TABLE OF CONTENTS
Guide to the SwishaHouse record label collection, 2000-2010 MS 607
SwishaHouse is a Houston, Texas-based independent southern rap record label.
“Major with out a major deal!” That was and still remains the core of independently operated record label SwishaHouse’s mission statement. Swishahouse was founded in north Houston in the late 1990’s by Michael 5000 Watts and OG Ron C as a response to the popularity of chopped and screwed music from houston’s south side. The label began by distributing mixtape series such as before da kappa,after da kappa,choppin em up,and fuck action (which featured chopped and screwed versions of r&b music). 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 ” 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 vision of 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,G Dash says, 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 Asylum/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 Asylum/Warner Brothers while grill-constructing rapper Paul Wall’s The People’s Champ was released via Asylum/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.
In 2008, SwishaHouse began to use their notoriety to embark on a new mission while further expanding the brand. “As we began to see the impact SwishaHouse made on the community, it was important that we begin to make an impact in the community,” Dash says. “By partnering with CCM Foundation to raise awareness on HIV within African-American and Latino communities we felt like we could reach those in the community that have been affected by an epidemic that has plagued many Houstonians.” So, in 2009, SwishaHouse and CCM Foundation began an aggressive HIV/STD social marketing campaign and sponsored community health and wellness events throughout Houston through a collaboration with the Houston Syphilis Elimination Advisory Council. The partnership has garnered attention locally and statewide and received awards from the collegiate level.
Photographs, promotional cards, posters, published interviews and music of Swisha House artists such as Paul Wall, Lil Mario, SLim Thug, Coota Bang, Michael 5000 Watts, Big Tyme, Lester Roy, Sabwarfare, Archie Lee, J Dawg and many others. Music is on audiocassette, LP album, and CD. Additionally, this collection features a large framed platinum record presented to CERCL to commemorate the sale 1 million copies of Paul Wall's The Peoples Champ album. (1 box plus framed platinum record)
Conditions Governing Access note
This material is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use note
Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center.
This material was donated to Rice University through the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL) in 2012.