The Urban Entrepreneurs Series:
â018Far Rock's Finest'
By Gary G. Toms
Much has been made of the fact that many of hip-hop's biggest acts have come out of the Rockaway. Redfern, Arverne, Edgemere, "the 40's", "O.V.", and the Hammel Houses were once home to such artists as M.C. Search, of the group Third Base, Father M.C., "Superb" of the American Cream Team (in conjunction with Wu Tang Clan) and a host of others.
"Far Rock's Finest", an underground hip-hop CD featuring 17 tracks from up and coming artists from Rockaway, is the brainchild of brothers, and longtime Rockaway residents, Matthew (Matlock) and Titus (Track) Smith. They are the President and Vice-President of G.B.M. Entertainment, an independent record company based in Far Rockaway.
"The company was built from ambition, patience and hard work. We've been doing this for the last 10 years. We could've gone to major labels for deals, but we wanted total control of our projects. We literally scraped and saved our pennies, and we started buying studio equipment. Then I got an attorney and an accountant. Now, it's all starting to pay off," said Matthew Smith.
"Track" echoed the sentiments of his brother.
"What started out as just a vision in the mind of two young boys is now a reality. Family built this organization, and therefore, we consider it to be a family organization. This simply means that once you are part of this organization, we work together to help each other achieve success."
The CD brought together talent from all over the eastern sector of Rockaway, who usually battle over what area has the best rappers and "gangsta" representation.
"It was important for us to bring people together from the many different projects and show them that it's about the music. It's not about feuding or disrespecting each other. It's about following your dreams and doing something positive with your life," said older brother Titus.
"Matlock" knows all too well about making transitions. It was only a few years ago that he was involved in what he described as "negativity", while spending time in Pittsburgh. That "gangsta" lifestyle nearly cost him his life one evening. He peeled back his sweater to reveal a scar from when he was shot in the chest with a 357 magnum, at point blank range.
"It was my wake-up call. I should have died and everybody, from the doctors to my family, has told me that. I've been given a second chance, and I'm not going to mess it up this time. I was a true hustler back in the days, but now I hustle on the positive side. I have two jobs to keep this company going and to feed my three kids. I look at my little girl, and I just know I have to do the right thing. I want to make them proud. My daughter is my biggest fan," said the company President.
The brothers explain that the name "G.B.M." stands for Generate Business Money. The company's overall objective is to provide growth and a future for everyone that becomes involved with it, and will focus on the growth of the organization as well. They also believe in providing a comfortable business atmosphere; production and artist development; guidance; promotion; and exposure.
The brothers noted that one of the driving factors in their success has been the recent attack on the World Trade Center.
"We were greatly affected by the tragedy of September 11. It woke us up to the fact that you have to live for today. You have to try and accomplish as much as you can because tomorrow is not promised to you. That's what we tell all the artists coming on board. It's about representing Far Rock and the Rockaway community to the fullest extent, and it must be done on a positive level," said Titus.
The company has plans to venture into other areas in the years to come, and they are well on their way to doing so.
Younger brother, "Matlock" states, "Music is the foundation of this company, but we are going to be branching out into many different areas, pretty much the way Puffy (P. Diddy) has been able to do. We will have R & B artists, gospel singers and a clothing line. We also plan to tone down the roughness and hardcore aspects of our CD's, aimed at adult audiences, so we can give the young kids a chance to experience the banging sounds coming out of Rockaway."
When questioned about what they look for in new talent, the brothers wasted no time in answering.
"We look for people who are hungry for success. They must have ambition, creativity, determination, and no egos. They also have to be willing to leave the negative lifestyles behind."
The Smith brothers are currently working on solo projects as well, and they will be featuring a prominent hip-hop star on an album dropping in 2002.
For more information on the company, you can log on to their website at GBM/Ent@hotmail.com.