In a new interview with Rolling Stone, hip hop legend Ice-T announced the launch of a new electronic music label called Electronic Beat Empire, which is being billed as “a serious techno music record label.”
Ice is launching the label with close friend and Afrika Bambaataa protégé Afrika Islam, also known by his techno alias, Mr. X. The label's debut release is an album produced by the pair called Hip Hop DJs Don’t Play Techno.
According to the interview, Islam's earliest influences include Kraftwerk's 1977 song “Trans-Europe Express” and trips to Paradise Garage—the legendary New York City club helmed by Larry Levan. He also counts acts like Marshall Jefferson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Juan Atkins, and Jeff Mills amongst his inspirations, and spent the last 15 years living in Germany, DJing at raves, nightclubs and festivals like Glastonbury and the Love Parade.
Ice is also no stranger to electronic music. His first few releases, including his 1984 breakout single "Reckless,” produced by DJ Chris "The Glove" Taylor, were heavily electro-inspired hip hop.
"On the West Coast, there was no hip hop scene; it started with techno," Ice explained about those early days.
"It was Uncle Jamm’s Army, it was Egyptian Lover. But the beat was basically the same Kraftwerk beat: boom-tsk-boom-boom. If you listen to my first rap record that broke, “Reckless,” it’s pretty much more techno than it is hip hop."
The pair say they aren't looking to cash in on what's already big or exploit the hottest new sound. Instead, they're looking for fresh acts, and will use the label to release music on their own terms.
"If you sound like Calvin Harris, there’s already Calvin Harris," Ice-T said. "That’s the problem with most A&Rs. They’re just duplicating what’s out there. If that’s what somebody was out to do, there would never have been an Ice-T.
"We’re into the real, raw creativity that’s out there. When they came with dubstep, that was a whole other part of music. The painting is never complete on the musical landscape, so let’s take it there with Electronic Beat Empire."
Read the entire interview on Rolling Stone. And listen to Hip Hop DJs Don’t Play Techno below.