More pro than Anticon

A&E talks to Baillie Parker, one of the co-owners of Anticon Records

Megan Kadrmas

Baillie Parker, one of the eight co-owners of Anticon Records, chatted with A&E about business, history and Minnesota. Anticon, with artists such as Martin Dosh, Doseone and Sole, is considered by some to be one of the most diverse and wide-ranging hip-hop labels in the nation.

How did you get involved in Anticon?

I moved out to San Francisco from St. Louis in 1999. The core Anticon artists moved out here about the same time and had a monthly showcase. I started checking out the showcases and met Sole and Doseone. We formed a friendship and eventually a friend of theirs, who worked at a local distributor, got me a job helping Anticon with distribution. As the label started to grow, the artists weren’t capable of running the business anymore. They needed someone who was not an artist, a neutral member to take care of their business affairs. They entrusted me with the job and agreed to make me a co-owner. I helped them officially set up the company as an LLC with 8 owner-members, each as partners.

What is your role in the business?

I am the general manager, the managing partner and the CEO. I run day-to-day operations, which means overseeing everything from studio time to manufacturing, marketing and promotions. I manage the partners we work with, the radio promotion companies, public relation companies, booking agents and licensing companies. I oversee the finances. I end up doing a lot of default artist management too, since none of our artists have managers.

What is your Minnesota connection?

I grew up in South Minneapolis. I left in 1995 to go to college and only come back a couple times a year to see my old friends. I am a proud Minnesotan, though, and most of my favorite people are there. In a way, too, I might not have ever discovered Anticon if it wasn’t for the Rhymesayers connection. One of our hardest-working and most exciting artists is local, too – Mr. Martin Dosh, plus our buddies Fog. So, lots of connections. Sometimes I think about moving back, but then I remind myself of those old, dark, cold nights in January and February.

What projects or events are you looking forward to this year?

We’re cracking it wide open with some new artists. On Jan. 23 we’re releasing Bracken’s debut called “We Know About the Need.” It’s the new project of Chris Adams of the band Hood. Really proud to be associated with him – Hood is a band we all have a lot of admiration for. Then we’re putting out another project by a U.K. guy called S.J. Esau. Really great original indie-pop stuff. That’s coming out in March. Then Alias is putting out a remix record: it’s a compilation of remixes he’s done for people like John Vanderslice, Lali Puna, 13 & God, Lucky Pierre and Sixtoo. Lots of good stuff. In April, we’re putting out an amazing record by another new signee called Thee More Shallows. They’re San Francisco locals and have a great following already. Their new record called “Book of Bad Breaks” is going to blow people away. There are a bunch of other things coming down the pipeline, too. New Odd Nosdam, a “Man’s Best Friend” record from Sole, a new Why? Record – all this year!

Where do you hope to see the label go in this New Year?

Some people still think of Anticon as a collective or a group of similar artists, but with all these new signings, I think people will start to understand we’re branching out. And not just with new artists, but getting into really different kinds of music. I think we have a unique perspective and ear for the kind of stuff we’re into, and we’re going to start sharing what we like with our audience by releasing those things. It’s great to be in a position to bring new people on board who need to be heard.

What have been some of your favorite memories with Anticon?

It’s so hard to get perspective when it’s in your face all the time. But I think about how naïve and disorganized but exciting and fun things were when we had just started.

It was haphazard and we were all learning along the way, but in a way it was more fun back then. Now it’s more serious and business-like. We’re getting old and trying to live off a business that, to some degree, is shrinking away. (We’ve) kind of got to stay on top of our game.

Anticon was formed in 1998, which would make next year the 10 year anniversary of the label. What are you guys planning to celebrate this milestone?

There is some debate as to whether it was 1997 or ’98. Once we get that resolved, we do plan on putting together some amazing, monster shows or maybe even a tour. We’re also hoping to do another label compilation like the first one Anticon put out. New exclusive songs from everyone, as well as tracks from people we like who are not on the label.

And we’re going to start releasing some never-before-released material – old stuff that our die-hard fans have been dying to hear – maybe on limited vinyl or something.