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"We must have an angel looking over our shoulder. The timing couldn’t be better, and the response has been incredible."
—Steve Rifkind, Loud Records
PROUD TO BE LOUD
Rifkind Rocks With Wu-Tang Clan, Xzibit and Funkmaster Flex
Loud Records  is starting to make some serious noise.

The company left the RCA/BMG fold in July '99 for an innovative deal with Columbia Records, where its major releases go through Sony Music Distribution, while others are distributed by RED.

With albums coming out from Mobb Deep's Prodigy (11/14), Wu-Tang Clan (11/21), Funkmaster Flex's "Mix Tape Vol. 4" (12/5) and red-hot Xzibit (12/12), Steve Rifkind's Loud is poised for some serious holiday rapping.

Rifkind, in the midst of a cross-country promotional jaunt to introduce radio and retail to his new releases, took some time out from fumigating his tour bus after a Ricky Leigh visit to say: "We must have an angel looking over our shoulder. The timing couldn't be better, and the response has been incredible."

*Prodigy's "H.N.I.C.," the solo debut from one of the members of the successful Queens, NY, hip-hop act, hit retail this past Tuesday. Mobb Deep's most recent album, last year's "Murda Muzik," moved 200k its first week on its way to 800k sold over the counter. "This is a classic underground record, and if it gets the radio we expect, could launch him into the mainstream," adds Rifkind.

*Wu-Tang Clan's "The W," comes out next week (11/21). It's the long-awaited new album from the multi-Platinum Staten Island hip-hop collective, whose previous album, "Wu-Tang Forever" (1997) sold 600k its first week and has total OTC U.S. sales of 1.8 million to date. The first two singles, "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)" and "Gravel Pit," are already making waves at Rap radio and on mix shows. The Wu-Tang album is the only Loud release going through Columbia's Sony pipeline. "This could be their first hit at Rhythm Xover radio," says Rifkind.

*Rapper Xzibit, currently on the "Anger Management" tour with Limp Bizkit and Eminem, hits the streets Dec. 12 with his new album, "Restless." The first single/ video, "X," is set to premiere next week, featuring the likes of Snoop and Dr. Dre (the LP's executive producer).

*Funkmaster Flex's album will be preceded by the first single, "Do Ya," featuring DMX.

*Loud is also currently working M.O.P's "Warriorz," Three 6 Mafia's "When The Smoke Clears…," soul crooner LV's "How Long" and the "Loud Rocks" compilation, featuring such rap/rock parings as Wu-Tang Clan with System of a Down and Sugar Ray with Tha Alkaholiks.

Rifkind says he couldn't be happier about the relationship between Loud, Columbia, Sony and RED. "We're a fully independent company, with the help of a machine that is the best in the business and can step in when we need to take a record over the top. Or take out Ricky Leigh's knees, if need be."

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