Tuesday, 22 May 2018

BCUG Spotlight: Record Labels

The music industry has always been plagued with the issue of the "front man" The one that, whether intentional or not, gets the majority of the attention and fame regardless of how many extremely talented individuals put their heart and soul into the project. With our BCUG Spotlight Series, we try to take some of that limelight and shed it on the people or organizations that operate in the darker corners of the process who help curate the music we all love to enjoy.

We reached out to many of the local hip hop record labels to gain some insight on the business end of the industry and get a better understanding of the many different groups that are putting in work across British Columbia...

 Hazmat Music


Location: Vancouver
Genre: Hip Hop
Vicious 5150
DZ Man

BCUG: You are the founding member, correct?

RCThaHazard: Yes I am the founder. It was established in 2009 I was the only founder but DekstOne (popular smoked out and kotd battler) helped me come up with the name.

BCUG: What was your ultimate goal when you decided to create the company?

RC: My ultimate goal when I started the company was to build a brand of like minded individuals to be able to help each other and teach each other things. Everyone in hazmat specializes in their own strengths and skill sets. Future plans. There has been a few transformations to who is officially part of the HazMatMusic roster since it's establishment. But I feel all the pieces are in a place for a strong but tight knit family now. We still have DekstOne and Vicious 5150 who have been part of the team since day 1. J-ClaWsin who joined in early 2013, Shua, who is from and lives in Seattle has been part of the team since 2014. He does stage lighting, web design and writes novels too. Dizzy is a developing solo artist under the name brand who has been helping us build a name through the Vancouver island scene but he's back and forth between Surrey and the island. Another friend, CMO who has specialized in Graff since I've known him and growing to be much more skilled as an event planner too..Dizzy and CMO joined in 2016. Last but not least, last year (2017), we invited SkamOne into the family as our HazMat photographer and videographer. The late great DZ Man was always part of the HazMat family too (R.I.P.).

BCUG: What are the future plans for Hazmat?

RC: It's hard to say too much about any new signees right now because it truly needs to feel like not only family but we only want to work with people who have the same mind set towards our long term music goals as well....but I have been keeping my eyes open for a DJ. Our plans for this year start with promoting J-ClaWsin's first official solo cd (Clawstrophobia) followed by the release of my documentary focused primarily on the BC music scene and artists within it which has an accompanying soundtrack produced by me. Titled "100 More" because I set the ridiculous goal of finding over 100 artists for the soundtrack and over 100 artists for the documentary too. Sometime later in the year we will have our HazMatCrew LP released as well. Side note ** Another reason for calling it 100more is because it is a follow up from my first documentary attempt in 2012/2013. 
Thanks again Rob!

 IAL Records


Location: Abbotsford
Genre: Hip Hop
Mason Rex
Mike Wiald
Walter The 17th
Noah Dacosta
Young J
DJ Bird
Forest Green

BCUG: Could you tell us a little bit about how the company started?

Mason Rex: IAL was founded by Timothy Mason Gerchikov (AKA Mason Rex) in fall 2012. Mason brought a group of local rappers together through facebook and by chance created a strong-knit group of talented artists, producers, and DJs.  

BCUG: Who is currently on the roster? 

Mason Rex: Mason Rex - Founder/Artist / Producer, Mike Wiald - Artist / Writer,
Walter the 17th - Artist / Musician, Noah Dacosta - Artist / Rapper, Young J - Artist / Rapper,
DJ Bird - DJ / Contributer, Forest Green - Producer / Contributer, and a few more developing artist under our wings.

BCUG:  What is the most difficult part of running a record label in today's fast paced, ever-changing landscape?

Mason Rex: Adjusting to the consumers primary method of consumption. Creating content that engages the viewer in an oversaturated market. Branding yourself as an individual for the same reason.

BCUG: What do you have planned in the near future for IAL?  

Mason Rex: IAL is looking to strengthen the brand reputation by creating high-quality visual content and releasing progressive hip-hop and R&B music that can break new ground in an otherwise crowded local scene. 

 Stealth Bomb Records


Location: Vancouver
Genre: Hip Hop
Snak The Ripper
Jaclyn Gee
Edgar Penwork

Founded, owned and operated by Snak The Ripper. In a recent interview we did with Snak, he confirmed that several new acts are to be added to the roster this year. The original article can be found Here. 

BCUG: To anyone that has been paying close attention to Stealth Bomb Records, it has been no secret that there have been changes going on within the label. We have been told from various sources that it is common knowledge that Merkules is no longer with Stealth Bomb but we have not seen any official statement from the Label. Are you able to confirm that Merkules is no longer on the roster?

Snak: Yes I can. But before I get into that, let me first clarify what Stealth Bomb Records does. We are a indie record label yes, but our main focus is ‘’artist development and career guidance’’. In basic terms, we are a management team. We find up and coming artists who have recognizable talent and put them on tour all over the world. In addition, we teach them how to turn their passion for music into a real career, with the expectation that one day they can run things themselves. We’re like business school for musicians. I have over 10 years experience in the Canadian Music Industry, and I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years with other artists that I believe in. When I first started Stealth Bomb in 2013, I was managing Merkules and handling most of his business affairs myself. I might actually be one of the first people on this entire planet to recognize his talent for music. As the years went on, we took on more artists, and our label got bigger. Merkules learned a lot about the business being on Stealth Bomb Records over the years, and he currently has his own business operation with a great team of hard working individuals behind him. I feel honoured to have been apart of Merk’s career development, and I am extremely proud to see how well he is doing on his own. After all, we specialize in career guidance, so having Merk spread his wings and take on the business himself was our goal all along.

BCUG: There have been some obvious tensions between Merkules and your booking agent at Good Friday Entertainment after some name-calling spilled out over the internet. Do you wish to comment on what happened between them and was their souring relationship ever a contributing factor to Merkules leaving the label? 

Snak: Its unfortunate. I connected Merk with Perry years ago. They did some work together and had a falling out over some kind of disagreement, I’m not exactly sure of the details. They stopped working together long before Merk started doing his own thing away from SBR. It was difficult for me to be in the middle of two people fighting, especially when they are both my good friends who I work with on a daily basis. But business is business and sometimes friendships don’t work out when you mix the two. I don’t take sides, I’m cool with almost everybody. Grudges are unhealthy.

BCUG: Are there still good relations between you and Good Friday Entertainment?

Snak: Yes. Perry is my boy. But let me clarify something else - Perry is my booking agent, he is not my manager. He does not work for Stealth Bomb Records, he works for Snak The Ripper. I get that theres some people out there (mostly struggling artists and cheap promoters) that don’t like the way he handles his affairs. He’s a shrewd negotiator, but I have no problems with that. He might be an asshole, but I like that about him. It’s refreshing in an industry full of fake smiles and horse shit. He books my shows and puts money in my pocket, so I have nothing but love for Perry.

BCUG: Are there any ill feelings between you and Merkules?

Snak: Hell no. Merkules and I have been through way too much together. That's my brother for life.

BCUG: Many people are excited at the notion of new music coming from the both of you and everyone is dying to know, are the two of you planning on making any more music together?

Snak: I really hope so. I hit him up a couple times recently to work on some stuff with me but we’ve both been on tour for most of the year and its been difficult to connect. Im sure it’ll happen when the time is right.

BCUG: Speaking about new music, you recently released what looks to be artwork for a new album. Any news you can give us on this? Album name, Release dates, features, tours etc.

Snak: Yeah I have 2 new albums dropping before May. I don’t want to say too much about it, but the music I’m working on right now is my best work yet. I’m putting a lot more time and effort into my song writing and video concepts. I quit smoking cigarettes two years ago, so my voice has changed a bit.. it’s still grimy but I’m able to control it now. I just want to entertain people.. so thats what I’m gonna do. I was on tour most of this year, so I’m taking some time off from that. I’ll be back out on the road later this year, but not any time soon. I just want to make music and live a normal life like everyone else for a bit.

BCUG: A recent behind-the-scenes photo of your video shoot shows you standing with Young Sin. It's good to see him back in action. Another common question we keep seeing is: "What are the chances of hearing another Brass Tackz album?"

Snak: There has been talk of this. I guess we’ll see what happens!

BCUG: You and SDK have had a very close relationship over the years. We noticed that Ephin is no longer carrying your brand anymore. What was the reason behind this and does this have anything to do with the Stealth Bomb website being under construction?

Snak: The Stealth Bomb Records website is under construction because our old website sucked. We are currently working on getting the new page up and running and it’s going to look amazing. Earlier this year, I found out that I’m going to be a Dad, and I realized that there's a lot of things that I pay people to do, that I could easily do myself. Selling my own Merch is one of those things. I am now 100% independent, so if you buy something of mine, you are supporting me directly, which I know some fans prefer. I also wanted to expand my merchandise store and my website, so that my fans had more choices. It just makes the most sense to have all my music related stuff on one website. Im about to add a whole bunch of brand new designs to my website later this month, so look out for that. My relationship with Ephin is the same as it’s always been, those are my dudes and it’s all love, they just aren’t selling my merchandise anymore. I read a comment on Facebook and someone asked if I was still repping SDK cause they saw that my stuff wasn’t on the Ephin site anymore. Let me be clear about this: I WILL ALWAYS BE SDK. Shit is tattooed on me forever. It really doesn’t matter where my t-shirts are being sold.

BCUG: The growth that Stealth Bomb has accomplished in the past couple years is astonishing. With so many new additions to the label, do you plan on adding any new names within the next year?

Snak: Yes, we’re adding new talent to the roster in the coming months. I have my eye on a few local artists.. but its too early to say anything about that yet.

BCUG:  Thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions. 

Snak: No Problem. Cheers.

 Lowkey Operationz


Founded, owned and operated by J-Geezy & GKane
Location: Surrey
Genre: Hip Hop
Ace Boogie

BCUG: So you and Gkane started the label correct? How did that come about and how did the two of you meet?

J-Geezy: Ye we started it but gkane and his homies came up with the name. we call each other cousins but we are not related by blood, our moms are really good friends and have known each other for many years 

BCUG. When was the company founded?

J-Geezy: Early 2017

BCUG: You have a knack for finding new talent. You mentioned that there were more up-n-comers that you will be working with soon. Can you give us any details on these guys?

J-Geezy: Be on the look out for Ace Boogie, Jbones who have yet to drop any music but have been working hard in the studio, and will be dropping music very soon on all platforms.

BCUG: What are your future plans for Lowkey?

J-Geezy: We wanna expand the brand and grow to be known as the go to for great music and entertainment. we wanna be able to tour canada and BC and sell out every show. we also plan to sign a bunch of dope female acts and showcase thier talent.

 Nyhla Records

Location: Vancouver
Genre: Multiple
Angus Maude
Biggie BK
brookx (pka Eros Taylor)
Craig Corea 
Garrison Cade 

BCUG: Who is the company owner/founder and what year was it established?

Angus Maude: Angus Maude founded the company in March 2015 and is currently the CEO/President. Taylor Friginette & Sam Herman are the Vice Presidents and co-owners. All three are also artists on the label. Thank you for the continued support, it means a lot!

BCUG: What artists do you guys currently have on the roster?

Angus Maude: Our current roster of artists are as follows:  Angus Maude, Biggie BK, Billie-Rae, brookx (pka Eros Taylor), Craig Corea, Garrison Cade, howl, maSHerman.

 Baby Fresh Productions


Location: Surrey/Gastown
Genre: Hip Hop
Baby Fresh
Scody Jonez
Co-founded in 2014 by Spencer Thexton and Isaiah Houston. A Vancouver based group of producers & artists including Baby Fresh, 4, Scody Jonez & Keemzie. Baby Fresh Productions is an Independent Record Label focused on pushing the next wave of music coming from the Pacific Northwest. In addition to producing our signed artists, we offer a variety of audio, visual, and management services to all artists & groups looking to take their music to the next level.

BCUG: BFP was founded by you and Isaiah in 2014 correct? and is it still the 3 rappers Baby Fresh, Keemzie and Scody signed to the label?

Spencer Thexton: Yeah that's right bruh

BCUG: Anything else going on with the label? Anything new planned for BFP?

Spencer: Yeah we have things in the works with some artists but nothing 100% yet, adding some local producers in the next month or so. Also we just recently opened our studio in Gastown & are looking for new talent.

 Rain Drop Records


Location: Gastown
Genre: Hip Hop, Electronic, Punk
Dobbers Beats

We had a quick chat with Rain Drops founder/owner Gully about the label:

BCUG: Are you the sole founder/owner?

Gully: Myself (Gully) and my business partner (Dobbers Beats) run Rain Drop Records. I am the owner and he helps manage it.  

BCUG: What year was it founded?

Gully: Our label was founded in 2016 after I had left my old record label.

BCUG:  What is the complete artist line-up? 

Gully: Our artists include: CINBLIND CWOLF COLT45 GULLY JETHRO DOBBERS BEATS.  We feature all of our side projects such as mine and Dobbers punk band 'The Morgan' which has an album out on iTunes and spotify now. Called 'Your Roshes Are Fake'.
The label also doubles as aa recording studio. I've been working with local artists all over BC with this studio.

BCUG: Does the label cover any genres other than hip hop?

Gully: We try to stay in the Hip Hop/ Electronic scene, however, we all love to branch out, take chances and make songs within the realm of other genres. So in short, yeah we cover a bit of everything. But our main focus is hip hop

BCUG: Any upcoming plans for the label? 

Gully: Not really. We do however have one of my albums 'Seven-11' coming out on Friday. And a collaborative album between Cinblind and I Coming out this summer called 'Bastards Of The Rotten'

Labcatz Entertainment


 Location: Richmond
Genre: Multiple

Noe W3ll (Francis Bawasanta) - Producer/Artist/Writer
Latif Ullah - Producer/Director/Writer
Audriune (Roy Adrian Manansala) Artist/Writer
Franz Dioneda - Dancer/Choreographer

LabCatz Entertainment was established in 2012

Originally it was Just Latif Ullah and Noe W3ll making beats and writing songs in a small 150 sqft studio. Initially the name LabCatz was created as an homage and call back to the R&B producing team the Underdogs. Early LabCatz projects were very heavily R&B flavored, inspired more by artists like Jodeci, G.U.Y, Teddy Riley, Omarion, Chris Brown, and Bobby Valentino. 

Latif enjoyed the process, but eventually started making more traditional hip hop beats. His early influences include Nas, Wu Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, and Mos Def. Eventually Audriune joined the group and Latif found the perfect collaborator. He would make beats, and Audriune would write songs. It took  a couple years of trial and error before coming up with something that felt right. 

In the meantime Noe W3ll was making R&B instrumentals, writing songs and coming up with melodies. After adding Audriune to the group and final member Franz Dioneda (Our resident choreographer) we knew we needed a bigger space. For a few months the LabCatz had their HQ in Surrey, B.C. and then they found a spot in Richmond B.C. where they've been working out of since October 2015. As of 2018 they are about to upgrade to their fourth studio space.

Before the LabCatz we're officially formed Audriune, Franz and Latif were already collaborating in a different art form. They had dance trio called XSS and competed in Vancouver and internationally. When Latif and Noe W3ll met the focus started moving towards music. 

2018 is the breakout year for the independent label, the early years were about experimenting and building a strong foundation. The style of music we are aiming to put out also isn't really predicated on what's hot at the moment. We have a deep love for R&B and hip hop music and we believe fusing elements from the genres we love will resonate with the type of audience we are trying to reach. Noe W3ll who is the veteran of the group and has been singing since 1993, and stared producing as early as 2004. In the songs that require more melodic hooks or R&B flavored piano arrangements his experience is more than valuable.

What makes the LabCatz different from other labels? Quality and execution. Latif Ullah who is running the label's day to day operation is very meticulous when it comes to branding and creation. While working as a producer and building the LabCatz brand he studied business, marketing, and is a graduate of Vancouver Film School. He's been working in the film industry for six years now and has produced short films, music videos, and feature films. 

This is one of the few labels where our product is truly from the creative hive within the brand. We produce the music, write the songs, and shoot the videos. There are more than enough creative ideas between Noe W3ll, Audriune, and Franz. After an idea is formed as a collective, Latif steps in and focuses on execution. 

We plan to release lots of music the next year, and we're only getting started.

Independent Genteration


Location: Nanaimo
Genre: Multiple
Alex Cruz
Bhrama Blue
Seymour Cheddar
Taylor Kate
Yuno Q

BCUG: As a relatively new label, what are some of the challenges of building a company like IG into something sustainable for yourself and your team members?

Teus Darosa: When I first started IG I had a vision to be the opposite of a record lable. I wanted to run a business that helped breed independent artists that would hire me to provide the services of a record lable. Alot of people start companies and call themselfs record labels but a label needs money to invest into artist. Generally a record lable will pay for everything and then bill you for the exspensese once your album drops. I had a vision to eliminate the responsibility that comes with being a label and establishing a team of self driven independent artists. The biggest challenge was finding the right people to fit this plan... after a few years I have been blessed to find those people. The rest is just hard work and alot of marketing. Social media has changed the industry drastically and one can make it big with out leaving the house.

BCUG: Who is on the current roster. Can you tell me a biy about each artist and your reason for including them on the label?

Teus: Current roster list :

Konfidential - one of my best friends and he has a very high and focused work ethic. He was a natural fit with my vision and he has been doing amazing since he joined the team.

Jinx - started off as a client at my studio and through time I came to respect his work ethic and his business mind set. I added him to the team to help expand not just put music catalogue but having somebody help with running the company and expanding the business.

Switch - switchis one of the newest additions to the roster... just like everyone else he has been a client of mine for a couple of years and he defiantly sets the bar high when it comes to work ethic. We are just finishing his second album if the year and he just keeps coming back with more and more fire. Eager and hungry to make music he inspires my own motivation to make shit happen.

Alex Cruz - Cruz is my cousin and our musical journey started back in my homegrown days. Alex is an amazing emcee and a talented producer. Besides being family he brings a whole other type of flavor to the team and is a model for what it is to be a true independent artist.

Bhrama Blue - a man of many sounds. One if our only non hip hop artist on the team (all thow he can rap) Bhrama is a multi talented artist from guitar to engineering and production he sings and composes multiple different styles of music from rock to bluegrass to blues to reggae. Not only does he play a huge roll in the studio work but is a huge part of our team in many ways.

Seymour cheddar - if we were wutang cheddar would be our ODB. His aggressive but intelligent street style made him a perfect vibe with the kind of music we put out and also made him perfect to be our resident battle rapper.. Seymour also started off as a client befor being added to the team.

Teus - well not much to say to why I'm here... I can say that IG was created while I was getting my business degree in college. I used it as one of my final projects and once I was done school I just made it real.

Taylor Kate - Taylor is a new addition to the roster. She is an amazing artist who studied dance and music in newyork for a few years.. she brings so much to the table... Besides being beautiful and having a voice of an angel ... her mind set and intelligence has added some great creative inspiration into alot of future projects. Besides we needed a sister on the team to keep all us boys in line 🙂

Yuno Q - where do I start. Q is amazing. He was the first team member to join IG when I started. Just a young knucklehead getting in to trouble doing bad shit... but raw with pure talent. I gave him an oppertunity and now 6 years later he has grown into one of the best rappers I've worked with ( and I've done music with snoop dogg) not only is he an amazing rapper but his production is on point. Q adds a different flavour to the team that targets a younger more modern sound of hip hop. Don't be fooled thow by the singing and autotune.. .. this kid can rap circles around anybody that trys to call him out. Some artists dont wanna just be all about bars and punchlines some wanna make good music that people can enjoy.

BCUG: IG has been putting out a lot of content recently. Are there plans on expanding the company and the roster any further?

Teus: We are always working. My full time job is running the studio and we have almost and endless supply of content. Recently we have been approached by universal music /ingrooves and have been offered a distribution deal. With this deal going through we will actually have real record lable power and be able to offer artist distribution through the largest distributor in North America. With this happening we plan on recruiting a few more established acts to help pump up the roster. Recently have come across 2 very talented artists that I plan on bringing them on board. One of them is a male vocalist who also raps and is amazing and the other is a very talented female vocalist who's powerful voice and beauty is gonna blow people away.

EssKeh Music


Location: Surrey
Genre: Hip Hop, R&B
Monsta Mack
Crystal T.A.
Kause  (Japan)
D’Nell  (Washington DC)

The label was founded by Jeremy Morris aka Monsta Mack.

BCUG: Is Kulprit still on the label? I noticed he wasn't listed on the website.

Monsta Mack: Kulprit is my old partner. He isn’t on it anymore. He’s taking care of his family. 

BCUG: What year did the label start?

Monsta Mack: Started in 2017

 Wandering Worx

Location: Vancouver
Genre: Multiple
Jasiri X
Oh No
Prince Po
Rapper Big Pooh
Roc C
Moka Only 
Planet Asia 
General Monks
Fatty Down

"Combining the best of both worlds, Canada's Wandering Worx Entertainment is producing high quality music and films from some of the best up and coming artists in North America. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, founders Rodney Davidson and Hayden Baptiste aka Rel!g!on are expanding by the day, recruiting the top producers and musicians, while working with some renowned, impressive directors. By adding their budding music department in the early portion of 2010, Wandering Worx is ready to take their company to the next level in contemporary entertainment.

Started in 1999, the beginning pair created short films and television demos with director Andrew C. Erin, who worked on Hollywood films such as Confined, Simple Things, and Sam's Lake over the past few years. After a brief hiatus, they reunited in 2003 to win the Canwest Comedy Film Festival, using their success as a springboard to launch into developing their first feature film, Kick Me Down, a powerful drama starring David Richmond-Peck (V, and The Day the Earth Stood Still).

With a relentless work ethic, Wandering Worx is currently in production of a full length science fiction film, tentatively titled The 40 Year Deal, written by Nicholas Treeshin. The company also produced the video for Moka Only's "Lucid," which is currently in rotation on the Much Music network.

The young Wandering Worx Music branch appears anything but, immediately exploding onto the hip hop scene with fiery producer, Rel!g!on's debut record, Revelationz 1. Featuring incredible artists such as Planet Asia, Chuck D, Moka Only, Shyheim, and Theory, the record immediately received critical acclaim from outlets such as Rap Reviews and Exclaim Magazine.

Grammy winning producer Chin Injeti is yet another talented producer to team up with Wandering Worx, having previously crafted tracks for major names such as Kanye West, Drake, 50 Cent, and 2 tracks on Eminem’s new album “Recovery”.
Proving themselves to be a relevant, thought provoking force in the film industry, as well as a quality driven boutique music label, Wandering Worx Entertainment rightfully commands their share of attention."

 Owake Records


Location: Vancouver
Genre:Hip Hop
So Loki
Hood Joplin

Owned and operated by Sam Lucia and Geoffrey Millar (So Loki) Started 2015

We caught up with Sam for the details.

BCUG: You are the founder, correct? 

Sam Lucia: Yeah me and Geoff run Owake Records.

BCUG: Is Hood Joplin still on the label and are there any others?

Sam Lucia: Yeah Hood Joplin is on the roster and Chelsea Grimm was formerly on the roster.

BCUG: What year was it established?

Sam Lucia: 2015 if I remember correctly.   

 100 & King Records


Location: Surrey
Genre: Hip Hop
Junior Strong
Josh Scott

BCUG: Could you tell me a bit about how your label started and why?

Sideshow:  The label came together in summer of 2015, formed by Junior Srong (fka Doobie), Josh Scott and Myself.

BCUG: Who is currently on the roster? 

Sideshow: The roster currently consists of all the original members. Myself serving as in-house producer/engineer, owner, and official recording artist under the label, along with Josh Scott and Junior Strong both of which have a project available digitally online at hunnidkingrecords.com as as well as physically on the 100 & King online store (100-king-records.myshopify.com) My debut solo project is scheduled for a summer release.

BCUG: What do you have planned for Hunnid King in the near future?

Sideshow: Our goals for the future include doing lots of shows, working with as many local artists as possible and of course, continuing to flood the scene with more of that timeless hip hop we've been making for so many years.

 9Dz Kidz Recordz


Location: Vancouver
Genre: Hip Hop

BCUG:  Is it just you that owns the company? and what year was it established

Tee-O: We expanding a lot. Ya bro. Me. Um like 2 years.

BCUG: Are There any artists on the label other than yourself?

Tee-O: KeeHill, Brizzy, Zach obbagy is my videographer part of the label and comedian Wayne Alexis. We expanding alot.

Rain Gang Ent.

Location: Vancouver
Genre: Hip Hop
Miista Technique
Scotty Pimpin
Jake Tha Rapper

Managed by T Nelson & Miista Technique 

"Rain Gang Entertainments is a label that consists of artists/producers from different places in B.C Each and every arists has their own story to be told."

Don't miss our last installment of the series, Spotlight: Tastemakers

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