Interview and story by Matthew Shack
Have you heard of them? These are some of the greatest names in Hip Hop.
Have you heard of them? These are some of the greatest names in music, period.
What do they have in common? A great record label that introduced them to the masses.
Motown and Swishahouse, repectfully.
Swishahouse, out of Houston Texas is not only "The Jewel Of The South...they are the "Motown of the South".
Founded by DJ Michael "5000" Watts in the latter ‘90’s,Swishahouse went from successfully hurling mixtapes on the streets of Houston’s Northside, to the executive suites of Warner Bros/Asylum Records and national distribution.
The moniker, "Swishahouse" came from Watts naming his slowed down mixes, "Swisha Mixes" to separate them from "screw mixes" by the legendary and late, DJ Screw.
Known by the axiom "Major Without A Major Deal", all of that changed when Mike Jones became Swishahouse’s first recording artist to release a major label album in 2005 with "Who Is Mike Jones?" His album debuted at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album charts in 2005, peaking at #1.
Swishahouse's second mult-platinum success came from Paul Wall's major label debut, "The People's Champ", also released in '05.
Michael Watts is also a major player in screwed and chopped music with him remixing southern classics, Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz' "Crunk Juice", Slim Thug's "Already Platinum",Dem Franchize Boyz's "On Top Of Our Game", and Lil' Wayne's "Tha Carter II".
Taking time out of the daily grind, The Flow's own Matthew Shack, chops and screws it up with the BIG BALLERS of Swishahouse:
Michael Clarke- Sr. VP Of Marketing & Promotions.
T. Farris- Pres. A&R.
G Dash- CEO
Michael "5000" Watts- Founder.
TFM: As Senior VP of Marketing of Swishahouse, what is the marketing strategy and approach that you use to position the Swishahouse brand?
MClarke: Typically what’s happened is Michael Watts will make some mix CD’s. That puts us real in-touch with the streets and it gives us some instant feedback on what people think about an artist. Once we have an artist who begins to build a buzz on the street, then T. Farris takes over and he gets them in the studio, produces that first single and so far, from there it’s a trip to radio and video. It’s a real, real simple formula. We take a DJ, we let him break the artist, T.Farris comes out with a hot single and we just move on from there.
TFM: As President of A&R the company, primarily your background has come from having your 'ear to the street', pushing the mix tapes, getting the artists known out there. How does all that street work and credibility give you an advantage over the traditional A&R cat sitting behind a desk?
TFarris: It makes a big difference. I know if its hype or if it’s raw talent, because I’m out here. Mostly [A&R’s] are behind a desk so [they] just hear about it. See, they may just call down to Houston and call the record store to hear ” Such-n- such, he's REAL hot, he’s this, he’s that.” But I get it first hand, and I can actually go and see what’s going on with him listen to him sit down with him and kind of check what the streets is feeling for him. It gives me a bigger edge over everybody else. They’re still in sitting behind a desk in New York or L.A. or something.
TFM: At the time when the Houston market was underrepresented in Hip Hop As a black entrepreneur how does it feel to own what is considered to be one of the hottest labels in the game?
MWatts: It feels really good, man. To know that we came from doing the mix tapes and stuff like that and have all of that come together. It feels real good to be accredited to be one of the biggest southern labels they have down here, you know? It feels real good!
TFM: As CEO you have many responsibilities in keeping the business between yourself and the various artists, the label and the paperwork it all entails. How do you get around all that while maintaining a family-type atmosphere at Swishahouse?
GDash: First of all I’ve got a great team. I’ve got guys in place that I can trust and count on and come through with tasks that need to be performed. By everybody giving 100% and we are like family. We’re like brothers. That makes it real easy for me.
TFM: Is there anything that you want the buying public to know about Swishahouse that they may not know already?
MWatts: One of the things that we want the public to know is that everybody can feel free to reach out to us directly. You guys don’t have to go directly though Warner Bros. You guys can contact us directly and we’ll be more than happy to work with you.
GDash: Put a number out there for ‘em.
MWatts: You can call Mike Clarke at 281-330-0682281-330-0682 FREE. If you want to do work, you can contact us directly, you know?
((( Audio Interview Below )))