The transition from provincial celebrity DJ to renowned record label founder has been rewarding in more ways than one for Houston, Texas native Michael “5000” Watts. Known primarily for his chopped and screwed Swisha House remixes, Watts has successfully turned regional mix tape distribution into a record label empire. However, Watts did not get to VIP status overnight. A mountain of diligence and unsurpassed talent catapulted this music icon in the making to mogul standing.
2005 brought about a national notoriety for Michael “5000” Watts. His company, Swisha House, celebrated with the chart topping victories of Houston hip-hop rookies turned luminaries Paul Wall (The People’s Champ, 2005) and Mike Jones (Who Is Mike Jones, 2005) as well as a number of highly acclaimed independent releases featuring a gifted mass of up and coming artists including the unforgettable The Day Hell Broke Loose: Parts 1 & 2 (1999, 2003).
“Over the pas five years we worked hard on developing our fan base by releasing a steady stream of independent releases,” says the award winning founder and DJ. “When we signed our deal with Warner Music Group through Asylum , it was that foundation that allowed achieve the levels of success we enjoyed last year with Warner Bros and Atlantic Records.” In an unprecedented power move, Watts secured venture partnerships with the aforementioned major record labels for Mike Jones and Paul Wall respectively. Despite having the push of key companies behind him, the accomplishments of Swisha House have been its ability to continue to function as a major label while still considered an independent. “It’s an experience,” Watts admits. “We’re learning a lot right now, a lot of positive things.”
An unpretentious executive, Watts attributes the expansion of Swisha House to having a tight team. “T Farris (President, A&R) discovered Mike Jones. I had met him (Jones) before and I heard his stuff play in the club but T actually took the initiative to sign him.” Meanwhile, Paul Wall, who previously worked at the Swisha House as a promoter, had maintained a friendship with Watts and co-CEO G Dash from the early days. “He was rapping back then and we used to let him rap in the club. He did some freestyles for our mix tapes and we’ve been cool ever since,” says Watts.
Clearly Watts’ foresight to recruit the best players in the industry has helped to curry favor among fans with hit records like Jones’ “Still Tippin’,” “Back Then,” Wall’s “Sittin’ Sideways” and countless guest appearances by the Swisha House affiliates Slim Thug, Archie Lee and Big Tiger. But it is Watts’ forte as a DJ that set the momentum for Swisha House as a record label.
“I started making mix tapes for my friends in school to get lunch money. That’s where I started to get my reputation,” says the humble Houstonian about his teenage years. As a youthful spin doctor, Watts tried his hand at various gigs before settling for his natural skill. “I was listening to one of my mix tapes and I thought there are a lot of people living off this in the music industry and it isn’t even as good as mine,” Watts remembers. “I was on a lunch break at the time and I never returned to the job. I said I’m going to make the music thing work.”
Watts instantly took control of his own market, Houston, and then proceeded to conquer the entire Lone Star state. He quickly moved on to become a household name on the streets of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Next he spread his signature sound – the Swisha House remix – to Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. The rest of the nation has officially adopted the sound of a genre in itself, chopped and screwed music. Also to his accomplishments, Watts adds being the first DJ to have a screwed and chopped major label CD when he remixed Eightball & MJG’s Space Age 4 Eva in 2001. He followed this feat with the release of David Banner’s Mississippi: The Album. “I got Michael Watts for the chopped and screwed album because I am a fan of his work,” proclaims David Banner. “He is the number one DJ for chopped and screwed and he’s part of the reason that a person can not only buy a chopped and screwed album in Houston, but in Germany. It’s that big and he’s that big.”
In addition to overseeing Swisha House, Watts continues to work as a DJ with shows on a plethora of radio stations throughout the nation further promoting his Swisha House remix brand. “I have a mix show that I’m doing on KBXX 97.9 The Box in Houston, Tx. every Sunday 9:00pm-11:00pm and we do straight Swisha House mixes, screwed and chopped. I’m dedicated to doing those shows every week. I try to make sure I stay in the streets and in touch with what’s going on.”
As an ambassador of Houston hip-hop, Swisha House branded chopped and screwed remixes and the south’s clout in the music industry, Watts is a featured guest on the BET It’s My Thing television campaign. Alongside other prominent entertainment movers and shakers, Watts’ spots appeared periodically and repetitively throughout the day highlighting his distinguished success as Swisha House CEO, founder and DJ.
Now he’s starting a new venture in his career by teaming up with Tx electronic music master Badbowy BMC Trill Step. Trill Step is a southern version of Dub Step created by Badbowy BMC. The first mix Return 2 Trill Step is available on line now.