Set up in late 2003 by the Jazz Cafe’s Adrian Gibson, Freestyle Records has rapidly amassed a consistently strong and impressive catalogue of fine and funky releases. Featured artists include luminaries such as Chaka Khan, Fred Wesley, Soulive, Chali 2Na (Jurassic 5), Me’shell Ndegeochello, The Beatnuts, JTQ featuring Roy Ayers, Lewis Taylor, Michael Franti, Saul Williams and Ursula Rucker.
As well as these international stars they have also focussed on developing home-grown artists such as Sleeve, Flow Dynamics, Kokolo, Afrodizz, Reggie Watts, Jazz Juice, Richy Pitch and The Society. Throughout the full catalogue you will find an eclectic output from funk, hip hop and soul to afrobeat, breaks, disco and house. The emphasis is definitely on quality and broadness, rather than perpetuating existing musical genres, which has won fans as far afield as Kenny Dope, Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, Mr Scruff, Danny Krivit, Jazzanova, DJ Spinna, Annie Mac, Quantic, Fort Knox, Kev Beadle, Spiritual South, DJ Yoda, Mad Mats, Boca 45, Dr Rubberfunk and countless other DJs worldwide.
In the words of Adrian Gibson:
“When I started Freestyle Records in late 2003 it was initially just as a way of getting tunes that I was playing on CD-R out to a wider market. It seemed strange that no-one was picking these tunes up for release. Admittedly they were all extremely unfashionable at the time – not a broken beat in site! The sales for the first release reflected this. The initial ship out of the Jaguar “That’s your problem Baby” 12” was less than 100 copies! The next few singles did better and eventually word got out about this strange label releasing all manner of different sounds rather than sticking to one genre. The first releases were Icelandic Funk, Disco, Funky Hip Hop, Jazz Dance, Afrobeat, Latin & Future Soul…..and that was just the first batch of singles.
The release schedule has been frantic ever since then. Five years later we are about to release our 140th recording. His is a number most other labels would struggle to keep up with in a decade. Nevertheless, the records are coming out quicker than ever and I like to think the different sounds released have influenced the market with a host of similar labels coming up in the past half decade. To celebrate 5 years of the label we thought it would be best to showcase some of the 12” singles which, for the most part, only ever came out on vinyl. Here they are on CD for a different audience to enjoy.”