It’s been over a decade since world-renowned DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs founded their music label Fool’s Gold Records, but the independent imprint’s massive impact is still felt as much today as it ever was — if not more so. Known for finding the future stars of tomorrow and giving them the launching pad their music needs to get heard by the masses, Fool’s Gold has been the much-needed springboard for countless artists you listen to today.
And while many labels constrict their roster’s creative vision to maintain broad appeal, Fool’s Gold has championed the weirdness and the individuality that makes these artists special and used it as their strongest marketing tool.
A few years ago, Fool’s Gold helped Reese LaFlare put out an EP called TRL that had a Michael Jackson tribute song and a Blink-182 remix. Where else can you find that? A-Trak and team consistently find artists making waves their own way and apply gasoline to the fire. From outstanding Boston rapper Michael Christmas to Atlanta’s vastly underrated Rome Fortune, the label that was built on dance music and remixes has also been a force in American hip-hop.
But aside from introducing some of today’s strongest indie acts to new fans across the globe, Fool’s Gold has also lit the fuse on some of today’s biggest superstars before they blew up.
Before Kid Cudi was humming his way into our hearts, lifting us out of the doldrums of sadness like the angel of apathetic electrorap that he is, he was working at the BAPE Store and living with his uncle. When his uncle kicked him to the curb, he turned up his songwriting to accelerate the glow up, and Fool’s Gold was there to help. Cudi released “Day n’ Nite” as a digital single on the label, as well as some high profile remixes. You may have heard the tune before.
Shortly after the monumental song hit the internet streets, Cudder was outta here. The song skyrocketed the Cleveland artist’s career into the stratosphere, where he ultimately signed with Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music and went on to put out a host of projects that many fans call life-changing (and saving).
Though Carnage has become one of the most popular DJs in the world, playing shows across the globe and making music with some of today’s biggest acts, it didn’t happen overnight. While many first heard Carnage’s high-intensity trap production on his 2014 collaboration “Bricks” with the Migos in their infancy, it was two years prior that he put out his Bang! EP with Fool’s Gold.
Maybe the best example of Fool’s Gold helping an artist find their true calling, Danny Brown went from an outcast Detroit underground rapper to the face of weirdo rap and the spark that would set ablaze a whole new subgenre of hip-hop. His Fool’s Gold debut album XXX is truly timeless and transcends its era, genre, everything. It’s one of the most unique projects ever released and it came from one of the most unique partnerships in music history.
Danny went on to release one more album on Fool’s Gold with his critically-acclaimed 2013 effort Old, which catapulted Danny even more into the hip-hop mainstream and overall festival scene, where he thrives. Though Danny has since moved on from Fool’s Gold, things have come full circle for him. It was A Tribe Called Quest genius Q-Tip that originally convinced A-Trak to sign Brown to Fool’s Gold in 2011, and recently Danny announced that Tip would be executive producing his highly anticipated new album uknowhatimsayin?.
Before Brockhampton seemed poised to broach superstardom and boy band hall of fame status, they were just a group of kids from around the country that met on the internet and were trying to find a way to get heard. In 2015, VFILES held a contest called LOUD! that aimed to find America’s next budding star musician. Well, they got like 15 budding stars, because the fan-voted competition was a runaway victory for Brockhampton, whose grand prize was a Fool’s Gold-released single with an accompanying video by VFILES to be premiered after an episode of MTV’s Catfish. That single and video is “Dirt.”
Since winning the contest and putting “Dirt” out with Fool’s Gold, the group released the legendary Saturation trilogy of albums all in one summer, played damn near every festival in the world, changed the merch game, signed a $20+ Million deal with RCA, and released their album iridescence, which was their first release to achieve #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 album charts.
Run The Jewels
Rapper Killer Mike and emcee-slash-producer El-P each had long and storied careers before they teamed up to form what would become the biggest thing either had ever worked on. The two joined forces to establish Run The Jewels, which smacked hip-hop fans in the face in 2013 with its max-volume production and delivery. The duo’s debut self-titled project dropped on Fool’s Gold and the pair haven’t looked back since, subsequently releasing two sequels that are adored by fans who can’t wait for more.