Time’s Up: TVT Records (1985-2008)

It’s 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 didn’t 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 you’ll see something here that peaks your interest and you’ll help them pay a bill or two.

 

 

Mic Geronimo

The Natural

1995

 

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. wasn’t as scientifically gifted as a Nas with the lyrics, but the young boy had flows for days. You had joints like the gritty “Sh*t’s Real” and “Masta I.C.” on there. This debut also featured Ja Rule, DMX and Jay-Z all rocking together with Mic on “It’s Time To Build.” A truly slept on gem, this represented that early 90’s army jacket and Timberland season in New York Rap.

 

[“Masta I.C.” featuring Royal Flush Video]

 

 

Cash Money Click

“Get Tha Fortune”

1995

 

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]

 

 

Royal Flush

Ghetto Millionaire

1997

 

Geronimo’s 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 didn’t fair to well commercially.

 

[“Iced Out Medallions” featuring Noreaga Video]

 

 

Mic Geronimo

Vendetta

1997

 

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. It’s a shame though; there were a couple of joints on there (“Unstoppable,” “For The Family,” “Usual Suspects”). This would mark the end of TVT’s first run at Hip-Hop with Blunt Records.

 

  

Tha Eastsidaz

Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz

2000

 

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 weren’t as lyrically slick as the Boss Dogg; their G-Funk Crip swag was on full blast on their winning single “G’d Up” earning everyone involved a platinum plaque.

 

[“G’d Up” Video]

 

 

Lil John & The Eastside Boyz

Put Yo Hood Up

2001

 

This title was the one that really revved up TVT’s 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

2002

 

Wow. Talk about a monster ride. Lil’ John would set things off crazy with the rowdy “I Don’t 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 Don’t Give A F***” featuring Mystikal and Krazie Bone Video]

 

Pitbull

M.I.A.M.I.: Money Is A Major Issue

2004

 

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 wasn’t as solid as many would have expected though.

 

[“Culo” featuring Lil John Video]

 

 

Lil John & The Eastside Boyz

Crunk Juice

2004

 

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 “Lover’s 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)

2005

 

Consider this TVT’s 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.   

 

[“Wait” Video]

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