Swisha House Execs Talk Up New Mike Jones and Paul Wall Music
Within the last year the independent label, started ten years ago by mixtape DJ Michael "5000" Watts, has grown an audience far beyond its Texas stronghold, gaining national recognition with Jones' Who is Mike Jones? and Wall's The People's Champ. Although Swisha House has been around since 1996, in the last year video and radio has been dominated by the likes of Jones and Wall as well as early Swisha House signees Slim Thug and Chamillionaire.
Swisha House execs Watts and Co-CEO G. Dash along with label president and A&R T. Farris and VP of Marketing and Promotions Michael Clarke recently granted SOHH an exclusive interview to talk about the year ahead.
"Mike Jones has his album coming out, The American Dream; Paul's album Ain't No 401K for a Hustla is coming out," Dash told SOHH. "We have our annual compilation The Day Hell Broke Loose 3 coming out as well as Coota Bang's album Big Bang Theory and Archie Lee's album Hollyhood.
"We haven't changed our style," Watts added. "Everything we're doing today is the same stuff we were doing yesterday. Same southern style and Texas heart, same producers we just took stuff up on a higher level."
The label will also have a hand in the release of Lil Keke, an original member of DJ Screw's Screwed Up Click, who has signed to Farris' new label, TF Records.
One of Houston's most noted freestyle MCs, Keke's album, Loved By Few, Hated By Many, will be released this fall. While there have been murmurings of conflict over Keke leaving his Southside roots to sign with the Northside label, Farris assured SOHH the move is simply a case of common sense.
"The conflict is everybody knows what's about to go on," Farris said. "Everything I've touched, I've brought home a plaque. He [Keke] ain't crazy. He knows what's going on. He sees what we did with the projects I was involved in."
Farris is credited for signing both Jones and Wall as well as pairing the two on the beat that would become "Still Tippin." While Farris maintains his position at Swisha House, he's continuing his own entrepreneurial ventures by starting TF Records. He also manages Wall and co-owns the Houston after hours spot Club Blue.
"I still wanted to be deeply involved in Swisha House," Farris told SOHH about the new label. "Watts and Dash, they supported me 110 percent so I don't feel like I'm jumping out there doing what I'm doing. I can always call them up and ask them any questions."
Swisha House has plans to release a third volume of the classic compilation series The Day Hell Broke Loose 3 this August. While a lead single has yet to be determined, leading contenders appear to be "Gangsta" which uses a Scarface rhyme as the hook and features Lil Keke, Coota Bang and Scarface, and Lil Keke and Paul Wall's "So Fly" which explores their love of fine automobiles.
"T. Farris makes music the way it makes sense," Clarke told SOHH of the Swisha House method of assembling Houston talent on records. "When Paul Wall did the song 'Sittin Sideways' that phrase came from an old Big Pokey freestyle on a DJ Screw mixtape, so it only made sense to bring him on.
"[UGK's] Pimp C is still a relevant artist, so if we think he will sound great on the third verse of something it only makes sense to put them together," he adds. "We grew up with these artists and Michael Watts has been a fixture for a while, so for us it's like who is the most talented to make this come through."
In addition to Watts' accomplishments with Swisha House, he is also the first DJ credited for chopping and screwing a major label CD. Some of his chopped and screwed remixes include 8Ball & MJG's Space Age 4 Eva and David Banner's Mississippi: The Album.
He's also currently hosting several radio mixshows, including his spot on Houston radio station 97.9 The Box where he offers up Swisha House screwed and chopped mixes every week.
"Besides our labels remixes, next I'm chopping and screwing Dem Franchize Boyz, [Lil Wayne's] Da Carter 2, Matisyahu, the Lil Keke album and The Day Hell Broke Loose 3," Watts told SOHH.
With all of Swisha House's accomplishments, Clarke was quick to point out the label's do-it-yourself approach.
"We are very much a self-contained unit," he said. "When you look at Swisha House you are looking at the hard work we put into the label. We shoot our own videos, make our own posters, do our own marketing. You have to put in the grind, put in the work so you can develop your same team and have a chance of really making it. You have to be in the grind 24/7 making it happen for yourself."