Get out the way

Andrea Hart

Disturbing Tha Peace records dropped one of the most distinctive rap singles of 2005, “Georgia” by the duo of Field Mob and Ludacris. The track not only features a moving beat and a Jamie Foxx hook, but it also hits you with the violin, an instrument you don’t often hear in hip-hop. “Georgia” is a declaration to both the entire music industry and hip-hop fans that the “Dirty South,” especially Atlanta, is where you can hear “hits and street classics.”

But what is it that prevents DTP records from being compared or stereotyped? After all, “Georgia” wasn’t the only 2005 track to sample Foxx’s pipes; Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” employed a similar strategy (to wildly successful results, nonetheless). And DTP records isn’t the only label to be started up by a multi-platinum rap artist; Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella Records and Diddy’s Bad Boy Inc. both got there first. After a phone interview with Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, R&B singer Bobby Valentino and 15 other college reporters, I learned that DTP just can’t be dismissed or easily classified.

“There’s no comparison (with other labels),” says Ludacris of DTP’s reputation as a new rap label. “We have people from all over and it’s this versatility that sets us apart from everyone else.”

DTP released its first compilation album, Golden Grain, in 2002, featuring such artists as Tity Boi, Lil’Fate, Jay Cee and, of course, Ludacris himself. Since then, the label has become home to some of today’s most successful and innovative rap and hip-hop musicians.

With 2005’s release, Ludacris Presents Disturbing Tha Peace, the label reinforced the old and ushered in the new. Aside from including veteran DTP artists such as Shawnna, the new release includes the southern stylings of hip-hop group Field Mob, the sexy voice of R&B songstress Shareefa and the pulsating sound of rock group Lazeye. By incorporating such drastically different artists, Luda and company say they truly capture the A-town (a.k.a. Atlanta) sound.

Ludacris says that when choosing which artists to put on the DTP label, it came down to three elements: “A good sound, a star personality, and a hard-working individual.”

Such versatility and creativity may have made Ludacris Presents Disturbing Tha Peace quite a unique album, but it also made producing the compilation rather challenging. “It’s kind of hard when you have 13 artists and they all have good ideas,” Ludacris says. According to Luda, even more challenging was selecting the songs that helped represent “the different elements” of each artist as well as the label itself.

“In DTP you have the complete package,” Valentino says of the compilation’s diversity. For Valentino, the wide spectrum of artists on the album isn’t unusual. “It’s everything you hear from A-town; it’s the different vibes, different moods and different grooves throughout different songs,” Valentino says.

But it’s not just the artists who distinguish DTP – it’s the label’s innovative mentality and committed work ethic that really sets them apart from the rest, Ludacris says.

“(The eclectic group of artists) kept it down to hungry producers,” Ludacris says. “There was no need to use top people.”

In order to promote the creative efforts of each artist while recording, Luda says they would often have “two people in one room and let them be sparked by beats.” Each of the 14 tracks on the album is intended to introduce the musicians and “give you an idea of what’s to come from them,” Ludacris says.

Both Valentino and Luda’s strong sense of community and emphasis on originality greatly echoes the mentality of the early ’90s DIY/indie rock movement. But perhaps instead of taking cues from a previous movement in music, DTP is really returning to the roots of hip-hop.

As CEO of DTP and a successful rap artist, Ludacris understands the nature of the genre extremely well. He confidently says, “You have to respect the state of hip-hop and what it is because every couple of years or so there’s a whole new generation of what young people think hip-hop really is. I just feel that we change with the times and at the same time; hip-hop is what you make it. Hip-hop is where it needs to be right now and I respect that.”

However, since listeners are already familiar with hip-hop’s history, the more important question to be posed is: Where does DTP stand in the future of hip-hop?

Apparently, they’re not too concerned. When asked if the new album would make 2006 the year of the “Dirty South,” Bobby Valentino quickly says, “2003, 2004 – the past three years have been the years of the ‘Dirty South.'” 4

Medill freshman Andrea Hart is a PLAY writer. She can be reached at [email protected]