By 1997, just when some feared that hip-hop was getting corrupted by its own success, "independent" and "alternative" had become buzz words. And no other claimed them louder than Company Flow. A product of New-York's underground, these self-produced and self-promoted rappers had created their own label, Official Recordings, and they targeted the music industry as the main enemy. And their slogan, a very definitive "independent as fuck", was everything but ambiguous.
One thing is certain: after their mythical Funcrusher Plus, nothing could challenge the iconic status of Company Flow, in the hip-hop underground. Their next album, though, could have rattled it. Actually, just when the group was on its way to imposing its uncompromising kind of rap to a growing indie audience, it had chosen to come back with a more difficult album, even harsher and crazier than the previous one; and furthermore, it was purely instrumental. More loyal than ever to its motto, "independent as fuck", Co-Flow wasn't going the easy way.
After Company Flow split, El-P attracted all the attention deserved to indie rap's central band, at the expense of his two comrades. The malicious ones may pretend that it was because he was White, while the two others were Black men. Anyway, it is true that there was something unfair with the founder of Def Jux becoming a media darling, while Bigg Jus, a better rapper than him – and sometimes a producer and a label owner as well – would pursue a very similar solo career, as much haunted, politically committed, and committed to experimentalism.
Talking about the late 90's rap underground is not an option, if no member of this scene's emblematic trio is involved. Bigg Jus, indeed, was a central part of the indie rap wave, first as a rapper in Company Flow, then as the boss of Subverse, and, from these times through Machines That Make Civilization Fun, an album he released in 2012, as a radical artist. As part of our indie rap series, he is sharing his view about a movement he largely contributed to build.