Big Dada

Big Dada is a British independent record label imprint distributed by Ninja Tune. It was started by reputed hip hop journalist Will Ashon in 1997. It is best known for being the home of prominent British hip hop artist Roots Manuva, poet and playwright Kate Tempest, grime pioneer Wiley, rapper and designer DELS and Mercury Prize winners Speech Debelle and Young Fathers.

Big Dada
FounderWill Ashon
Distributor(s)Ninja Tune
GenreHip hop, dub, grime, electronic dance music
Country of originUnited Kingdom


Big Dada's first release was Alpha Prhyme's 12-inch single Misanthropic, a collaboration between Luke Vibert and Juice Aleem in 1997.[1] Over the following years, the label has released over one hundred and fifty records[2] and garnered considerable critical acclaim, being described by Observer Music Monthly as "the very best underground hip hop label."[3]

In 2007, Big Dada released the compilation Well Deep to celebrate their tenth anniversary. NME said the label was "not only a platform for the British urban underground but also attracts some of the most progressive wordsmiths and beat-scientists in the whole world... Big Dada are still pushing things forward."[4] As the quote suggests, Big Dada is not exclusively a label for British acts. Their roster has also featured contributions from American hip hop artists including Bigg Jus, Busdriver, Mike Ladd and French hip hop group TTC. They also released debut albums by both Diplo and Spank Rock, as well as the comeback album from grime legend Wiley, who was so pleased with the record deal they offered that he recorded "50/50" in tribute.[5]

On 8 September 2009, Big Dada artist Speech Debelle won the 2009 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for her debut album Speech Therapy produced by Wayne Lotek. It was the label's third nomination, after Roots Manuva's Run Come Save Me in 2002 and Ty's Upwards in 2003.[6]

Roots Manuva, one of the label's best known artist, signed a new deal with the label in 2011. In the 2007 documentary for the label Well Deep, he said, "It's been a lovely relationship over the years... Big Dada's unique and it will always be unique because it's a philosophy, y'know? It's unique because it dares to stick its neck out and it's run by people who genuinely love music. It's not just a record label, it's a movement."[7]

Roster (current)

Roster (alumni)

Compilation discography

  • Black Whole Styles (1998)
  • SOUND01: A Big Dada Sampler (2001)
  • Extra Yard:The Bouncement Revolution (2002)
  • Well Deep: Ten Years of Big Dada Recordings (2007)

See also


  1. Swash, Rosie (8 June 2009). Label of love: Big Dada - Music - The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2012-03-25.
  2. "Big Dada". Big Dada. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  3. Mulholland, Garry (1 February 2004). 'Dead Dogs Two' by cLOUDDEAD - OMM - The Observer. The Observer. Retrieved on 2012-03-25.
  4. "NME Reviews - Various Artists: 'Well Deep: Ten Years Of Big Dada Recordings'". Nme.Com. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  5. Chick, Stevie (26 October 2007). Stevie Chick on Big Dada Records - Music - The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2012-03-25.
  6. Archived 5 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Roots Manuva 'Well Deep' Interview". YouTube. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  9. "Big Dada to release final, posthumous album by Offshore". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
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