Since its conception in 2003, Freestyle Records has become renowned for representing music that is of a timeless quality. The labels catalogue is impressive to say the least, its ‘freestyle’ ethos equals an eclectic body of releases under the umbrella of black roots music: funk, jazz, soul and reggae are just a few of the genres covered.

The label was founded by Adrian Gibson in partnership with Danny Ryan of Kudos Records Distribution. Gibson is a former club promoter who was responsible for the longstanding ‘Messin’ Around’ nights at London’s legendary Jazz Café – these events were a central hub for the funk, jazz and latin music scene just as Freestyle Records has become a part of the fabric of the roots community.  Adrian Gibson has since departed the label.

Since 2010, Greg Boraman, previously A&R man for Acid Jazz Records has been central to Freestyle’s creative direction.  The role of A&R manager couldn’t have gone to a more fitting person; an artist in his own right – playing both organ and electric piano as part of the The Fantastics! – Boraman is a tastemaker whose life-long love affair with music ensures the Freestyle ethos of quality sounds is continued whilst he takes the label in exciting new directions!

For Freestyle Records, the story began in a manner rare for many independents; early 12”s by acclaimed scene names such as JTQ ft Roy Ayers and Soulive’s ‘Doin Something’ EP, a release that featured renowned collaborators including: The Beatnuts, DJ Spinna and Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 contributed to the imprint becoming well respected in the space of only a few releases – a rare feat.

Following the labels early years, Freestyle Records signed a number of artists whom making their label debuts between 2005 and 2006 have since released numerous works on Freestyle, giving the label a distinct family feel. Lack of Afro is one such example, as is Jazz Juice – both artists whom relatively early in their career on joining the label were quickly heralded by music aficionados.

The label not only represents well crafted music by upcoming artists but also established acts. The period of 2005 to 2006 saw many exciting signings; The Apples, an act whom prior to joining Freestyle were already established in their home city of Tel Aviv have since put out a substantial body of groove-heavy music– perhaps their most acclaimed Freestyle release being 2010s ‘Kings’ LP an album that saw the band collaborate with Fred Wesley and Shlomo Bar. Speedometer also joined the Freestyle camp in 2005. Their debut label  7” ‘Work it Out / City Strut’ set the bar for the work that would follow and they are now widely regarded as a band at the forefront of British funk.

With a constantly growing roster of eclectic talent, it’s no surprise that Freestyle Records has become a cornerstone black roots music label. Freestyle artists continue to push boundaries and display brilliant musicianship. Take for example afrobeat band The Shaolin Afronauts, joining the Freestyle family in 2011 with the highly regarded 12” ‘Journey Through Time’, this is a band whom consistently put out enticing music that appeals to audiences from across the musical spectrum. Other talented acts that have joined Freestyle in recent years include: Ray Lugo & The Boogaloo Destroyers and The Jessica Lauren Four. 

Freestyle Records is a much loved imprint. As Dom Servini summarises (Straight No Chaser) “Freestyle always delivers the goods. Whether it be a cheeky dance floor cut-up, or deep & jazzy b-side, this imprint always comes up trumps!” It’s a highly praised label and for good reason; Freestyle embodies a culture. The label has won fans as far afield as: Kenny Dope, Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, Mr Scruff, Danny Krivit, Peter Young (Jazz FM), Robert Elms, Mark Lamarr, Annie Mac, Quantic, Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2) Rob Da Bank, Shane Woolman (The Wire) Kev Beadle, DJ Yoda, Nick Luscombe (BBC Radio 3) and countless other DJs and radio presenters worldwide.

With many exciting projects in the pipeline, including new and re-issue material forthcoming from the legendary jazz keyboardist Brian Auger, not to mention a re-issue of the super rare Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers 'African Party' album, this is a label to keep a very close eye on!