BY ROY ALBERT ANDRADE, K1LLER, Inc.
PACOIMA, CALIFORNIA - The Western recording industry surfaced somewhere between the 1930s, and 1950s as records began replacing sheet music as a source of income for executive producers. The Western recording industry consists of an amalgamation of entertainment lawyers, intellectual property rights, lobbyists, consumer researchers, accountants, A&R administrators, and trade organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America. Jorge "Spooky" Martinez, and Juan "Sleepy Malo" Iturriaga, are two out of two million. They know the ins and outs of the recording industry. After all, they own M.O.B.G Entertainment, an independent record label.
Spooky was born in El Savador, a small Central American nation known for its surf spots, volcano activity, and earthquakes. He was brought to the United States in 1973, and had his first birthday in Pacoima, California. The 7.14 square mile boundary line is predominately Latino, roughly 85.6%, with a median household income of $49,000, and has been recognized for its gang violence on television sets across "The Golden State" over the years. However, notable people have risen out of "Pacas (Pacoima)," and contributed to American history. For example, Judy Baca, Bobby Chacon, Ritchie Valens, DaShon Polk, Levi Ponce, Olivia Jane d'Abo, and Alex Padilla.
It didn't take long for Spooky to learn that Benjamin Franklin's portrait was printed on every hundred-dollar bill in America, and that drugs were one of the fastest ways to help him collect them.
"I ran away at 14. I was tired of hearing my parents voice, 'Don't do this, don't do that,' and cut ties with them for almost five [expletive] years. I was [expletive] tired of their [expletive]. I started my own “click” at 15, and sold PCP to survive. Even though all this [expletive] was going on, I maintained respectable grades, and my personal hygiene in jr. high... I went to Limerick Ave Elementary in Canoga Park, and Chatsworth High School... I got shot eight times during a drug transaction, and remained on life support for nearly a month. This gave me plenty of time to think... I graduated from Mission College with an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, but, things didn't go according to plan. [expletive] happens," Spooky said.
Spooky was arrested before he got the opportunity to pin a badge to his shirt, and continued getting arrested, spending months at a time in the Los Angeles County Jail. "I couldn't help it! Drugs was where the money was at at the time. I decided to return to school. I enrolled at Cal State University," Spooky calmly explained. He was close to earning a bachelors degree when he was stopped dead in his tracks, and was arrested for violating the law. He continued, "I was 19-years-old when I opened my first record store, and ran a legitimate business. However, I sold drugs elsewhere, and ended up in prison. My lawyer asked the governor of California for a pardon, and I was granted executive clemency. [Expletive] yeah! Upon my release, I ran into Mr. D, executive producer of Southland, a record company, and built a business relationship with him. I ordered Southland merchandise, and booked him on several occasions to come to the record store to sign autographs with his recording artists for our customers."
A number of brick-and-mortar stores have gone out of business due to digital downloads, and have filed bankruptcy over the years. As for My Oldies But Goodies (M.O.B.G), that's not the case. "Record sales are at an all time high, and we are truly blessed to be in this business. It's been an incredible experience, and I am constantly reading material pertaining to the music business. [Expletive] the dumb [expletive]. We have people driving from as far as Las Vegas to buy a particular record, cassette, or CD at our store. We specialize in hard to find records... I sold a record for as much as $300. Back to Mr. D, I picked his brain, and learned the more about the music business through him... I have a dozen witnesses, Pitbull, the rapper, made several attempts to kick it with Mr. D, and work out a recording contract with Southland, but, he was ostracized from the group... I'm serious! Julio "Spanky" Iturriaga, Sleepy Malo's brother, told him to kick rocks," Spooky truthfully explains. "Man, I grew tired of seeing countless people get rejected, and decided to start my own record label to give people a chance to let their voices be heard."
Sleepy Malo ditched Southland, and started an independent label, M.O.B.G Entertainment, with Spooky, who began financing various recording projects, including multiple tours to Europe, and Asia to build a stronger fan base overseas. "I had a vision to mess with big names. I use to listen to MC Eight, and booked him for a project. We started NWA-style, from a backyard garage, and began recording music, ending up with 'Pac Town Riders' as our first album. I reached out to a lot of people. Nobody has to be from a gang to be from M.O.B.G Entertainment. International sales skyrocketed. Russia, and Japan are two of our biggest buyers... Sleepy Malo had a name, so, when he came to our side, his fan base just followed. Nobody wanted to do business with the blacks. I did and made it happen. Im colorblind. We rap with blacks. We are making money. They making money, and that's the bottom line. Money!"
I entered the 'rap game' at 14, and learned its not what you have, its what you know, how, to work with," Ace One Eight, M.O.B.G recording artist explains, referring to home grown studios as opposed to traditional recording studios. "My cousin rapped," he continues, "We were drinking one night, and he asked me to make some beats (instrumentals) for him. I knew I was building a recording studio at home and learning all the [expletive] I needed to make music. My sister told someone from M.O.B.G Entertainment that I was producing beats. I got my foot in the door," referring to M.O.B.G Entertainment. "I got in contact with Solo Sinatra, and presented some work to him. He was impressed and contacted Sleepy Malo to inform him of an up-and-coming music producer. He was talking about me of course. Sleepy called me, and asked for a favor. He wanted me to produce some beats for him. I asked him for a favor in return, to record a voice tag, when he arrived. I told him to meet me at 711. I drove him back to my place, and he immediately asked, 'Do you have a spot I can put this?' It was a strap (gun). And that was the beginning of a lifetime relationship," Ace One Eight explained.
Nefiorious Mexshika has not released a studio album, but, has been featured on numerous tracks on the label (M.O.B.G Entertainment). Nefiorious Mexshika remarked, “Im looking forward to getting it (studio album) done... I didn’t know Spooks was educated." He laughs. "Its good to know someone he took his life serious... I'm happy with who I am. Music is a communication device, ya know?" Nefiorious Mexshika begins to rap, "I've been known to be hated, because I know too much, they didn't know gangster [expletive] could have an intellectual touch?" He pauses. "Spooky knew me for years. My brother mentioned me to Sleepy Malo, and he told Spooky that I was spitting fire. They (Sleepy, Spooky) were listening to a song I made, and they asked me, 'When are you ready to start touring?' What the [expletive]? 'Now!' Was my response. M.O.B.G Entertainment!"
During our interview Conejo, rap artist, called Spooky's mobile phone, using a prepaid collect calling account from inside the Los Angeles County Jail. Spooky placed Conejo on speaker, "I've been here for about a year, now, but, I will be home soon! K1LLER, Inc.'s readers can reach me on Facebook, Conejo Rapper. Gracias (Thank you)!" Speaking of Conejo, Ace One Eight produced a track for the, jailed, yet, prolific, and heavily armed recording artist. "We are waiting patiently for Conejo to return home, and will bring him to the studio as soon as he is back on the streets," the highly sophisticated record label owner, Spooky, explained.
A close friend of Spooky, nicknamed, Smiley, leaned back in his chair, raised three fingers in the air, and said, “Pacoima started with three gangs... the Flats, the Treces, and the Latin Times. We we're a wild bunch. Most of those dudes (the Flats, the Treces, and the Latin Times) ended up behind bars, and lost their lives through gang violence. We came out different than the older homies... We learned from their mistakes, and came out of Pacoima hard! Dope selling! We were money-makers, and had our [expletive] together!”
Trouble P, 25, released a six track studio album. His first album on the label. As a kid he rapped, and used his mother's computer to record songs. "My parents have a background too! I was their first experiment. They were growing up at the same time they were raising me. They wanted the best for me, and tried to hide their background from me. My father was gang banging with his nephews, and putting in work for the neighborhood, earning him a reputation built around fear. My cousins would advise me not to follow in his footsteps, but, I didn't listen. I was fronted dope sacks, and would return with a fist full of money. That's how the game worked... Word got out that I was rapping, and Smiley knew I was ready for the big leagues, so, he contacted M.O.B.G Entertainment. And here I am!" Trouble P boasted.
Shawn W. Anderson