In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, while major labels were in pursuit of the latest hustler-turned-rapper stereotypes, it was up to independent labels to offer something different. One of those labels was London’s Lex Records.
Lex Records was almost a non-starter. The seed of an idea was planted when three Sheffield-based graduates, all coincidently named Tom and inspired by albums like Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Tang Forever and Ghostface Killah’s Iron Man, were running a hip hop night called Dropping Science. One of the Tom’s, Tom Brown, was working for Warp Records, and before their idea of running an independent label concurrent to Dropping Science was able to develop, he was whisked off to London, where the label relocated.
Warp had been active since 1989, and was best known at the time for releasing records by British electronic acts, like Aphex Twin, Nightmares On Wax, Boards Of Canada and Autechre, later venturing into left field hip hop by signing artists such as Prefuse 73 and Anti-Pop Consortium. After moving to the capital to run Warp’s live events and mail order store, Brown approached his bosses, Rob Mitchell and Steve Beckett, to tell them of his plan to start releasing 12-inch singles.