The Music People began as a music distributor, with a huge warehouse in Oakland where they sold records wholesale. If you had a mobile DJ business, you could get vinyl there for less than retail. In the early ‘90s they became a music label when they put out MC Pooh’s “Fuckin’ Wit Dank,” which had been a cassette-only indie release out of East Oakland, produced by Ant Banks. A certified anthem, “Fuckin’ Wit Dank” had done well locally. If you listen to the song, besides advocating marijuana use, Pooh shouts out a lot of streets in Oakland, places like Seminary, 98th and Walnut, 72nd Ave. “Fuckin With Dank” followed the Too $hort route, eventually selling over 100,000 units, which was pretty damn major for an independent release back then.
After that, Music People formed a subsidiary label, In-A-Minute Records. They cornered the market on Bay Area gangster music in the early-to-mid-‘90s. MC Pooh got a deal with Jive and became Pooh-Man, but In-A-Minute put out a lot of seminal stuff. In 1992, RBL Posse’s “Don’t Give Me No Bammer Weed” single became a huge underground record, moving 100,000 units; two RBL albums followed. Rick Rock did some uncredited production work on that second RBL album, Ruthless By Law, which sold about 250,000 copies. You can kind of hear Rick’s style in some of those tracks—they knock to this day. In-A-Minute also put out the first recordings by Master P when he was still living in Richmond, as well as P’s wife Sonya C; I.M.P., an N.W.A.-type group from Lakeview in San Francisco, and they reissued $hort’s 75 Girls albums as a double-disc called The Player Years.
They used to have these huge BBQs in the parking lot every year and every indie label doing rap in the Bay would show up. There would be guys from Oakland, Richmond, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Vallejo—wherever. Later on, a couple of people who worked there went and formed a label called DogDay, that put out albums by 11/5, the Coup, and Darkroom Familia. But it all started at that warehouse in Oakland. Eventually, Music People and In-A-Minute went out of business. There were stories that the CEO was jerkin’ artists and he caught a beat down for it. Nowadays, the building is owned by the city of Oakland; it’s all boarded up.