I showed up to a swanky NYC hotel room on a Saturday night not having a clue what to expect.
When I was originally invited to attend an intimate launch event of a new dance music record label my ears perked up – but it wasn't because of the genre of music, or a fancy invite. It was because of the names behind the launch.
After some small talk and meeting everyone in the hotel room (maybe 12-15 people) it seemed the feeling was mutual. Everyone was on edge with anticipation, curious as to what we were in for. A beautiful white Rolls Royce pulls up with Ice-T, his wife CoCo and Mr. X (also known as Afrika Islam & Charlie Funk) inside.
Once upstairs they make their rounds, do a few one on one chats and then we get deep into conversation with a live interview/Q&A (led by DJ Times) about their new dance music project – Electronic Beat Empire. It's a tech/techno based record label. Ice-T and Mr. X go way back so not only are we hearing about the project but we are getting some serious music knowledge dropped on us from the guys who helped Pioneer music as we know it today. I grew up on hip-hop from the 90s, and then fell in love with dance music in the early 2000s so this was fascinating for me. Like a meeting of the minds that broke down the barriers of what was possible for music over the years.
We listened to these two artists talk with full attentiveness for a good amount of time, and all I could think is that these guys really love what they do, and are dedicated to the music (regardless of genre). They've both been in the game since the foundation was laid, and they helped lay it. Now they are taking on a new adventure with the passion and fire still present. They're not doing it because electronic music is now popular in the states, and definitely not afraid of trying new things. They are doing it to have some fun and put out music they can stand behind without having to ask anyone permission.
Afrika Islam started out DJing in NYC with the Rock Steady Crew and learning from his mentor Afrika Bambaataa. He honed his skills and quickly became a staple in DJ culture. He moved to LA where he met Ice-T and the two became friends as he produced for Ice-T. He then discovered and predicted the power of electronic music before it became popular in the states; and has been playing techno over in Europe under the moniker Mr. X for the past 15 years. Mr. X is now the first major artist to sign to their new label Electronic Beat Empire with his first release, The Brutal E.P.
Ice-T is a rapper, actor and record producer whose influence on American pop culture is infinite. Originally from LA, he's one of the west coast’s most well known artists, with albums like O.G. Original Gangster (1991). He's often cited as one of the key factors in influencing the genre today known as “gangster rap,” and best known today for his role as Detective Fin on Law & Order SVU.