Photo: Roger Kisby / Getty Images
  /  06.28.2018

—by Kemet High

Starting a record label is like building a basketball dynasty; it takes an office full of people who are omniscient to technicalities, a demographic that will both love and support and, of course, the right pieces to get the franchise going before its reign to the top. Rap, like basketball, is naturally competitive in nature. Yeah, you have friends and associates who you respect and have probably came up with but, at the end of the day, there’s only one spot for royalty and there are certainly no limits when it comes to knocking others off along the way. They say that the West Coast is for “showtime,” right? Well, they’ve always come to play.

Death Row in the 1990s was like the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s; a franchise that was elite in both their presence and skill. No matter who was on the polarizing side, they would go on to acquire plaque after plaque, solidifying their name in history as some of the greatest to ever do it. The fire did simmer quite a bit after a couple of decades, but a new unsung hero would rise to the surface and take over the West Coast with banners: The Golden State Warriors. And if we’re talking basketball and rap, let’s not front like TDE aren’t the Golden State Warriors of music right now.

About 15 years ago, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith created Top Dawg Entertainment, signing Compton native, 15-year-old Kendrick Lamar who had California buzzing with his debut mixtape Youngest Head Nigga in Charge. Just one year later, TDE would sign another California king on the rise, Jay Rock. In 2008 and 2009, they added two more figures that would both expand and magnify a growing franchise that was just years away from dominance. As it stood, the collective of Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and ScHoolboy Q would serve as the Mount Rushmore of the record label, and musically, boy, did they start cooking up. On each and every one of their individuals projects, was an appearance from one another. The unrivaled skill of all four California natives served as motivation and inspiration for the art, causing them to form Black Hippy, a rap group that came with that cassette tape and boom box rawness.

Seven years down the line, after condensed years of releasing solo mixtapes and fabricating musical chemistry between the Black Hippy coterie, TDE upped their weight class and signed a new joint venture with Interscope and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment. Taking this back to the court, the best way to describe how they approached their competition was with complete and utter mismatches. The most attention was diverted after the label’s first project release since the new joint venture. After going triple-platinum, good kid, M.A.A.D. city precedingly earned five Grammy nominations, and solidified Kendrick Lamar as hip-hop’s new Rookie of the Year. Top Dawg got a steal with this one because the West Coast started hanging banners once again.

The early 2010s was a time where interactive dance music was fading out and hyper-focused content was returning. When we look at what was so significant, the answer lies within the fact that Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and ScHoolboy Q were successfully able to put gangsta rapping and storytelling back on the radio across the country. TDE was solid, to say the least, but their next couple of signees would take their team from impressive to elite.

All you had to do was sit back and watch. In 2014, Tiffith went on to sign yet another poetic rapper, Chattanooga native Isaiah Rashad, and a new neo-soul singer who went by the name of SZA. From there, the TDE cypher was born. The foundation was seasoned, meaning they were no strangers to the feelings of worldwide success and the constant expanding of their artistry. Isaiah Rashad and SZA were the brother-sister collective that has arguably had the biggest “sixth man” effect rap has seen on an intimate record label. Top Dawg Entertainment keeps getting better.

After being named as a 2014 XXL Freshman, Isaiah Rashad released his debut album The Sun’s Tirade, adding that flavor of the South that TDE was previously missing. As of then, they were a label full of rappers with one singer and sole woman who would prove to hold her own in each project she touched. After years of frustration and fighting to make her mark, SZA released her debut album CTRL which went on to receive five Grammy nominations, the same as Kendrick’s GKMC. Serving as one of the best R&B albums of 2017, CTRL was also certified platinum, taking SZA from her mixtape days to the face of neo-soul and R&B.

Typically when you see a franchise achieving this much success, you begin to think that at some point, the success will die down; when it comes to TDE, I think we’re decades away from that. SZA pried open the door beyond the limits of rap, further influencing the signing of Chicago native and singer Lance Skiiiwalker, who released his debut album, Introverted Intuition back in October of 2016. TDE’s next two signees are both visually and audibly notable. Just last week, we saw SiR take the stage at the 2018 BET Awards, performing music from his second studio album November, and last year we heard the spiritual voice of TDE’s Zacari featured on Kendrick Lamar’s 4x-platinum single, “Love.”

The most important thing to note has been the balance of both individual and group success. Individually, each one of TDE’s artists could go head-to-head with whoever, literally. Among the label, TDE has combined for hundreds of millions of album sales and streams, 17 studio albums, 17 mixtapes, over 30 Grammy nominations, and 11 Grammy awards. Not to throw any shade, but unlike MMG who have consistently been thriving on a mid-major level, Dreamville who have been patiently waiting for their artists to pop, or even OVO which rides on the coattails of R&B, TDE has prospered past all thoughts of potential and competition.

They have become 2018’s Golden State Warriors in the sense that the entire label’s talent is seamlessly in every conversation as to who, and which label, owns the throne. It’s almost unfair. TDE is that super team that has established, and continues to aggressively carve, their name into hip-hop history. I guess this is why they say that the West Coast is the “best coast” right? Top Dawg Entertainment to music is what the Golden State Warriors are to basketball: stacked with talent, certain to make history and, frankly, cannot be defeated. You can catch them on The Championship Tour as they begin to close out on their last few dates. But whether you actively search for it, or it comes across you, TDE will be in your headphones, taking over your playlists. That’s just what they do.



View More



View More


Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicked off at Central State University

In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.

  /  11.28.2023

Dig In & Drink Up | 'Bet on Black'

In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!

  /  11.15.2023

Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'

Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.

  /  11.15.2023

The Auditions | 'Shoot Your Shot'

The competition begins at REVOLT WORLD as rising rappers, singers, and musicians line up to audition for their spot on the main stage. Brought to you by McDonald’s.

  /  11.28.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Walmart brings in heavy-hitters for Black and Unlimited Tour panel

REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.

  /  11.30.2023

Dr. Jaqueline Echols' mission to cure environmental racism

The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.

  /  12.01.2023

From city lots to lush gardens: The power of urban farming with Karen Washington

This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.

  /  11.17.2023

Best chef's kiss | 'Bet on Black'

“Bet on Black” is back with an all-new season! Watch as judges Pinky Cole, Bun B, Van Lathan, and Target’s Melanie Gatewood-Hall meet new contestants and hear pitches from entrepreneurs Saucy D and Chef Diva Dawg.

  /  10.24.2023

Good taste test | 'Bet on Black'

With the help of host Dustin Ross and correspondent Danielle Young, entrepreneurs Diva Dawg, Brooklyn Tea, and The Sable Collective pitch their ideas to the judges. Watch the all-new episode of “Bet on Black” now!

  /  10.31.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes