There used to be this common trope back around 2006 or so — that all the established labels and the people that ran them would have to “transition or die.” By that they meant drop vinyl and with it all pretense of quality control, pumping out digital EPs and singles as fast as you can under the guise of “staying relevant.”
We have enough data now to conclude that most labels which followed this advice pretty much suck now. One I know of has trashed its entire ’00s catalog because it just looked terrible in contrast to its vintage material — and to the material the owner wants to release now. Countless intellectual, musical and historical reservoirs vandalized their brand like this, for a front page banner on Beatport or Stompy, burying their legacy in mediocre shit that the principle owners never even really cared for.
I would like to suggest that it is entirely positive to stay relevant and open to the creative forces of change without releasing a bunch of music you don’t even like. Exhibit A: Ibadan. The label founded in New York in 1995 has released just 150 records in 27 years, having weathered the fallout of the ’00s and remained active pretty much at all times. As the tempo of the industry shifted into overdrive in transition from the analog to digital and now streaming era, Ibadan Records has maintained an exceptionally high level of quality among their V/As, DJ tools, reissues and original releases.
Release #150 was “Badlands” by Janne Tavi, whose “The Other Man” with Robert Owens on Ibadan we reviewed nearly five years ago. Rooted in soul, “Badlands” taps into a gaudy religiosity or witchiness with a looped organ backing an aggressive, stabbing melody and progression that’s both deeply emotional and wildly ecstatic.
This sets up a pair of remixes from Cee ElAssaad, a Moroccan producer I wasn’t too familiar with before this. Cee focuses on the “ecstatic” part of the trip, a triumphant Afro House remix that glitters and shines.
This is how Ibadan, one our most essential labels, remains relevant. It isn’t a secret. They do it by blowing our fucking minds over and over again.
Janne Tavi: Badlands (Cee ElAssaad Remix) (Ibadan Records / Digital)
1. Janne Tavi: Badlands (Original Mix) (06:23)
2. Janne Tavi: Badlands (Cee ElAssaad Remix) (07:01)
3. Janne Tavi: Badlands (Cee ElAssaad Beatless Mix) (06:23)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was not submitted as a promo.