SWISHA HOUSE | SWISHA BLAST
“Major with out a major deal!” That was and still remains the core of independently operated record label SwishaHouse mission statement. Birthed in 19th in the home of Houston’s native son DJ Michael “5000” Watts, SwishaHouse initially started as the studio of the popular hip-hop DJ. “When I started slowing my mixes down, instead of calling them screw mixes, I called them Swisha mixes. So I called my studio the SwishaHouse,” Watts says of how he developed the name of his company.
As Watts’ mix tapes garnered more and more recognition, single handedly imparting the Swisha brand and the chopped and screwed genre to a national audience, his business began to expand. “It got to the point where I needed a business partner, someone I could trust, and I knew G Dash was a good business person,” says Watts. He partnered with long time friend and former rap artist G Dash who initially helped by distributing the mix tapes to various retailers and road managing early SwishaHouse acts Slim Thug,Lil Mario,J-Dawg,Big Tiger,Big Pic,Lester Roy and Archie Lee. “When Watts and I became partners we both started investing our money in the company,” reveals Dash. As co-CEO’s, Watts and Dash financially and physically built a foundation that would soon triumphantly market and promote the debut CDs of Mike Jones and Paul Wall. But not without hard work and meticulousness, would they take the company to the next level.
After the increase in popularity of the mix tapes, Watts was presented with an opportunity to release his CDs on a larger scale. “We ended up getting a deal with Southwest Wholesale and then Asylum Records,” Watts explains. “They said if I put out an album they would fund it for me.” In 1999, SwishaHouse had their first official release, The Day All Hell Broke Loose Part One, a compilation CD which featured Slim Thug, Archie Lee, Big Tiger, Lil’ Mario and Paul Wall. This CD set the pace for the growth of SwishaHouse. With a distribution deal from Southwest Wholesale and a pending venture with Asylum Records, greater prospects were on the horizon.
As an independent label, SwishaHouse, with the A&R expertise of President T Farris constructed the hit record “Still Tippin’.” Farris tracked down the instrumental and solicited Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall to rhyme on the song. The single took off and SwishaHouse, unaided, invested in a video which would exhibit a unique visual of Houston hip-hop and culture highlighting the slowed down music, kitted cars, voluptuous women, diamond encrusted grills and southern landscape. Without a major label deal, SwishaHouse acquired numerous spins on major music networks MTV and BET. As well, heavy radio rotation ensued. Radio play is not easy to get as an independent, we function as a major record label with radio and retail taken care of by our staff as well as our partners. The reason why many independent labels don’t have the success we have had at radio and retail is because they haven’t established those relationships or contacts.” SwishaHouse’s way of handling business has always kept the bigger scope in mind.
By 2004, SwishaHouse was approached by both Warner Brothers and Atlantic Records about the possibility of working together. Because SwishaHouse made such a substantial dent in the music industry, it was no wonder that the majors had been steadily eyeing them. Within a few meetings, both parties signed an agreement and soon after self-branding genius Mike Jones released Who Is Mike Jones? on Warner Brothers while grill-constructing rapper Paul Wall’s The People’s Champ was released via Atlantic Records. Both SwishaHouse artists contributed successful singles – “Still Tippin’,” “Back Then,” and “Sittin’ Sideways” to 2005’s Billboard Charts.
In addition to being a universally recognized independent hip-hop dwelling, SwishaHouse has received a number of awards including Indie Label of The Year Award at both the Global Mixshow Awards and the Dirty Awards.
Even with big deals with major labels helping their vision come to fruition, SwishaHouse still operates as an independent entity. Dash says, “We have a proven track record. I’ve always said that no matter how big we get, we’re going to continue to treat this as if we didn’t have a deal.” And that is key in SwishaHouse’s ability to continue to provide the world with the finest music hip-hop has to offer.