“Sherbert Gang is the recording name of Rawkus Records co-founder Brian Brater”
The name “Rawkus Records” brings to mind a clear and distinct sound rooted in a very specific place. With a discography that includes names like Black Star, Company Flow and Big L, the label is irrevocably tied to a specific breed of late ’90s lyrical New York boom bap. But a closer look at the label’s history reveals sounds that were much more electronic and adventurous beyond our shores.
At the same time that the ink was drying on deals with El-P and Big Juss, Rawkus’ heads were scouting out talents in the drum n’ bass and jungle worlds that were finally starting to take hold in New York. Take it from jungle DJ Pish Posh.
“It’s 1997 and I’m spinning at NYC’s premier Jungle/Drum n Bass night Konkrete Jungle at the legendary Wetlands night club and I am approached by Daniel Seliger, an under dressed laid back dude, who tells me he has been checking out my sets at various venues hosting similar DnB nights. He asks me if I would like to come by his office where he is working at a new indie Hip Hop label, Rawkus Records. A few days later I pass by and meet up with Dan and he introduces me to his co workers, two young guys named Jarret Myer and Brian Brater (who I later find out own Rawkus). Dan explains to me that Rawkus is releasing many different underground genres of music from Electro to Drum N Bass and everything else in between on its sister label ‘Primitive’.”
After Rawkus found success with its hip-hop signings, an electronic label beneath the same umbrella kicked into high gear under the synergistic name Raw-Kuts. Posh not only released material on the label; he also played A&R for them and helped to ensure U.S. DnB acts didn’t slip through the label’s fingers.
“Rawkus starts seeing big success with Hip Hop artists like Black Star and Company Flow, and Dan tells me he has the green light to revamp Primitive and rename it ‘Raw-Kuts’. Eventually Dan would get promoted to Marketing director at Rawkus and I would take up some of the slack by signing a few acts,” he said. “Over the next couple of years, we built up the label up by signing some of the freshest stateside DnB artists.”
Raw-Kuts closed its doors at the same time as the hip-hop label that spawned it, but the love for those sounds from the folks involved with the label never went away. And that’s apparent in the new single “Far Away” by Rawkus co-founder Brian Brater, who performs under the name Sherbert Gang.
“Far Away” consists of a deceptively light, yet vocoder-heavy vocal over an undeniable and propulsive drum n’ bass beat. The bright track brings the drum n’ bass sounds out of the club and drops it blinking into the daylight. Perhaps most importantly, it feels every bit like what a Raw-Kuts record would sound like in 2016 had the label still carried on. Check it out up top.
(Ed. Note: Rawkus Records co-founder Jarret Myer currently serves as Editorial Director at Woven Digital, Uproxx’s parent company. Brian Brater was an original co-founder of Uproxx, but is no longer with the company.)