Hip-Hop's Most Iconic Indie Label

Miles Marshall Lewis, Genius, 18 August 2016

A history of the brand that brought the world Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, and Queen Latifah.

No account of early hip-hop industry is complete without mention of Tommy Boy Entertainment. Tom Silverman—the Tommy in Tommy Boy—founded the label in 1981, and in its 35 years blessed the world with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, House Of Pain, Digital Underground and scores more.

From his seminal 1970s Dance Music Report newsletter to inking one of the first major label distribution deals with Warner Bros. Records to riding the recent EDM wave, Silverman's earned his industry bona fides through five decades of music.

No less a titan of rap industry than Def Jam founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, Silverman speaks to Genius about Tommy Boy's beginnings, being dissed by N.O.R.E and why we're entering the one-hit wonder era.

Total word count of piece: 2104

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