These days, when the Golden Era of 90’s Hip hop is brought up, first thing that comes to mind is backpacks and Boom bap. To the contrary, the reason its called the Golden Era, it’s because there was a large assortment of hip hop you can choose from and that’s when rap was at it’s most creative peeks. Back when MTV and BET only played music videos, there was a healthy balance of styles of rap you were exposed to. At any given time, you can see a gangsta rap video from Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, a east coast style by Nas or Biggie, a southern style by Outkast and back to a random east coast rap by The Digable Planets. What a time to be alive, you just had to be there. Now for the first time ever, Universal Music Enterprises found the right person to catalog and package this great era to .
To vinyl fanatics, Andre Torres is living the dream. As founder of Wax Poetics, a magazine for hip-hop, jazz and soul crate-diggers that he launched in 2001, Torres has been a champion for lost classics for the past 20 years. Now, after stepping down from the publication in 2016 and spending a year as executive editor at lyrics site Genius, Torres has been named the first-ever vp urban catalog at Universal Music Enterprises, the major’s global catalog division, reporting to UMe president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff.
In an interview this month, Resnikoff explained his decision to expand into urban with Torres’ hiring. “When I started in this business, catalog releases and marketing favored classic rock and pop,” he told Billboard’s Robert Levine. “We’ve always had a strong urban catalog — look at Motown. But there are hip-hop catalogs from the ‘90s and the ‘00s that have yet to be marketed [as reissues]. So I hired Andre Torres to oversee our urban catalog business.”
For Torres, whose time at Wax Poetics was often spent digging up those old recordings and giving them a new luster in the pages of the magazine, the chance to get into Universal’s vast archives — which include iconic hip-hop labels like Def Jam, Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella, No Limit and a slew of others — was irresistible. “I would have never been able to write this job description, because it would have seemed like a dream come true,” Torres tells Billboard. “This is our classic music. This is what we see as the future of catalog.”
As he looks to get his new job under way, Torres explains to Billboard his plans to revitalize an archive of pioneering labels to give their records another spin, and lays out his plans for what the catalog business could be as hip-hop comes of age.