Grand Royal VS Mo’ Wax — The Collaborations of Mike D & James Lavelle

James Gaunt
6 min readFeb 23, 2019

Grand Royal — Guaranteed Every Time

In 1992 Luscious Jackson had recorded demos for their debut album and were looking for someone to release it. They asked their friends the Beastie Boys for help finding them a record label but the Beastie Boys enjoyed the demos so much they decided to release it themselves and started their own record label Grand Royal.

1993 saw the first Grand Royal release, Luscious Jackson’s debut In Search Of Manny, and was followed by releases by Sean Lennon, Bufallo Daughter, Ben Lee, and Bis. The label also released Beastie Boy related acts such as DFL, DJ Hurricane, BS2000 and nearly every Beastie Boys release during this period. While Grand Royal was seen as the Beastie Boys record label it is Micheal Diamond (Mike D) who is acknowledged as the one who was running the label for the most part.

Meanwhile during the early 1990’s the Beastie Boys were making their first return to the UK since releasing their own debut Licensed To Ill. In May 1987 Adrock had been arrested in Londond during the bands UK tour and while he was later found not guilty the Beastie Boys didn’t return England until 1992, then as part of a short mini-tour promoting their then upcoming album Check Your Head.

Mo’ Wax — More Funk Than A Shaolin Monk

In 1992 James Lavelle started Mo’ Wax Records, named after his club night in Oxford, Mo’ Wax Please, itself named after Freddie Roach’s 1964 album Mo’s Green Please.

Initially the label released Acid Jazz style music like Repercussions and The Federation, similar to what Gilles Peterson was releasing on his Talkin Loud record label. The Acid Jazz scene was evolving in 1994 in to something more Hip Hop influenced, and Lavelle capitalised on this with Headz, a large compilation which pointed the way forward for Mo’ Wax and the sound which would become known as Trip Hop.

James Lavelle had been a huge Beastie Boys fan since their first album was released in 1986, and naturally he wanted to meet them. In 1994 Lavelle’s dreams came true when he supported the Beastie Boys on part of their UK tour, opening as DJ. A larger tour was scheduled for late 1994 but then cancelled when the Beastie Boys’ percussionist injured himself leading to rescheduled dates in 1995. They would all tour together again across 1995/1996 as the Beastie Boys toured…

James Gaunt

An Australian writer with a passion for research. James edits music fanzine The Shadow Knows and writes regularly about Mo’ Wax Records. www.jamesgaunt.com