Nastymix Records hosts Fifth Anniversary party on November 29, 1990.

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 4/04/2011
  • Essay 9794
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On November 29, 1990, Seattle’s pioneering hip-hop label, Nastymix Records, triumphantly hosts a party to celebrate their first five years of amazing success. In that brief period of time the company has emerged from total obscurity to become the highest-profile independent Northwest label since the 1960s rock 'n' roll era. Though Nastymix was by now the home to a half-dozen talented acts, its original breakthrough artist, Sir Mix-A-Lot (b. 1963), is honored at the party with the public presentation of a Gold Record award (500,000 units shipped) for his 1990 album, Seminar, and a Platinum award (one million shipped) for his 1989 debut album, SWASS.

Nasty and Mix

Nastymix Records was founded in Seattle by rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot (nee Anthony Ray), KKFX ("KFOX") radio DJ "Nasty" Nes Rodriguez, and businessman/ex-KYAC DJ, Ed Locke, in 1985. At that time, Sir Mix-A-Lot was a local pioneer in the hip-hop realm, and Seattle had not seen the launch of a nationally (and/or internationally) successful record company in two long decades. The years following the Kingsmen's infamous 1963 hit "Louie Louie" (issued by Seattle's Jerden Records) saw many local groups cut discs for many local labels, but scoring national hits proved to be an elusive goal.

But the Nastymix team faced a new music world in the mid-1980s and they had little reason not to approach the challenges with complete dedication. That belief in their "product" was contagious and after a couple of their fresh releases stirred up a bit of attention in various scattered markets, the label issued Mix's SWASS (e.g. "some wild-ass silly shit") album in 1988 and a handful of its hits -- including "Posse On Broadway" -- caused the rapper and his label's fortunes to change bigtime.  Nastymix was soon able to move up from its humble nondescript offices off of Western Avenue and into deluxe digs (formerly KVI radio's studios) in The Tower Building (1809 7th Avenue, Suite 800), and develop a professional office staff and a crew of well-connected promoters including longtime club DJ, Ramon Wells and music journalist (and KCMU Shock Frequency/ Rap Attack DJ) "Shockmaster" Glen Boyd.

Party Like It's 1989

Among Nastymix's trademarks was an admirable tendency to lavish attention and promotional gifts on just about everybody in the local music biz -- from radio station bigwigs to lowly record store chumps. Beyond the usual freebies -- records, CDs, press kits, photographs, stickers, posters, etc., the label began a remarkable tradition of hosting over-the-top parties to mark major milestones in their history.

The most memorable had been the one in mid-1989 thrown in order to celebrate the fact that Mix's SWASS album had achieved sales status that earned it a Gold Record award. But instead of renting out some dingy tavern -- like so many previous Northwest bands had done to hold record-release parties -- Nastymix went all-out by booking the Spanish Ballroom at the opulent and usually staid Four Seasons Olympic Hotel (4th and University). That was a night long remembered by all who attended ...

Gold and Platinum

In late-1990 Nastymix had several new reasons to share some serious fun with the music community. The new Phantom Club (332 Fifth Avenue N) discotheque was booked, and like the previous party, this one also offered up excellent food, beverages, and music. A teeming crowd of more than 400 attendees assembled to witness appearances by the label's top talents such as Sir Mix-A-Lot, Kid Sensation, High Performance, Criminal Nation -- and their recent signing, Oak Harbor's speed-metal band, the Accused.

Other highlights of the night included the presentation by Ed Locke to Mix of a Platinum award for SWASS and a Gold award for Seminar. But there were additional honors yet to be made. The president of the Northwest Area Music Association (NAMA), Chris Knab, came forward to present Ed Locke and company with their Outstanding Achievement Award and the annual awards for Best Company of the Year and Independent Record Label of the Year

Sources: Nastymix "Year End Press Release for 1990," copy in possession of Peter Blecha, Seattle; Patrick MacDonald, "A Mixed Bag: Seattle’s Nastymix Records is Becoming a Key Player in the Highly Competitive, Rap-and-Rock Sound Business," The Seattle Times, June 3, 1990, pp. L-1, L-2; and author’s archives and recollections.

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