Ninja Tune Vinyl, CD & tapes from this label at Norman Records
While Coldcut have released some essential records down the years, the Ninja Tune imprint that the pair set up in 1990 will probably go down as their greatest music legacy. Bored of their releases getting bogged down with contractual issues and suchlike, Coldcut set up Ninja Tune as a space for artists to release work free of the economic and sonic expectations of the major labels. Three decades on, Ninja Tune has established itself as a yardstick for all other indie imprints, achieving huge success on its own terms.
Ninja Tune’s through-line is hip-hop - particularly instrumental hip-hop. The label achieved early success with a run of breaks EPs by DJ Food, and throughout the 90s they continued to drop great hip-hop records from artists such as The Cinematic Orchestra, The Herbaliser and DJ Vadim. This all snowballed into Ninja starting to distribute Big Dada, an imprint that has helped define the sound of British hip-hop, rap and adjacent genres by signing the likes of Roots Manuva, Wiley and Young Fathers. Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder and Technicolour Records are two other labels who have their distribution taken care of by the Ninjas.
There’s much more to the Ninja Tune sound than just beats and breaks - down the years they’ve released seminal records from across the electronic musicsphere. The Bug’s anarcho-ragga masterpiece ‘London Zoo’ (2008), Marie Davidson’s knowing EBM set ‘Working Class Woman’ (2018), the deft house of Floating Points’ ‘Crush’ (2019) and most of Mr. Scruff’s whimsical electronica ditties are just a small selection of the LPs to have emerged on Ninja Tune down the years.