While Rawkus Records has to be the most overrated label of the 90’s, Hydra Entertainment is easily the most overlooked. Dismissed by many critics as a purveyor of “mediocre thug crap” while they championed snooze-worthy Talib Kweli records, Hydra has been the delivering a stream of classic street material that rarely disappoints. And for those sensitive types who prefer there vinyl beef-free, there’s the amazing “Hydrabeats” series, which provides 14 volumes of dope tracks by Godfather Don, The Beatnuts, The Ghetto Pros and A Kid Named Roots, amongst others.
Information on this label is scarce, and my attempts to contact the people involved have been futile.
I’ve heard rumors that Godfather Don and Mike Heron own Hydra, but I have my doubts. Started by Jerry Famolari and Mike Heron, the whole operation seems to operate on a truly underground level, as I’ve never seen a print ad for any of their releases, there’s no web site or working email and packaging on the singles is always kept to a simple sticker. Nevertheless, Hydra continues to sporadically release records to this day, having outlived celebrated indy outfits such as Fondle ‘Em, Guesswyld and Rawkus.
The series of Godfather Don 12″s on Hydra are probably the most well known (I’ll discuss those next post), but their staple product has been Queens super-group Screwball, who’ve been dropping twelves with them since ’97.
Some other essential releases are Royal Flush’s “It’s Royal Flush”, the classic “BQE” EP (which featured Hostyle’s “Beat ‘Em In The Head” and God Don’s “Burn”), Kamikazee’s Marley Marl-blessed “Snakes” and the Beatnuts-assisted Triflicts and Gab Gotcha singles. There’s also been some unusual combinations, such as Prince Poetry, Godfather Don and RA The Rugged Man sharing mic duties on “Three The Hard Way” or the pairing of Mobb Deep over a Don beat. Hydra also put out “Hip Hop Independents Finest” double EP, which was the closest thing to “backpack rap” that they’ve done. I’m currently compiling a discography of the label, so stay tuned.
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