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Hip Hop Awards 2022: Who is Steve Rifkind? Get to Know the Man Who Gave Some of Rap’s Legends Their First Big Break

The executive is responsible for signing acts including Remy Ma, Wu-Tang Clan, and the late Big Pun.

The 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards are right around the corner, and it’s slated to be one of the most significant events ever. This year’s ceremony will not only honor the biggest and rising acts in hip hop music and culture, but we’ll also be celebrating 30 years of the iconic LOUD Records and pioneering founder Steve Rifkind.

Steve is responsible for the careers of several of the industry’s most influential artists, including inaugural signee Twista, Big Pun, Wu-Tang Clan, award show host Fat Joe, and many more.Performances to commemorate the legendary label include David Banner featuring Lil’ Flip, Dead Prez, Mobb Deep with Lil’ Kim, and that’s only the beginning.  As we gear up for hip hop’s biggest night, get to know Stever, the man who gave some of rap’s legends their first big break.

  • Loud Records was a family affair

    Steve created Loud in 1991 alongside Rich Isaacson and ran the company like a traditional family business. Jonathan Rifkind, one of Steve’s two brothers, served as the label’s executive vice president while his mother worked as their travel agent. Stever’s father even did some independent radio promotion for the brand.

  • Chicago-born emcee Twista was the first artist he signed

    Veteran rapper Twista signed his first recording deal with Steve’s Loud Records. With musical influences such as LL Cool J, Rakim, Kool G Rap, and The Beastie Boys, it seemed like the right fit for the emcee, who had already begun making waves in the underground scene.

    However, at the time of the rapper’s partnership, the company was transitioning from a promotion company to an official record label. The two group’s business agreements didn’t pan out as intended, as Loud transformed from a promotion company to a record label. Twista ultimately became an independent artist again before making a resurgence in the early 2000s.

  • He comes from a line of music executives

    Nearly thirty years before the launch of Loud Records, Steve’s late father and his uncle Julie and Roy Rifkind established an r&b record label, Spring Records, along with co-founder Bill Spitalsky. Their notable acts included Millie Jackson, Joe Simon, and The Fatback Band.

  • He’s a philanthropist

    In 1996, Steve and his childhood friend, psychologist Dr. Gary Altheim, created Camp Excel, a week-long overnight camp for underprivileged children struggling with learning disabilities. The executive has also sponsored several breast cancer charities, donating the profits from his 'Think Pink Rocks' concerts to breast cancer research. Its first event took place in 2008 and was hosted by Queen Latifah and featured several SRC Records artists.

  • He’s signed and broke some of the most prominent artists in hip hop history

    In 2007 XXL said Steve was “responsible for breaking some of hip-hop's biggest artists in his 25 years in the business.” The record executive’s artist roster includes several prominent names, including Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun, Mobb Deep, and Xzibit.  He also managed legendary r&b group New Edition before starting Loud Records.

    Watch the Hip Hop Awards on  Tuesday, October 4, at 9 PM ET/PT on BET

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