Its a known fact the music industry is a tough business to survive in. Artists getting jerked by their label or extorted on the streets, radio payola, fickle fans; the list goes on and on. Even the Notorious B.I.G. had lawyers watching lawyers so he didnt go broke. Now add the ever increasing popularity of illegal downloads to an already sour mix and you get a spicy recipe for disaster. You can look no further to the story of TVT Records as proof. Recently the record label would file for bankruptcy and send their employees to the unemployment line in one fell swoop.
Founded in 1985, Tee Vee Toons originally started off as a boutique operation only releasing compilations of popular television show themes. They eventually grew and started to sign acts from different genres; Rap was one of them. Those pesky Crunk Hits titles aside, TVT would go on to drop several some big albums for us. As a dedication to the fallen record label, we give you a rundown of their key catalog titles. Maybe youll see something here that peaks your interest and youll help them pay a bill or two.
TVT formed Blunt Records and got a baby faced Irving Lorenzo to be the A&R. DJ Irv wasted no time and signed Mic Geronimo. Mic G. wasnt as scientifically gifted as a Nas with the lyrics, but the young boy had flows for days. You had joints like the gritty Sh*ts Real and Masta I.C. on there. This debut also featured Ja Rule, DMX and Jay-Z all rocking together with Mic on Its Time To Build. A truly slept on gem, this represented that early 90s army jacket and Timberland season in New York Rap.
[Masta I.C.” featuring Royal Flush Video]
Cash Money Click
Get Tha Fortune
Gotti kept the money in Queens when he brought Cash Money Click over to the label. Compromised of 0-1, Chris Black and a then unknown Ja Rule, CMC would garner a thick buzz on the streets with this introductory single. An official album from the trio would never materialize as Black got booked and hit with five calendars. Everything happens for a reason though. This joint would be the catalyst to Murder Inc.s future success as Lyor Cohen would want to sign Ja to Def Jam Records based off this lively performance alone.
[Get Tha Fortune Video]
Geronimos main man got put on too. Royal Flush was on some hardcore street ish though. Tracks like Moving On Your Weak Production and Iced Out Medallions still bang to this day jack. You had Da Beatminerz, Buckwild, L.E.S., and Hi-Tek behind the boards on this one too. But just like everything on this label at that time, this didnt fair to well commercially.
[Iced Out Medallions featuring Noreaga Video]
A guilty pleasure for some but labeled a classic example of the dreaded sophomore jinx by many. It seemed that MG traded in his signature gold fronts for a shiny suit on his first single Nothin Move But The Money. Dude was even doing jiggy dance moves in the video. Its a shame though; there were a couple of joints on there (Unstoppable, For The Family, Usual Suspects). This would mark the end of TVTs first run at Hip-Hop with Blunt Records.
Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz
Snoop rubbed shoulders with Master P. for a minute and got the entrepreneurial bug. The result was Dogghouse Records. TVT decided to do the deal with the big homey and this ushered in the second wave of Rap releases. Even though Tray Deee and Goldie Loc werent as lyrically slick as the Boss Dogg; their G-Funk Crip swag was on full blast on their winning single Gd Up earning everyone involved a platinum plaque.
[Gd Up” Video]
Lil John & The Eastside Boyz
Put Yo Hood Up
This title was the one that really revved up TVTs momentum heading past the new millennium. Lil John & The Eastside Boys smash Bia Bia brought the Crunk movement nationwide with this pounding banger. Hits from his previous underground efforts were also made available on this disc (I Like Dem Girlz, Who U Wit). TVT would be awarded independent label of the year by Billboard Magazine that year in question and for the four years to follow. Coincidence? Maybe not.
[Bia Bia featuring Ludacris, Too Short, Chyna White Video]
Lil John & The Eastside Boyz
Kings Of Crunk
Wow. Talk about a monster ride. Lil John would set things off crazy with the rowdy I Dont Give A F***. The tear the club up anthem featured impressive guest performances from Mystikal and Krazie Bone; with both showcasing their perfected double time flows. However Get Low featuring The Ying Yang Twins would be the breakout hit from the album and one of the biggest songs in the country. Consider it Crunk on steroids.
[I Dont Give A F***” featuring Mystikal and Krazie Bone Video]
M.I.A.M.I.: Money Is A Major Issue
With a cosign from Lil John, Mr. 305 got his chance to boast his Cuban Miami flavor with tracks like Culo and Toma. Dammit Man was a mixtape favorite as well. Sadly the rest of this debut album wasnt as solid as many would have expected though.
[Culo featuring Lil John Video]
Lil John & The Eastside Boyz
The last effort with Big Sam and Lil Bo still in the crew; as if you knew what those two did in the first place. As a producer, Lil John was at his peak popularity here with number one singles for Usher (Yeah) and Ciara (Goodies) already in the bank. Ironically enough John sought help from his production peers on Crunk Juice. The album featured the rambunctious What U Gon Do and the R&B flavored Lovers And Friends. After this effort it seemed everyone was cool on Crunk.
[What U Gon Do featuring Lil’ Scrappy Video]
Ying Yang Twins
USA (United States Of Atlanta)
Consider this TVTs last big splash. Kaine and D-Roc deviated from their standard palette and popped off big with Wait (The Whisper Song). The smash lead the way for the short lived sub-genre of intimate club music. Their follow up single Shake would bring Ying Yang back to their raunchy roots with their standard call and response hook. At twenty three tracks deep, USA is severely weighed down by redundant booty worship and limited subject matter.