Swishahouse: Take ’em to the House

Between the success of Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Slim Thug, Swishahouse Records was a proud father of artists in 2005.. However, as Chamillionaire and Slim Thug fared well without the label at times, Mike Jones has also recently been declaring his own independence.

Michael “5000” Watts and G-Dash say otherwise, and responded to comments that Jones made last week. These Houston hard-hitters are the CEOs of Swishahouse. It is Watts’ remixes that largely popularized the recent spread of the Chopped & Screwed movement that DJ Screw pioneered. The Swishahouse sound is set to carry in 2006, with Paul Wall’s recording underway of Get Money – Stay True, and Screwed-Up Click alum, Lil’ Keke’s next effort. The second is a historic H-Town moment in terms of past cross-town tension.

In addition to strengthening their city and clarifying allegations, Michael Watts and G-Dash reflect on the next class of Swishahouse artists that will be pressured by the masses to fill some impressive shoes. On the verge of a new compilation, The Day Hell Broke Loose 3, time will tell if the Swishahouse will be Houston’s new home.

AllHipHop.com: Mike Jones made some comments on our site last week regarding Swishahouse. He said that “foul business” had gone down. How do you respond to that?

G-Dash: First of all, that’s not true. Second of all, he’s still contractually obligated to [Swishahouse]. There hasn’t been no separation, and we still have agreements in place that we’re gonna continue to enforce those agreements.

AllHipHop.com: You said, “that’s not true.” What can you tell me to affirm that to our readers and those that feel otherwise?

G-Dash: Like I said, we have contracts and agreements in place. That definitely lets you know that’s not true.

AllHipHop.com: When was the last time Mike Jones communicated with y’all?

G-Dash: It’s been probably about…how long has it been since I spoke to Mike Jones? I guess that would be the last function I seen him at. I can’t recall what function – probably about a month ago.

AllHipHop.com: He may’ve said it was The Source’s photo-shoot for “A Great Day in Houston.”

G-Dash: Okay. Yeah.

AllHipHop.com: He mentioned it being an amicable difference. In a city like Houston, a tighter knit, close-quartered Hip-Hop community, how important is it to keep peace and friendship in general?

G-Dash: A lot of times, meetings just come together for us to sit down and settle things amongst themselves, you know what I’m sayin’? [You can’t] just let it go on and on with all the b*tchin’ and stuff, which could easily end up to other things. It’s better to just sit down, ‘cause this really is a business. At the end of the day, if the business isn’t handled right, nobody’s gonna be makin’ money. If Mike Jones don’t make no record, nobody benefits from it, even him.

AllHipHop.com: With or without Mike Jones, what’s the Swishahouse movement gonna like in 2006?

G-Dash: It’s lookin’ real good. We got a new compilation, The Day Hell Broke Loose 3 comin’ out. We also got other artists, such as Archie Lee, Coota Bang, and then T. Farris – he’s launching his record label, and we’re supporting him 100% by licensing our logos to his record label brand. We’re assisting him in bringing out artists like Lil’ Keke, which I’m sure everybody’s known. He’s had a great deal of Southern success in the past.<

AllHipHop.com: Now let’s talk about some of these artists. A lot of people came to know Swishahouse through the Houston explosion last years. Others were in the know years ago. But as Paul Wall and Mike Jones blew up, why has Archie Lee sat for two years? Why’s 2006 better than 2005?

G-Dash: Well, Archie’s back in the redevelopment stages. He was with us for a time, and then there was a time when he wasn’t with us, when we was rebuildin’ with Mike Jones and them. So Archie, he came back in, and we redevelopin’ him and Coota Bang.

AllHipHop.com: Other labels have historically had that “come and go as you please” relationship with artists. Both Death Row with Kurupt and Cash Money with Juvenile come to mind. As a business, why are you both comfortable with that?

G-Dash: I think they go somewhere else to test the waters, then come to realize that they really had it better than what they thought. They see the success we’re havin’. Also, you have no complaints – you can talk to any of our artists, there’s never been no complaints over money issues or things of that nature.

AllHipHop.com: Mike Jones said money was not a factor. Other articles elsewhere alluded to money disputes.

G-Dash: If you read articles, like you said, one article said there was a money dispute and now [your] article says it’s not a money dispute. There’s a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions, so you never know what’s true. Mike Jones is an artist, so he’s very artistic, and has a creative way of puttin’ things together – I guess his own thoughts and ideas. I mean, he’s an artist.

AllHipHop.com: In the history of Swishahouse, was there one significant reason why you blew? Was there a catalyst as to why, last year, everybody was in the know?

G-Dash: I think it’s just been a long period of grindin’ through the years. I’m sure people had heard about us in the past. But every year, we just been takin’ up another level. I think what finally cracked everything off was the “Still Tippin’” video that we had on our The Day Hell Broke Loose 2 compilation. I think that set the tone for the visuals that exposed our whole culture – the slowed down music, the candy-paint, the cars. I think people gravitate to somethin’ that’s new. I don’t think they gravitate to somethin’ they already gettin’. I think we came with something that was new and creative to the rest of the world – I think that’s what made everything jump off.

AllHipHop.com: That’s a good point. That said, will the focus move from candy-paint and grills to new directions?

Michael “5000” Watts: You know what man, I think all artists are growin’ beyond the candy-paint, the syrup, the rims, and stuff like that. A lot of the stuff on Paul’s record, that’s not the main focus. If you hear Keke’s record, that’s not what the album’s about. Of course we gonna keep our Houston thing. But our artists are goin’ farther than just that.

AllHipHop.com: Mike Jones, Paul Wall, even Chamillionaire – these guys had very friendly images. Looking at the tough exteriors of New York and West Coast rappers, I think that had tremendous crossover appeal. I know there’s real talk on those records too, but it’s less ego at times…

G-Dash: It’s different in them streets though.

AllHipHop.com: I’m quite sure. Mike, you recently did a Chopped & Screwed version of Dem Franchise Boyz album. Will there ever come a time when we see you come to New York artists? Where’s the Mobb Deep or Papoose Chopped & Screwed?

Michael “5000” Watts: Of course, man. My door’s always open as far as expanding stuff. Recently, I did two songs for Matisyahu. On my own, personally, I do a lot of Rock and stuff too. I’m very unlimited. Like, my radio shows, I don’t just do Southern stuff. I do East, I do West. I even do two hours of R&B, Chopped & Screwed. Whenever they wanna step up to the plate on what they want to do, I’ll do it.

AllHipHop.com: The Chopped & Screwed movement, as we all know, came from DJ Screw on the Southside of Houston. Swishahouse is about the Northside. When you started doing what you’re doing, was there animosity or resistance?

Michael “5000” Watts: Yeah, when we first started doin’ it. When I started, my mix CDs represented the Northside. There was a lil’ tension. But there was a lot of tension between the North and Side [sides of Houston] goin’ on before we even got into the music thing. A street tension, that carried into the music. Of course, all that is resolved now, ‘cause we all work together.

AllHipHop.com: What resolved it?

Michael “5000” Watts: What it boils down to man, we gotta feed our families. The only way we can all be successful is if we all work together. If you go out there and bump your head a couple times, we all realize, “Man, we’ll get a lot farther working together.” If you sit up there and look at the reasons that we’re successful, a lot of the guys are workin’ together.

G-Dash: I think the [gangsters], as they got older, they got wiser. All that s**t wasn’t gettin’ them nowhere or no money. Let’s get this money.

AllHipHop.com: Lil’ Keke started with Screw. To have him riding with Swishahouse now is a big deal. What does that mean to Houston?

G-Dash: I think it’s real big. At the same time, it’s gonna help unease all that tension. He’s like the Don over there. He was with the originators. That slang. That whole style was originated by Keke and Fat Pat.

AllHipHop.com: Does the parts of the city have different sounding music today?

Michael “5000” Watts: I think, right now, we have a culture as a whole. We have a Houston sound as a whole. When it comes down to styles, it’s not about North and Side [sides], it’s between artists within themselves. There’s different Southside artists that sound different from Keke and different Northside artists that sound different from Slim Thug. Slim Thug and Chamillionaire are both Northside artists with two totally different styles. [Same with] Trae and Keke.

AllHipHop.com: Mike, there’s an artist out of Philadelphia named Mike Watts. He messes with Screw music a bit too. Have you heard any feed on this guy?

Michael “5000” Watts: I’ve never heard any of his music. I’ve heard from other sources that it sucks. It’s like, I heard of him before he popped. But the thing about it, I know his lawyer that was representin’ him, right? He told me ‘bout this guy named Mike Watts that was gonna come out, right? He was making it like it was a coincidence that we both had the same name. Okay, this guy is from Philly and all that stuff. A lot of people in Philly aren’t doing Screwed & Chopped that I know of. So him havin’ the same name is tryin’ to plagiarize off of the success that we had with “Michael Watts and the Swishahouse.” He recently dropped a single and had an uncleared verse from Paul Wall on it. I look at this as plagiarism. You’re tryin’ to capitalize off of what we’re doing. If you’re gonna go that far to get a bootleg verse from Paul and market it as a commercial release, come on man!

AllHipHop.com: The feature has been what’s kept the streets hungry for Archie Lee and other artists you’re redeveloping. In a community like Houston, do you feel that enough attention is paid to linking the new popular acts with veterans like K-Rino, Willie D, and Lil’ Troy?

Michael “5000” Watts: Of course, you gotta respect the people that opened the doors for you. If it wasn’t for people like Rap-A-Lot and K-Rino,… they were the ones who got Houston to the point where it is right now. A lot of people gotta respect that and recognize that.

AllHipHop.com: Lastly, Paul Wall is newly a proud father. What’d the label do for its artist?

G-Dash: Oh yeah, plenty. We gave him a congratulations and a cigar.

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