Murder Inc. Records was a surprising music powerhouse, dominating the charts in the late 90s to early 2000s. Label founder Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo took his DJ expertise of rocking hood block parties in his native Queens, NY neighborhood, to spinning wax on international stages with Jay Z to creating production gems for up and coming artists like Mic Geronimo. All of that lead to the Murder Inc. imprint that made millions for parent company, Def Jam Records. Irv’s main confidant and steadfast partner in all of his dealings has been his older brother, Chris “Gotti” Lorenzo. Both the product of Hollis, Queens’ rough 70s and 80s NYC. They were there witnessing Run-DMC’s rise to hip-hop icon status first hand. Taking that vision and implying it to their own hustle created the success of Murder Inc’s biggest artists in rap sensation Ja Rule, R&B star Ashanti and crooner Lloyd.
The best of days included world tours for Ja, record breaking hits by Ashanti and movie roles for both headlining acts, all guided by Irv and Chris’ influence. Then things started going down hill for the company’s leaders. They were hit from various angles, music industry backlash, government indictments and street beef. After surviving years of the unlucky onslaught, the pair have found solace and success in various business since beating seemingly insurmountalbe federal government charges.
Irv has gone deeper into tv and film production with new reality shows on deck with major networks like VH1 and BET, along with footwear deals for Ja Rule and Iggy Azealia. Chris leaned toward the gambling world, once managing world poker champ Phil Ivey and dabbling in the boxing circuit. Yet, Chris’ newest most natural endeavor is Add Ventures. It’s a full service digital distrubution platform for new and upcoming music artists. There are also live showcases you can join when they come to your city, like the one happening in NYC on June 16th. If you find that your music sitting on Youtube is doing just that, sitting with no traction, then Chris says his company is here to help you. How? We’ll let him explain.
Everybody right now is gonna wonder, alright, Chris and Irv have had success with Murder Inc. They’ve had success in film. What makes this particular project viable for the people that’ve seen you on a history scale?
First and foremost is, you have to look at my history and understand that I don’t want to ruin my credibility. So this isn’t a hustle. So a lot of people want to know where the money is going and what’s it for. All the money that comes in is going back into new artists that need the support. I have to converge partnerships, from clothing lines, to brand partners, to distribution partners just to help get them seen and heard. So that’s my number one goal for independent artists, just to get them seen and heard. I would never jepordize my credibility and history for a moment.
For a hustle…
Yes. Just a moment of time that’ll end just like that. Once people find out it’s a hustle it’s over with. So this isn’t a hustle, this is truly an empowerment vehicle for every artist, no matter how big or small so that they can own and operate their own business and monetize it.
The thing seems to be like, artists are getting some kind of power structure back. Jay has his streaming thing with Tidal and he’s like “We want to empower the artist.” Spotify’s like, “Hey, here are new programs on streaming.” Then Apple links with Drake and they’re talking about, “This is how we empower the people who listen to music.” What does it all really mean in the grand scheme of things?
Absolutely nothing [laughs]. So when I look at these platforms, I just left Roc Nation yesterday. Shout out to Tidal and all of their challenges. Desiree Perez is a monster. Jay-Z is a monster. I love what they’re doing. They’ve created a space for the conversation. What it is, is that they’re challenging existing people and their own ideas on how they run and manipulating the music business. They were getting such pushback and resistance. It’s sad because some of the same people they made millions of dollars for [are] pushing back the hardest. It’s like man, you would think after the history that they’ve been through with each other, you would think there would almost be like a comradery. Like, “Hey good luck, can we help you? But instead it’s a complete opposite. Like, “Stay in your place, don’t come over here this isn’t for you. And you can be part of it, you can eat side here and be an artist like Drake, but you can’t own it and be like we are.”
And that is where it’s wrong and I love that [Tidal] is challenging the existing people just like I am. I don’t have a problem with saying I’m gonna do it my way and the way I want. I think people that are from my culture, my space are gonna understand it better than they understand you. It’s empowerment. It’s independence.
Where does Add Ventures come in on that play? A lot of the streaming industry is asking people for money. Your platform is asking for money, but it’s for people’s own careers?
Their platform is asking for money on an ongoing standpoint. They never stop asking for money [laughs]. They’re subscription based, but if you understand the platform that they have, they’re subscription based because you’re getting millions of millions of songs. Access to these artists that upload these songs up into their platform that they get that you can listen to any time, as many times as you want, and you have it. For that price of $10, $25, or $15, or whatever depending on the level of access you want. But at the end of the day that’s what they’re doing. That’s their business, that is NOT my business at Add Ventures Music. Add Ventures music is different.
I’m creating that artist that wants to be on [that] platform. I’m supporting that artist that [they] gonna want in [that] platform. The difference is I said, no one wants to play with the artist that I’m playing with. I’m dealing with the most infant stage artist to the most sophisticated. I’ll show them how to run and operate their own business and actually monetize every stream, not just one stream, not just Tidal. They can be in all of those places instead of just an isolated one. All these artists that’s sign up exclusive, like a Drake, Nas, exclusive, that’s the only place you’re gonna be able to get it. And it’s the stupidest move to me that they could ask for is exclusivity, because as artists you want to be seen and heard.
That’s like just saying back in the day, only being in Tower Records, but you couldn’t be in Virgin Records store.
Exactly, are you crazy? I’m gonna be in everywhere I can. And that is to me one of the reasons why this isn’t the complete solution to the music business.
Because what they’re doing now at the streaming end, you’re making the chess move in front of these labels as David and they’re Goliath.
Absolutely. I am David, but I’m taking the underdogs that have no voice, feel like they’re part of any of that community and that’s part of that challenge I have to make those guys that have no voice accepted, seen and heard.
Now they have access because they can go to YouTube, they can go to Vevo, they can upload their stuff but it’s not getting seen. These are kids that are low hundreds in views maybe a few thousand in views at that. That was Bobby Shumurda at one point, there was just a couple of hundred views at one point.
Again, music has no…no one can control music, meaning we can’t force people to like music. It’s like, who the pied piper of today. You know the Pied Piper came in the village and took all the kids because he played his music and they loved it and they followed him all around the village. It’s the same theory as an artist. I tell every artist, “I can get your music seen and heard, but I can’t make people like your music. That’s your job” So Bobby Shumurda thought he made a record that reacted with the people and people liked that record and magic happened. Fetty Wap, same thing. Magic happened. And now his job as an artist is to keep and maintain that level of expertise and sound.
Call me crazy and maybe I’m a dreamer right? I just feel like someone has to help the people that need the help. I’m doing it the best way possible that I can do it and that I see fit. From any platform out there there’s no one doing what I’m doing for them. I have a component that helps them raise money. So an artist with nothing can come up into Add Ventures music and I can help them raise money. I don’t care if it’s $1,000, $500…it’s money that they can never get to without coming to me and I have a component. It’s not to put in their pocket. So this isn’t like I’m raising money so they can put money in their pocket. It’s to market and promote their music, their product. To help it be seen and heard. That’s it. I can do that on all scales. I have a manufacturing partner that they can instantly start from zero and can be in business from selling merchandise without putting up money.
But why are you willing to work with the people that no one wants to work with?
Someone has too.
For more information on Add Ventures, visit their website at www.addventuresrecords.com and be on the look out for music showcases by the brand across America.