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Ryan Lynch, founder Man Bites Dog Records: 'We make records for collectors' Having a label nowadays is not a sinecure. But somebody got to do it, right? Ryan Lynch, CEO of Man Bites Dog Records, is an entrepreneur pur sang with passion, guts and a vision. The Virginia-based, former film student, who also makes rap under the moniker RML, has set his teeth in the music industry and doesn't plan to loosen.

photo credit: Hiphopgame.com

If you're a hip-hop fan with an interest for independent music, you've surely bought an album issued on Man Bites Dog already. The label's been putting out music since 2005, but the last few years it's going hard and they're releasing more than just Scooby snacks. So what goes? What's their secret? What's their strength? How do they stay afloat in the jungle of jive and jingle?


So a label, huh? 'I had people coming to me with good music and no way to get it out there in the world', Lynch explains the motivation to start an imprint. 'It made sense with my musical background playing the violin, trombone and guitar in school. Music was always all around me.' A strong independent underground imprint with character, that barks and bites, Man Bites Dog's artist roster looks interesting. On the one hand you'll find tough characters such as Blaq Poet, Stu Bangas, Vanderslice or Roc Marciano, with their typical raw sound 'throwback style sound', as Lynch calls it- but also artists like Illogic and Blockhead, known for their affinity with metaphors and eerie production, Vast Aire, with his poetical word play, or Jason Rose with his influences of indie rock and electronic music. So is there a concept? 'Strong quality hip-hop.', according to Lynch. 'We make records for collectors. There's never enough quality.'


So if quality music is key, what exactly defines the artist Man Bites Dog is looking for? 'Talented and wanting to work hard.' Lynch explains. One of the recent moves of the label head was appointing rap veteran Roc Marciano as director of A&R. 'Roc has an ear for talent and an eye for quality. Makes sense to bring that into the boardroom and in the studio.' Artists don't only make music on the label, they think for the label. Besides household names such as Roc Marciano, Vast Aire, Copywrite, Esoteric or Killah Priest, the label invests in new talent and offers a platform for their debut efforts. There's been Empuls's 'The Very Best Of Empuls', Curly Castro's excellent and confident 'FIDEL' debut, while the first album by Hayze -an affiliate of Demigod Apathy- is just around the corner and Brooklyn's Eddie B & Harry Fraud's debut's in the pipeline.


'Yes, I know that mockumentary', the movie adept in Ryan Lynch confesses when we ask him about Belgian snuff movie 'Man Bites Dog', an exponent of Belgium's independent movie scene. Besides music, cinema plays a big part in Lynch's life. Before starting the label, he was in film school. Now he's pushing music. No wonder that a lot of the artists on Man Bites Dog have their music translated into professional, creative video's. The label manager himself directs footage on a regular basis. 'I like that 'Mechanical Me' music video I directed for MHz Legacy or The Deathgrips joint shot with the rear view mirror on the car.' In anticipation of Illogic and Blockhead's album 'Capture The Sun', webisodes directed by Blueprint, floated the blogosphere. In today's era, video is key.

From Where?

Man Bites Dog Records is based out in Virginia -V.A. is in the house- but the world winks. With the talent, work ethic, and vision, the label has already transcended the local scene and is making waves on an international level with a productivity and durability seldom seen, slowly turning into a quality brand like Rhymesayers, Duck Down, Mello Music Group or Stones Throw.


POSTED 06|04|2013
conducted by cpf

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