What is Ropeadope?
A collaborative community, a brand, a moving force with a life of its own that is larger than life. Founded at the close of the last century, Ropeadope has taken the path less traveled, always following the music where it wants to go. From historically significant records with celebrity names to completely unknown artists, Ropeadope has crossed boundaries and defied music business logic to create a truly unique company that continues to release great music.
Our clothing is legendary - every week we hear from fans looking for re-releases of the classics that they bought back in the day. Our Renew Orleans tees were a symbol of hope and unity after hurricane Katrina; so much so that they were featured on the opening episode of Treme as they recreated the scene of New Orleans after the storm. Our American Immigrant and Ropeadope respects collections emphasize our commitment to social justice and acceptance of all humans.
Ropeadope is a story of inclusion. We view the world as a place of one, where music is a unifying force connecting all of us. We accept that musicians know their art better than businessmen do. We know that this concept, this thing called Ropeadope, is larger than any of us. And so we follow wherever Ropeadope may lead.
A statement on the future of Ropeadope
1999 - Ropeadope begins with the single purpose of releasing DJ Logic's 'Project Logic', produced by Melvin Gibbs and the great Scott Harding. The record is a big success and a new indie label is born.
2001 - Ropeadope clothing is born in Philly, and continues to evolve as a hip and focused apparel brand with a message.The label releases The Philadelphia Experiment featuring Ahmir Thompson (?questlove), Uri Caine, and Christian Mcbride to critical acclaim. The Word introduces key artists to the world - Robert Randolph, Luther and Cody Dickinson of the north mississippi allstars.
2002 - Key releases include Spanish Harlem Orchestra - Un Grand Dia En El Barrio, which is nominated for a Grammy. Willie Nelson appears as a guest on The Tin Hat Trio record - The Rodeo Eroded. And, The Dirty Dozen Brass band's Medicated Magic features Robert Randolph, Dr John, and Olu Dara and introduces the young Norah Jones to the world. The Ropeadope New Music Seminar launches with a wild night at The Mercury Lounge in NYC.
2003 - Crossover to electronic music comes with the release of The Detroit Experiment, produced by the legendary Carl Craig. Mike Gordon of Phish fame appears with his solo record Inside In.
2004 - Ropeadope releases the Antibalas classic 'Who is this America?, followup records by Dirty Dozen and Tin Hat Trio, and finishes out the year with the live 3 disc set from Christian McBride - Live At Tonic. Blue Note Records signs on for a clothing line that features hip remixes of 50's and 60's album design - the line is wildly popular among jazz enthusiasts and hipsters alike.
2005 - Renew Orleans is launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, raising over $ 80,000.00 for musicians in need. Partnering with Preservation Hall and Okayplayer, the clothing line is a symbol of hope and unity for thousands of New Orleans residents as the rebuilding begins. Genre crossover continues with a gospel/pedal steel record from The Campbell Brothers and the ultimate musical crossover record - King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan. The Benevento Russo duo's debut album introduces these two incredible musicians to the world.
2006 - As the upheaval in the music business continues, the label moves to a mostly digital format. Abandoning the high(er) profile releases of the past, Ropeadope begins to sign unknown artists to the Ropeadope Digital label. DJ Logic's Zen Of Logic and Marco Benevento's Live At Tonic highlight the year's 'legacy' artists.
2007 - The label moves to Philadelphia and releases 2 records a month, introducing new Philly hip-hop and jazz artists alongside eclectic electronic and rock artists. Physical releases include The Harlem Experiment featuring Taj Mahal, Olu Dara, James Hunter and more.
2008 - The digital release schedule ramps up even more with releases from jazz and electronic artists from London to Montreal to Philly. Notable releases from Leo Genovese, Tim Collins, and Otis Grove are rounded out with a new genre - rock - with the release of Carlon's debut LP.
2009 - Lost in the new music business shuffle, artists continue to seek out the label for distribution and support. New entries in jazz (Dred Scott Trio) , hip-hop (Black Landlord), and electronic music (Fatty Acid) are released alongside new artists in Bluegrass (Cabinet) and Rock (New Madrid Faults). The label presses on, like everyone else trying to make sense of the new landscape.
2010 - Genres break wide open, and Ropeadope begins a more old school record label approach by nurturing new artists. Releases range in style and locale with world music, latin, folk, and soul from artists in Rome, Tokyo, Guatemala, and of course, Georgia.
2011 - Ropeadope regulars Dred Scott, Greg Hester join the now famous Snarky Puppy with releases in 2011. The business is settling down, and the real work of building artists over time begins anew. Long time Ropeadope friend and producer Scotty Hard returns with the Brazilian Hip-Hop masterpiece Ekundayo.
2012 - Snarky Puppy mastermind Michael League returns with a followup record, and launches the groundUP label in collaboration with Ropeadope. A whole new style emerges as groundUP features critically acclaimed records from around the world. The label focuses heavily on young talent - Jordan Hull and Cabinet build regional followings, perfecting their sound and landing spots on NPR as featured artists. The year ends with a bluegrass record from Cabinet and a new genre - pop - with the introduction of another NPR fave - The Henry Millers. Renew York and Renew Jersey tees are launched after Hurricane Sandy, once again providing money and hope for musicians and other residents of the hard hit areas.
2013 - CEO Louis Marks takes the reins and leads the label into the new (old) music business.
2014 - Ropeadope comes out swinging, starting the year with a Grammy for Snarky Puppy and Lalah Hathaway for their performance of 'Something'. The label lands 15 albums in the iTunes jazz and world charts, and continues the quest for recognition of real music with a staggering set of 45 releases from veteran artists and newcomers alike. Ropeadope launches Atlanta Records in collaboration with SoulandJazz.com, quickly lining up a roster of soulful artists from Atlanta and beyond. Reggie Pace's Jellowstone Records from Richmond Va joins the family and drops some heavy recordings from Pace Cadets, Butcher Brown, and Trio Of Justice.
2015 - Marks' vision of a network of artist driven 'interdependent' record labels expands with the addition of Tribo Records, Ropeadope SUR, and Onde Music. The revolution is in full swing. As the year comes to a close, Ropeadope has collectively released over 45 new records, each and every one authentic in spirit - an accurate reflection of the wave of new creation happening in the independent music business.
2016 - Ropeadope lines up 36 releases for the year before the end of January. On February 16, the day after he won two Grammys with Kendrick Lamar, Terrace Martin announces his new label, Sounds Of Crenshaw, and his new release Velvet Portraits - as part of the Ropeadope family. The year ends with a total of 59 releases.
2017 - The model continues to grow with over 60 new releases for the year. Sput Searight launches RSVP records in the Ropeadope family of labels. Notable artists sign on to the new model - Nate Smith, Matthew Stevens, Maurice Brown, and the great Eddie Palmieri. Ropeadope comes off the ropes with poise and fierce determination. The model evolves, as described by CEO Louis Marks:
2018 - Ropeadope’s most most intensely productive time; 2017 brought over 65 releases too numerous to call out. Amazing records every one, often under-appreciated in the public eye but familiar to those who are in tune. 2018 brings another 70 releases from Logan Richardson, Dana Murray, Lakecia Benjamin, Stephanie McKay and many more. As the worldwide dialogue emphasizes social issues, Ropeadope artists take the lead as ambassadors of peace, love, and justice in trying times. The Ropeadope Room is born; an intimate space on the railroad line just outside Philadelphia. The digital age is not what was promised, and a return to bricks and mortar is just what the soul needs.
In 2018 Louis Marks and Fabian Brown plan the next phase in support of artists - 21Soul. A new media company focused on musicians and the communities that support them, 21Soul creates unique and direct podcasts, video interviews, and live music events designed to bring communities together.
2019 - After wrapping the year with a Grammy nomination for Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, two incredible Salsa albums from the great Eddie Palmieri, and over 70 albums from the likes of Aaron Parks, Robi Botos, and more, Ropeadope sets the sights on 2019. Media company 21Soul is in full swing with interviews, podcasts, video shows and radio guest spots as well as live events in Philly, Montreal, and Brooklyn. The Ropeadope engine picks up steam as more artists find a haven in the family, and an advocate for their future. The roster for 2019 is mostly set as of this writing; Vivian Sessoms, Ramsey Lewis, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Bubby Lewis, BLUKE, and many more well known artists along with essential releases from folks you’ve never heard of. Ropeadope clothing lines return with special capsule collections scheduled through the year.
‘We’re all tired of the bullshit that we see every day: hypercapitalism, loss of privacy and dignity, and constant calls for division from so called populists who are truly just fools in wolf’s clothing - yet our resolve and dedication is strong. We’re not on the right side of history, we are real history in an era of falsity.’ (Louis Marks)