Marseille made a historic move into the music industry on Thursday after the announcement that the French Ligue 1 club had launched a rap record label alongside music industry titan BMG.
In a statement, BMG said that OM Records was “a new label for hip-hop, rap, and R&B” and is to be based in the southern French city, which has long been one of the country’s major hip-hop hubs.
To celebrate the new label a jet black double decker bus with some of the city’s local rap stars and DJs on board, played music around France’s second-largest city.
“It’s good that the club is doing this,” said rapper Hollis l’Infame, a lifelong Marseille fan who wears the team’s white shirt in his videos.
“I think I was a Marseille fan even before I was born, it’s in our genes.”
Head of A&R Emilie Hauck told AFP that OM Records is a “50-50 joint venture” between the club and BMG and “the first time ever that a record industry major and a club like OM have come together to create a label”.
Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said: “Marseille has been a cradle of French rap and hip-hop since the IAM collective and the links between OM and local artists have been strong for years.”
IAM have been one of France’s most important rap groups since the late 1980s and have long collaborated with iconic American group Wu-Tang Clan.
“The launch of OM Records strengthens this link and symbolises the club’s desire to promote the unique energy that emanates from Marseille and its people all over the world,” added Eyraud.
The new label will offer opportunities for artists and groups from “Marseille, the South of France and Africa”, said BMG’s General Manager for France Sylvain Gazaignes.
The first album to be released on OM Records will a compilation called ‘Vendredi 13’ (‘Friday the 13th’) and will be produced by the four people behind the B18 label created in the tough northern districts of Marseille a year ago.