20 Years of Ninja Tune
Nobody puts Ninja in a corner. The London label Ninja Tune, founded in 1990 by Coldcut's Jonathan More and Matt Black, may have gained a rep in the '90s as a home for head-nodding trip-hop and downtempo — perhaps unsurprisingly, given the stoner affect of names like the Herbaliser and Funki Porcini — but in truth, they've always been far more adventurously varied. Even in the early years, artists like New York hip-hop pioneer Steinski rubbed elbows with German experimentalist Burnt Friedman (aka Drome, Nonplace Urban Field) and Ryuichi Sakamoto. In the '00s, the label ventured into increasingly ambitious forays into funk, jazz, dancehall reggae and experimental beats, while at the same time embracing unabashedly sweet soul and folk. Appropriately, for an outfit so deeply informed by multi-cultural London, the label's only real constant is flux.