The Label and How We Came to Be

Around 2002/3, in the midst of a rapidly shifting musical landscape, the advent of social media and personal connectivity to fans created a different avenue for artists to engage with fans and get their music out more quickly. While Pro and I were working on Masks & Façades, we saw the shift happening right before our eyes, and began to think, “you know what? we don’t need to feed into the label behemoths (who were in the midst of imploding in the wake of Napster and peer-to-peer music sharing networks) in order to be heard – we can do it ourselves!”

I was working as a young A&R/Art Director at another boutique label, laying the groundwork for Chicago emcee OL “Brownlion” Buckley and producer/vocalist Deonis “Pumah” Cook, my first year out of college, and MySpace was picking up steam quickly. Even our President and VP, who came out of the Interscope and Arista systems didn’t know how to handle the shift.

In the midst of all of this change, I came upon the revelation that we needed to start and run our own label (mostly, we just needed an imprint from which to launch our music). It wouldn’t function as your typical, paint-by-numbers label, more so a label on paper. That’s it people, that’s how The Paper Label was born. Seriously, it’s really that simple. We had an idea, we ran with it.

We just loved what we were doing so much; basking in the chemistry, creating out of sheer love, and growing as producers. That was really all we needed. The thrill of hearing a finished beat, the excitement of Big Suave gripping the mic and making it something truly special, the victory of dropping a fresh new album – doing it for the love; for the culture.

The Kid FlamesCo-Founder & Producer

This came with only a couple of caveats 1) Pro and I would always make music together, even if we chose to fly solo and explore creatively for a bit, always encouraging each other when doing so and 2) we’d never let money come between us. The latter didn’t matter much because for all our hubris and ambition, we never made much money in those early days.

The thing is, it was never really about that. We just loved what we were doing so much; basking in the chemistry, creating out of sheer love, and growing as producers. That was really all we needed. The thrill of hearing a finished beat, the excitement of Big Suave (#4MoreYears) gripping the mic and making it something truly special, the victory of dropping a fresh new album – doing it for the love.

That brings me back. One of my favorite songs ever comes from DJ Jazzy Jeff’s iconic album, The Magnificent; it’s called “For Da Love of Da Game”. It’s a statement of purpose, about doing something past yourself and the surface motivations of the limelight or money or excess. It’s about the purity of creation. The gift with which we artists have been bestowed, That’s the entire motivation behind The Paper Label. It’s about doing whatever you love most, to the fullest, if for nothing more than the culture. It’s more than a genre or a label or beats or rhymes – it’s growth. It’s a revolution – and it will not be televised.

We do this for you; for the culture. We do it for the people who love and thrive on music and art. Thank you, sincerely, for taking the time to listen and check us out. We know you have a ton of choices, and the fact that you’ve turned your eyes and ears this way means the world to us.

Peace and love.
-TKF