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The 25 Best A&Rs in Hip-Hop History

7. Tom Silverman and Monica Lynch

Title(s): Tom Silverman - Founder of Tommy Boy Records
Monica Lynch - President of Tommy Boy Records
Artists They Worked With: Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Stetsasonic, Naughty by Nature

In the early 1980s, Tom Silverman, the publisher of a dance music trade magazine that charted the hits of the day, was getting so many unsigned demo tapes mailed to him that he decided to start putting them out on his own. His record company Tommy Boy Records, scored an early success in 1981 with Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force’s singles “Jazzy Sensation” and the global dance-floor shaker, “Planet Rock.”

After some fallow years, Tommy Boy experienced a rap resurgence, in no small way attributable to the cool aesthetic of Tommy Boy’s fashionable president, Monica Lynch, who opened her doors to all kinds of artistic expression. From the signing of Stetsasonic came the ears of Prince Paul, who brought Lynch a quirky Long Island trio called De La Soul. From Dante Ross and Fab 5 Freddy came Queen Latifah, who still works with Lynch to this day. From Ross and Atron Gregory came Digital Underground. From Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere came Naughty By Nature. From Paul Stewart came House of Pain and Coolio.

Tommy Boy’s triumphant tear through the 1990s was aided by label staff like Albert Ragusa, Ian Staeman and Isaac “Fatman Scoop” Freeman, who for many years guided and advised both Lynch and Silverman, whose good boutique-quality taste, artful packaging and clever marketing made Tommy Boy Records a hit machine.

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