Combine rare hip hop savvy with an arsenal of Miami-based rappers ready to throw down for each other- all under one flag- and you have the formula for what just may possibly be the south's next big thing. Iconz Music Group is the sunshine state's strongest entry into the rap game in years. Spawned by Landmark Entertainment Committee, Iconz Music Group is both a force and a family. At its core is a record company that embraces both the Miami lifestyle and its most skilled purveyors of hip hop and R&B. Carl Bosse, one of the founders of The Committee (five talented producers who originally created Landmark Entertainment Committee in 1985) describes Iconz as "a clique, really. We're out to build superstars and our first disc sets the stage."
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He's talking about Street Money, a blistering introduction to the Iconz culture- and the first album for the Iconz Music Group / Slip n' Slide imprint that showcases the talents of all the roster notables, as well as other supreme Florida acts that have already made a name for themselves. The Committee has become a producing powerhouse in Florida, working with artists such as Trick Daddy and Trina. A quick name-check of the five producer/founders reveal Carl Bosse, Trak, Guerilla Tek, Fentz and Chapter. The Iconz Music Group roster boasts Chapter himself, Luc Duc, Stage McCloud, Bull Dog, Tony Manshino, Screwface, and the only female in the lineup, Jamaican born SupaStarr. Non labelmates on the album include Piccalo, Suicide, Lil' E, Blac Haze, and more. Says SupaStarr: "Being the only Iconz lady I get to keep them all in check," she laughs. "The best thing about Iconz is everyone has their distinct personality. Something unique to offer," she says. She begins to provide a few snapshots, "Chapter is strong, forceful and gets all the ladies. He dresses so fine; every time you see him he's on a different page. Bulldog is rawer, street. Stage loves to be the showman..." She stops herself when she realizes you have to listen to the album to really discover what she's talking about.
The scorching cuts and hilarious skits on Street Money fully display the diverse array of Iconz talent. From the current cathartic club smash "Get Fucked Up," to the hi-energy sequel "We Ain't Going Home Tonight," to the torrential pummeling of "Home-Vade," you discover there are stories being built upon stories here, all stemming from the raw camaraderie that fuels Iconz.
"We've been compared to a Ruff Ryders or a Wu Tang in terms of the way we roll together," says Stage McCloud. Bosse agrees: "Ruff Ryders is not a group, but everybody on the label is a Ruff Ryder. Well, concurrently, everyone on Iconz Music Group is an Icon. We are like family. When we converted our production company to a record company our goal was to let each Iconz artist eventually have their own album. Landmark was formed for the purposes of branching out into all these little babies. The Committee was the first baby. Iconz is just the latest baby."
It wasn't until last year, however, that they ventured to New York to try and shop a deal for this umbrella entity that showcases their entire hip hop philosophy. Their goal was to be able to properly nurture the tremendous pool of talent that was beginning to swirl around them. "Our goal is to go right to the top of the food chain," says Stage.
Which brings us back to the explosive Street Money. SupaStarr says there is indeed something for everybody on the album including plush flavors for the ladies. "If you listen to "You're a Trick," or "In This Bitch," you get to feel that sense of backing each other up that we keep talking about." Stage says the guys always had SupaStarr in mind, even when she ventured off to L.A. for a few years to pursue some acting and modeling opportunities.
"We always had a feel for each other," he says. He also stresses that all the participants share a similar sense of humor. He points to "Manshino Fuck Skit," or the provocatively pumping "Semour Butts," as examples of the Iconz tongue firmly planted in cheek. "On 'Semour' we're trying to point out how video producers and the like have been abusing the image of Miami," says Bosse. "They just come down here and use it for a backdrop without understanding what it's about. Iconz Music Group will definitely set the record straight. 'Semour Butt's' does it in a comical way."
Stage says another asset of Street Money is its diversity. "Once you put this album on you can ride it straight through. We guarantee you won't be pulling the shit out after three songs. By the time it's all over you're going to want to go back and listen all over again to get the whole story."
Including the several banging anthems on Street Money. Blac Haze and Luc Duc pound out the call-and-response of "Where My Thugz," with the kind of contagious zeal that's missing on a lot of recent sound-alike hip hop releases. But Bosse is quick to point out that the Iconz dogma doesn't include violence for violence's sake. "We want real Florida artists to represent Florida," he says. "You're not going to believe someone down here in ski cap and boots. You're not going to believe it's all about gangbanging, though we have gangs. We emphasize the party aspect, that the thug down here is retired, enjoying the good life. We're more about tequila and drinks with umbrellas, some Caribbean sounds floating through. You get a nice mixture of Miami bounce and a Caribbean feel."
"But we're still banging heads," adds Stage. "There have always been MC's spitting hard down here. Iconz is just taking it to the next level. We have a lot of music to showcase. It's time for the people to see the love that we always had for this thing. It's time to drop it for the whole world. They're going to see it all through our eyes now."
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