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Photo courtesy of Billboard

Photo courtesy of Billboard

From the Streets of L.A. to the Top Charts


From the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles to the top charts, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith has built a success story from what started as a pipe dream.

Starting in 1997, Tiffith, 26-year-old at the time, began to manage local music producers in his area. He then slowly began his transition into building his own home studio to cater to the rapidly expanding industry of rap music. Tiffith started to scout local talent and artists who were starting to gain buzz. He would invite them to record in his studio for free.

But everything changed or rather began when Tiffith started his own label, “Top Dawg Entertainment,” (TDE) in 2004. Top Dawg found its breadwinner in a 15-year-old local rapper who had just released his first mixtape and was starting to draw a lot of local attention. His name was Kendrick Lamar.

Top Dawg found the rest of its key pieces in local hardened street rapper Jay Rock, gangster yet hippy rapper Schoolboy Q, and the strange yet fascinating Ab-Soul. Together these four became the core of the group and also formed hip-hop superpower group “Black Hippy.”

With these four intact and with some other key additions such as SZA, Isaiah Rashad, and Lance Skiiiwalker, the label has quickly risen to the top of the industry. The past five albums released by the label have all gone on to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Kendrick Lamar has remained the face of the label over the years and also one of Tiffith’s closest and most trusted friends. His sophomore album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D Citydebuted with 242,000 copies sold – the second biggest hip-hop opener in 2012. He came back again with “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which became Kendrick’s first number one album and sold 324,000 copies in its first week when it released in March. His most recent album, “DAMN,” was the fastest-selling album of 2017 (603,000 units in the first week) and hit number one on Billboard. It also won a Grammy this year for “Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year.” (

The other three core members, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul have all also found success over the years. Rock has since released his own debut album, “Follow Me Home,” in July of 2011 after signing a joint venture with Strange Music. He has also put out his sophomore album, “90059.” Q’s albums “Oxymoron” and “Blank Face LP” both went on to hit number one on the Billboard charts and achieved global success. Ab-Soul is best known for his introspective lyrics and his four independent albums under TDE: “Longterm Mentality,” “Control System,” “These Days…,” and “Do What Thou Wilt.,” which were all released to positive reviews and commercial success. (

Label newcomer and singer SZA has also been making waves in the music industry. She recently put out her debut album, “CTRL,” which debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 and also spawned the platinum-certified singles “The Weekend” and “Love Galore,” which features rapper Travis Scott.

Truly at the top of its game, Top Dawg Entertainment is looking the best it has ever been. With an incredibly diverse artist roster, five number-one albums, over 3 million records sold, an ever-expanding global fanbase, and Grammy nominations, one thing is certain: anything is possible for Tiffith and his crew.

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