Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dreamchaser: The Soulife Record Files

I started my journey on a quest to become a successful music producer in the mid 90’s.  I packed my car up and headed north from Charlotte, N.C. to Haverstraw, N.Y. where I stayed with my father for a couple of months.  I eventually got a studio apartment at 1 East 213th and Jerome Ave., Bronx N.Y.  Here I ran the streets with my peoples, which was also from North Carolina (Ryan Young-Ry Starr, Ricky Elliot-Dolo, Derrick Kirkland-D.K.).  We ran up in different studios in Manhattan with beat tapes trying to get on.  One week Mark Sparks (Platinum Producer -Salt n Pepa, Grand Puba, Mary Blige, Special Ed, Brownstone, etc.) had a studio in Manhattan rented out.  We all went to hang out with Sparks.  Here I also met Slim the Mobster who is now an artist/writer for Aftermath Records and nephew of the producer Chocolate who wrote and produced “Ice, Ice, Baby” for Vanilla Ice.  Also the rapper Nine (who had the single “Whutcha Want”) was there.  Several months afterwards D.K., his girlfriend, and Dolo packed up the car and drove cross country to L.A. to meet Sparks.  Rystarr and I continued to run the streets of the Big Apple until I eventually relocated to Atlanta, Ga. and started working with Verizon Wireless.  One day I had a conversation with Darryl Foster-Davidson, who was also in L.A. with Mark Sparks and he said I should come out there.  I had some vacation time coming up, so I did just that.  I went out there in March on my birthday weekend to see what Los Angeles was all about. 
                Mark Spark had formed Soulife Records with Sunshine Anderson, Anthony Hamilton, and Deep South being the main acts.  This was my first visit to L.A. and I was super amped.  As I rode down Sunset Blvd. in route to Beverly Hills, I was amazed by all the palm trees, hills, and freeways.  As we pulled up in the driveway and I walked up the staircase I was immediately greeted by everyone.  They all were around the pool doing a photo shoot for a European magazine.  Mike Meyers (Austin Powers) lived directly across the street, Drew Barrymore lived to the left, and Halle Berry lived around the corner.  When it was time for me to go back to Atlanta, Mark Sparks asked me when I was coming back.  I quickly told him very soon.  I went back and handed in my resignation to Verizon Wireless.  About a month later I was back in Beverly Hills 90210.
                I went from having my own apartment in Atlanta, to sleeping on the floor in Beverly Hills.  It was a fair trade if you ask me.  I had to quickly adapt to the West Coast way of living.  I immediately threw away my all red shirt I use to rock.  I was surrounded by so many different talented individuals all living in one house and also those affiliated with the label who didn’t live at the main house.  I had about $2,500 dollars in the bank with one more check on the way when I arrived in California.  With all the partying, girls, and more partying, that money quickly faded away quick.  Living in the house with a bunch of different egos was challenging at times.  A couple of fights and arguments here and there, but everybody pretty much had each other’s back.  I was thankful and blessed to be a part of such a great movement with so much potential.  Living on the hill without any income coming in was definitely hard at times, but as a group we always had food to eat because of the grocery stipend from the record label.  Soulife was starting to buzz in the streets and that was mainly because Mark Sparks had that charisma that just attracted talented people.  Sparks once sent me to the store with $300 dollars for one pack of backwoods (cigars) and told me to keep the change.  That was the type of person he was.   Once Sunshines single “Heard It All Before” dropped (written and produced by Mike City), things began to quickly change.  I remember Canibus stayed at our crib for like a week.  His peoples from Queens named Pac Man was there also.  We worked on his album where he was still going at L.L. Cool J.  Soulife soon landed distribution through Atlantic Records and the future looked very bright.  Eventually we began receiving our monthly per diem, so now it was time to hit the stores and get fresh.   As we approached Christmas, the label started preparing for Sunshine’s April release of her debut album with the mixing and mastering process. 
                Once Sunshine finally dropped she murdered the airwaves.  Alicia Keyes, and Olivia dropped around the same time, but were no match for Sunshine’s energy.  Everyone from Jadakiss, to La La Vasquez was making remixes to Heard It All Before.  Everyone wanted to be around us and be a part of the Soulife family.  I was soaking up game and constantly meeting different artist and people in the business.  I met Shyheim the Rugged Child from Wu-Tang where I produced a song for him off of the Wu-Chronicles II Razor Sharp/Priority release.  I met Prodigal Sun from Sunz of Man also a Wu-Tang affiliate where I later produced their title track Saviour’s Day featuring Ghostface.  I worked with Cannabis, Planet Asia, Phil da Agony, Black n Wild, The Horsemen (Cannabis, Kurupt, Killah Priest, Ras Kass, Bushwick Bill, Mystic, etc.).  I also had a chance to work with Fred Williamson on the soundtrack for his movie “On the Edge” where I produced "Pressure" featuring Mic Moless aka Science from Trenton, N.J..  I also had a cameo in the beginning of the movie courtesy of Shyheim  who was one of the main characters in the movie.  Anthony Hamilton was due to release his album immediately after Sunshine.
                It’s now May and we are prepared to travel to Miami for Memorial Weekend.  It was like the club on the plane, only at 35,000 feet.  We arrive in Miami and stay at the same mansion Lawrence Taylor owned in the movie “Any Given Sunday” for like a week.  We had a ball, and we capped it off with a yacht party which was bananas.  I remember sitting in the restaurant with the Soulife crew and meeting Tony Gotti, John Gotti’s nephew.  He sent us a bottle of Cristal over and walked us through the kitchen to the alley to his limo.  He took us to the hottest club in South Beach  and despite being a line wrapped around the corner, he walked us directly to the front and got us in immediately, Boss Status.  Once we returned to L.A. was around the time that Soulife Records ended.  I remember being in my bed sleep and hearing a loud knock on door.  It was Science, he was like turn on the television.  It's super early so I'm looking at him like he was bugging.  I said for what, and he was like they just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.  I immediately replied, "stop lying."  I turned on the television and was like damn.  That was a sad and crazy morning.  About a couple of weeks later two 15 passenger vans were rented and we packed them up and started the long cross country journey back to North Carolina.  We returned to Charlotte and posted up at Baron Davis house for about a month.  At this time he was playing with the Charlotte Hornets.  I still have the Glen Rice jersey he gave me one day we went to practice with him.  After being back in North Carolina for a couple of days it finally set in.  Soulife Records was over!    
                Although the life of Soulife Records was short lived, I met a lot of great people, musicians, singers, and rappers.  I learned alot doing that 2 year period about life and the music business.  I guess the moral of this story is to never be afraid to follow your dreams because you will never know where it will take you next.  If you never take chances you will be haunted with “what if’s” and regrets for the rest of your life.  This is just one of my personal stories of my quest to fulfill my dreams.  Dreams do come true, but you cannot be afraid to go out and pursue them.  There were alot of talented individuals associated with Soulife Records.  For everyone who was a part of that crew whether directly or indirectly, I salute you.  I will leave you with Soulife Records first release, Sunshine Anderson "Heard It All Before".  Peep my cameo walking in the house with the jersey on.  Gone!! 

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