"Hawaii" Mike // Follow
NAME: Matty C (Matt Life)
OCCUPATION: Production consultant/Investment Executive, Matteo Glen, Inc.
FOLLOW: @MatteoGlen @FrozenFiles
WHY: So next time you hear Biggie say "Peace to Matteo" on "Where Brooklyn at?" you know who he's talking about.
Dedicated to all B-boys in their 40s who were young teens in this when it all started.
As a kid, I made it a point to preserve my native-New-Yorker-identity, even though I was only 8 years old when we moved to DC. So like many other NY-expats, hip-hop culture soon became my way of holding on to home. I was a Breakdancing fanatic as soon as the first images of hip-hop were entering the mainstream eye.
In 1982, when the movie Wild Style was released, my crew, Warpath Breakers, was invited to perform on a local TV news program, Morning Break, while the filmmakers, Charlie Ahearn and Fab 5 Freddy were interviewed. Several backspins and a couple windmills later, the respect we received from Fab and Charlie that day has made me feel like a true part of the hip-hop explosion since I was 13!
Always the lunchroom table percussionist in school, the beats stayed in me the most, and I soaked up every bar and every verse of rap's early era. But after a few years, DC turned me into more of a go-go street baller than a breakdancer, hence how I got to know Go-Go Dave Mays. We played at a few of the same parks with a few of the same friends. The fact that I knew Dave was, of course, my link for joining The Source Magazine in '89. In my first few days at NYU, I bumped into a mutual friend from DC friend who took me to his roommate's childhood homie, Jon Shecter, who was working on the first color issue of The Source in an NYU dorm.
I think two things made Jon give me that shot. First, I knew Mays from DC, and, this other kid, Dave Kasdan, who knew us both. Kas made it clear that I was one of those B-boys in DC that lived for hip-hop. Jon and I hit it off. He's a walking encyclopedia of early hip-hop. Go-Go Dave? Not so much, until he got to Harvard. Second, I had the 'running man' down pat, and Shecky was dying to learn the dance.
With a couple journalism courses under my belt, the shoe fit for me to take over the News Editor position where I was in charge of the Ear To The Street, which included the Unsigned Hype column. I also happened to be the only one with the patience to actually listen to thousands of demos, something I would later learn most labels rarely did.
Artists I featured in the column that went on to sign record deals (some with my assistance, some without) include:
- The Notorious B.I.G.
- Mobb Deep
- Ill The Mack (Ill & Al Scratch)
- Freestyle Fellowship
- Pep Love
- DJ Shadow
- Mr. Complex
- Agallah (8-Off The Assassin)
At 24, my next big break was accepting Steve Rifkind's offer to take my 'ear' to LOUD Records just as Wu-Tang was preparing its commercial release. The Wu was also an unsigned group I featured in The Source long before signing a deal, but it appeared in the 'singles file' because they had pressed vinyl on their own. My first recommendations at LOUD were releasing Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." as a single, then signing Raekwon and Mobb Deep.
Artists I worked with at LOUD include:
- Mobb Deep
- Raekwon & Ghostface
- Big Pun
- dead prez
- The Beatnuts
- Sadat X
- The U.N.
- Roc Marciano
What inspires me and has always driven me is to identify talent early and help enhance it. What makes me feel accomplished is knowing that there are people out there doing well who I've been able to help. This has always been what I wanted to do even as a sociology major at NYU. These days I am more directly involved in enhancing investment returns than creative talent, but the goal is still the same, and the same instincts are proving effective.
As an investment executive in the the hip-hop industry, I work to help entertainment professionals earn, preserve and plan for their families' futures. Now a husband and a the father of two kids about the same age I was when I fell in love with hip-hop, I spend most of the time I used to spend in a club helping my family and friends invest.
I still guard the gates of the Golden Era of hip-hop every Wednesday 8-10pm EST with my man Schott Free (also the former A&R at LOUD from Shaolin who discovered the Wu) at East Village Radio on a show called Frozen Files Presents… Check the archives, send demos to firstname.lastname@example.org and look out for the penguin with the headphones, preserving legacies and developing new ones.
I'm humbled to have been given these opportunities, especially by my peers. I recognize that time, place and luck all played a huge part in my success. I owe the most gratitude to Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash for paving the way for all of us who have been able to make a living in hip-hop.
One last word: Another thing people also may not about me is I'm not 'a mountain climber who plays an electric guitar', but I surf my ass off all year-round! My prayers go out to all of those in coastal areas devastated by Sandy.