Rhymesayers Entertainment celebrates 20 years as a label this year. The Minneapolis, Minnesota label went from humble beginnings touring the Rock circuit to becoming one of the biggest names in underground Rap.

An oral history published by MTV News today (December 4) details how CEO Brent “Siddiq” Sayers started the independent label in 1995 with his friends Sean “Slug” Daley, Anthony “Ant” Davis, Derek “Spawn” Turner and Musab “Beyond” Saad.

Through the years, the label garnered a loyal fanbase and a strong brand. The founders were approached by many major labels asking to partner with them.

“The Interscope one was the funniest because we got in there and we met with Jimmy Iovine,” Siddiq says. “It was the last day of our trip and they literally were like, ‘No, we’ll change your flight. We’re gonna stay in this room until we work out a deal.’ We were like, ‘Huh? Nah. Why don’t you send us the deal? We’ll go over it with our lawyer and get back to you next week.’ That seemed to make sense to us, but I think they were really shook.

“It didn’t seem like they really got it,” Siddiq adds of the major labels calling. “It seemed like, at that moment in time, they were trying to cherry-pick Atmosphere. I don’t think they got the big picture of Rhymesayers. In a sense, we probably could have done something that they’ve done more recently with TDE, but things like that back then weren’t commonplace for a major label.”

Rhymesayers, whose acts include Brother Ali and the group Atmosphere, has since been an influence for newer independent artists and labels like Joey Bada$$ and Top Dawg Entertainment, who has a partnership with Interscope.

Rhymesayers Entertainment is set to celebrate its 20-year anniversary with a concert tonight at the Target Center in Minneapolis.