Block Starz Music

Block Starz Music
Block Starz Music .jpg
Founded2008 (2008)
FounderBayer Mack
Kai Denninger
Distributor(s)Select-O-Hits
GenreVarious
Country of originU.S.
LocationLouisville, Kentucky
Sarasota, Florida
Official websitewww.blockstarztv.com

Block Starz Music is an American independent record label owned and operated by Bayer Mack. Its catalog includes independent releases by Machine Gun Kelly, Lega-C, Wiz Khalifa, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Big Sean, Rhymefest, and Ceddy Bu Rap Sumo.[1] The label also includes its subsidiaries such as the independent film and television production company Block Starz Music Television.[2]

History

2008–2009: Early years

Block Starz Music's first official mixtape, Suburban Empire by ex-VH1 reality show star John Brown, was released in early 2009. An alumnus of Ego Trip's The White Rapper Show, XXL Magazine put Brown "in the same category as Weird Al Yankovic" and lampooned the project.[3] The first Block Starz compilation, West Coast Block Starz, was released in early February 2009 and featured various new artists and guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, E-40, Keak da Sneak, and Daz Dillinger.[4][5]

East Coast Block Starz cover art

In the summer of 2009, Block Starz partnered with Atlanta-based D-Lo Entertainment to release Certified, the debut mixtape from future Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta cast member Rasheeda.[6][7] The company would go on to have more success with the mixtape release What's High? by a nineteen-year-old Jewish rapper from Youngstown, OH named Throwback,[8] who at the time had the same manager as a then unsigned Wiz Khalifa. Block Starz Music quickly signed Throwback, who had recorded two songs with Khalifa, as its first official artist and began work on East Coast Block Starz in the fall of 2009.[9] Released on December 29 with the song "Was It" by Throwback featuring Wiz Khalifa as the lead single, East Coast Block Starz received generally favorable reviews,[10] though critics noted it had a decidedly more commercial slant than its predecessor.[11] In addition to "Was It", which benefited from the growing popularity of Wiz Khalifa, Boston native Supastar LT's collaboration, "I Love My City", with Kardinal Offishall and Red Cafe also became a popular-selling download from the project.

2010–2011: Rise of the brand

As part of a grassroots marketing effort to promote its brand and scout new talent, Block Starz began co-sponsoring regional music awards, beginning in February 2010 with the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards[12] and later with the 3rd Annual South Carolina Music Awards held on July 10, 2010.[13] It was also during this time that the label came across a young, unsigned Cleveland, Ohio artist named Machine Gun Kelly, who had won "Best Performer" at the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards in 2009, and signed an agreement to release the rapper's single "Alice In Wonderland" as part of its upcoming Midwest Block Starz compilation.

On March 5 of 2010, Block Starz announced that Grammy Award winner Rhymefest had signed on to the Midwest Block Starz project,[14] which by then already featured appearances by rappers Twista, Shawnna, and newcomer Big Sean.[15] Released on May 26, the compilation spawned a minor hit with Rhymefest's radio-friendly "Say Wassup" featuring Phonte of Little Brother, but "Alice In Wonderland" would go on to become the company's best-selling single to date, with the music video winning "Best Video" at the 2010 Ohio Hip-Hop Awards.[16]

Block Starz Music signed Topeka, Kansas rapper Mike Schpitz after his appearance on Midwest Block Starz and released his 11-track EP debut, Stanley Ipkiss: Year of the Nice Guy on August 3, 2010.[17] Inspired by Jim Carrey's character from the 1994 box office smash The Mask, critical response to project was mixed,[18] but the EP debuted in Amazon.com's Top 20 new Hip-Hop releases and Top 50 new Alternative releases in Germany, becoming the label's best-selling solo release to date.[19]

In April 2011, it was widely reported that Jay-Z had outbid executives at Universal Records and Jive Records to acquire Block Starz Music.[20][21][22]

Lega-C and Machine Gun Kelly

On September 1, 2011 the label announced the signing of Tulsa, Oklahoma rapper/singer/producer Lega-C,[23] whose viral YouTube video, "White Girl Raps Fast", would go on to generate millions of views at various popular music and entertainment websites online.[24][25][26] Seeking to capitalize off Lega-C's growing YouTube popularity, Block Starz Music announced the release of a video mixtape titled "Who Got Tha Heater" featuring eight freestyle remixes of popular singles by artists like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye West, and two original songs.[27][28] On December 5, 2011, in a statement released through her label, Lega-C confirmed the existence of a pornographic home video and pictures taken by an ex-boyfriend years earlier.[29]

On November 29, 2011, Block Starz Music released "Macho Man" by Delwin Tha Krazyman, which featured the national debut of 650-pound Plaquemine, Louisiana rapper Ceddy Bu Rap Sumo. Ceddybu also collaborated with Lega-C for track "Don't F Around" featured on the CD version of the female rapper's major indie debut Off My Medication.[30][31]

2012: Left Eye, "Bath Salts", Off My Medication

On February 9, 2012, Block Starz signed 16-year-old Auburn, New York rapper and Floyd Mayweather Jr protégé Cameron Sanders, aka Young Siege, and announced plans to feature him on East Coast Block Starz 2. [32] On February 22, 2012, the label signed Bootleg of Flint, Michigan rap group The Dayton Family and unveiled the rapper's previously unreleased collaboration with Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC to commemorate the upcoming tenth anniversary of the pop star's death on April 25, 2002. Recorded a few months before her death, Left Eye's verse on the song "Fantasies" is the only 16-bar feature she ever recorded with another rapper.[33][34][35][36][37][38]

Off My Medication cover art

Block Starz Music's newly signed satirical comedy rapper, Dickward Codgers, made national headlines in August 2012 with the release of his controversial music video, "Bath Salts", which featured what label executives deemed to be excessive drug references and graphic depictions of violence and was the company's first to carry an official disclaimer.[39]

Lega-C's debut album on Block Starz Music, titled Off My Medication, was released October 31, 2012.[40] The first music video from Off My Medication, "That Bitch", debuted online October 22 as a street release to the official radio single, "Speaking Sublimely", which features Wrekonize of Strange Music's acclaimed rap/rock band ¡Mayday!.[41][42] Reviews for the album have been positive, with critics declaring, "the Tulsa Twista is more than a one trick pony" and the release as "a collection of defiant grit anthems that exhibit how Lega-C continues to prove that looks can be deceiving". The album's sound has been praised as, "real rap; kinda West-Coastish from the late 90's but definitely 2012. Hard beats and a sleek, clean lyrical flow." [43][44][45] One day after the digital release of Off My Medication, it was announced that a CD version of the album would be distributed nationally by Select-O-Hits.[46][47]

2014 to present: Darrell Cole

In 2014, the label introduced Afro-Belgian rapper Darrell Cole and released the rapper's North American debut,"Swahili", the following year. On the song, Cole, who was born in London, England and raised in Sierra Leone, raps about the dual stigmatization Africans face in Europe and their homeland. In 2016, it was announced Darrell Cole had signed with Sony Music.[48][49]

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