From Masters At Work to Osunlade, from DJ Vadim to Jay Dee - London's BBE imprint is widely known for its broad spectrum of music, including funk, roots, house and hip hop. It just has to be authentic, danceable and full of soul to fit.
The label's story began in the mid-90s ago when Londoners Peter Adarkwah and Ben Jolly discovered a shared interest in diverse, eclectic sounds covering all genres - from old scratchy Brazilian grooves, 70's funk, via jazz fusion, hip hop and soul to newer garage, disco and techno music. They decided to promote a night where the music that was played would encompass all those styles and more, rather than be restricted to a certain genre as it was in other clubs. The new night was a resounding success and eventually became known under the name Barely Breaking Even - taken from the seminal '82 boogie track by The Universal Robot Band.
Despite being busy with club activities, Adarkwah and Jolly decided to move into the record industry, founding a label named after their night. BBE Records began with releasing the first volume of the acclaimed 'Stop and Listen' series late in 1996. The 'Stop and Listen' concept became something of a blueprint for much of the label's output: Lovingly selected compilations put together by artists, DJs and music lovers from the surroundings of the label, often introducing rare musical styles such as Nigerian 70s funk, Jamaican roots reggae or authentic New York disco.
The roster of BBE's contributors has expanded to a music industry's who's who, with people like Dimitri From Paris, ?uestlove, Masters At Work, Jerome Sydenham, Jay Dee, Pete Rock, Roy Ayers or Marley Marl all having selected or recorded for the label.
Many of these musicians have also recorded artist albums for BBE as part of the ongoing 'Beat Generation' series, alongside producers such as DJ Vadim, DJ Spinna, Vikter Duplaix and Osunlade.
Looking back on a 14 year history, BBE shows no sign of slowing down and seems firmly dedicated to keeping the soul alive.