Over the last couple of years, British hip hop producers like Adam F, The Creators and The Nextmen have gained recognition across the Atlantic for their work with American rappers. Considering that the US market for rap music dwarfs its UK counterpart, you might think that in future British beat-makers would be better off attempting to crack the lucrative American market rather than concentrating solely on the UK hip hop scene. Two UK headz who are attempting just that are Midas and DJ Parris who moved from London to New York a few years ago and set up a new hip hop label called Team Music.
Twenty-two year old Midas grew up in Finsbury Park, North London. Parris, a year older than Midas, hails originally from Stoke Newington in East London and was Funky DL’s DJ earlier on in the rapper’s career and also performed regular mixes on Westwood’s Radio 1 Rap Show. The pair first met in the music studio of City and Islington College, where they were both students. “There used to be a DJ mixing class which basically ended up in being a big cypher,” Midas recalls. “We would bring in beats made at home on an Amiga 500 and showcase them to each other”. Amongst the budding local artists who participated in these studio sessions were DJ Fonti and Mighty Moe (now part of the garage act The Heartless Crew) and the rapper Versatile-E.
After finishing college, Midas began working for the Sony Street Team while Parris continued his DJing and started putting out mix tapes (and producing for DL). They soon formed a club promotion company together called Street Level Entertainment and began organising events around the capital. However, in October 1998, Midas decided to take a break from his work in the London music scene and flew out to New York on an extended holiday. Armed only with his demo and about $1,000 in cash, he found a cheap apartment near Corona in Queens and landed himself a job as a buyer for a record shop. What was initially a temporary position ended up becoming permanent and Midas chose to remain in the US. DJ Parris, who had been travelling back and forth across the Atlantic buying and selling vinyl 12”s, decided to join Midas in late 1999 and settled in Far Rockaway, Queens. He began working feverishly in club promotion and vinyl distribution in order to raise money to start his own record label, Team Music.
As its name suggest, Parris’ brainchild is based heavily on teamwork – Funky DL, Far Rockaway rapper Sekz and Parris’ wife Marylin are all very much involved in its operation. “Team Music is all about being hands on in every aspect of the business,” Parris explains. “We all chip in with the production, cover design, promotion, distribution everything.”
The label’s first release is the Funky DL-produced single “Too Many Girls” by Sekz, which also features a track produced by DJ Parris on the B-side. So far, the record has been very well received and gained airplay on Westwood’s Radio 1 Rap Show and London’s Choice FM. As a result, a follow-up single by Sekz is already in the pipeline; and Team Music is planning to further develop its name by releasing a 12” by AG (of Showbiz & AG) and distributing a record by the Puttin’ In Work Family in the near future. In addition, Midas is busy producing tracks for the East New York, Brooklyn rhymer Sonny Carson.
Being based in the US means that not only do Midas and Parris have a greater understanding of authentic hip-hop culture, but also that Team Music has better access to improved recording facilities and a large target market to aim at. “You’re not going to make a lot of money with rap in England even if you were number one [in the charts] and signed to a major [record label],” Midas says. “Out here, everyone is trying to make a million dollars!” The huge number of budding artists and producers on the hip hop paper-chase in America does mean, though, that competition is fierce. “It’s much harder to break into the industry over here than it is in London. Making contacts is easy enough, but learning how to talk their language is the tough part. You have to be very direct here and much more forward, to the point and aggressive.”
Three years in the making, Team Music in now established and ready to attack the market. Midas is optimistic about the label’s future and is confident that being foreigners, the music he and Parris create will offer US headz something new and fresh: “We hear hip hop with international ears and think that this is going to be what separates us from the rest.”
If things don’t work out with Team Music, there is of course the option of Midas and Parris returning to the UK for good. The two have talked about this possibility many times, but have never been able to say for certain whether they would ever make the permanent move back home. “I think we’re pretty screwed either way,” Midas concludes, “because when we’re in New York we miss London like crazy, but I’m sure it would probably be the other way
around if we moved back!”
Team Music are currently looking for producers and artists to add to their roster.
For more information contact Midas at: email@example.com,
or Parris at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Sekz @ www.mp3.com/sekz
Check out tracks Midas produced for Sonny Carson at:
and Puttin’ In Work at: http://pnwent.dmusic.com/