After introducing Miami MCs like Trick Daddy and Trina in the 1990’s, Slip-N-Slide CEO and founder Ted Lucas has coasted through this decade with new rappers, Plies and Rick Ross. And this December, Lucas isn’t just celebrating the holidays, he’s commemorating the 15th anniversary of his independent record label. The Miami native speaks with Billboard.biz about Slip-N-Slide’s start, how the label matured and what he’s planning for the future.
You say you began with a disaster – what happened?
I promoted a concert with Gerald LeVert, H-Town and R. Kelly at the Miami Arena. I was trying to take the bigger promoters out of the game. Except, I lost every dime I invested because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was sent home crying. I lost money over all kinds of little things like overtime, late fees, paying for towels, ice; it was all an initiation into the music business. I didn’t come out of the house for awhile.
After that expensive failure, you decided to start a record label?
I began in 1993 with Trick Daddy. He wanted to be a rapper so I was going to invest in him alone in the beginning, so I really have to give him a lot of credit. It was all booty shake music in Miami then and he wanted to be a thug, but it worked.
Trick’s first single “Gotta Change My Life” from “Based On A True Story” came out in 1995, and we were literally selling the CDs out of my trunk. We’d sell them at mostly at flea markets on the weekends and at a lot of mom-and-pop record stores. I have a plaque in my office that my former employee, Debbie Bennet, gave me. The plaque celebrates Slip-N-Slide entering the Billboard charts at No. 91. It was October 1997. That was the first time we ever had a record enter the Billboard charts. We had a party, I believe. Just entering the charts was the equivalent of selling platinum for us.
When did you begin to see a financial return on your investment into Trick Daddy?.
After we released Trick’s first album, I didn’t even need a major deal because we were making major money. I had employees going east and west from our Miami office picking up our money from “Based On A True Story” CD sales. Trick Daddy was paid $10,000 for a show off that first album, it was Trick and Master P headlining the concert.
How did Trina become part of your roster?
Trina was Trick’s brother Hollywood’s girlfriend. She was around with Trick and would always talk so loud and fast! Then Trick and Hollywood put her on the single, “Nann N***a,” and the rest was history. She was in real estate school at the time, but I remember saying, ‘Trina I know you didn’t plan on being a rapper, but they are booking you for shows.’ This was in 1997.
When were you introduced to Rick Ross?
With Rick Ross, I bought his contract from Tony Draper’s Suave House Records six or seven years ago. Ross wanted to rep where he was from, Miami, Florida, and I knew the talent that he had back then.
Later, after we got the best for his big single, “Hustlin'” from Mike Caren at Atlantic and it was blowing up on the radio, I saw Def Jam’s late executive VP Shakir Stewart in Miami. He said, ‘Ted I want to do this deal.’ I told him ‘this ain’t gonna be no cheap deal.’ Def Jam understood what it was worth and Shakir and I made some great progress in the last four years.
Slip-N-Slide released Plies’ third album, “Da REALest” on Dec. 15. He’s been a good investment, selling over 1 million albums to-date with his last two releases, “Definition of Real” and “The Real Testament,” according to Nielsen SoundScan. How’d he join Slip-N-Slide?
Plies called me, actually. He was a concert promoter in Fort Myers, Fla., where he’s from. He was promoting a Lil Flip show with him as the opener. Plies told me about the crowd’s reaction to his music, but when I got to the show, he said ‘I’m going to show you what I’m talking about.’ The crowd went crazy when he started performing, I never even saw Lil Flip come on. After he got off the stage, we shook hands and I told him we had a deal. I saw the vision.
What do you have on your release schedule for 2009?
We have Shonie, she’s an R&B singer with a song called “Can’t Let Go” featuring Fabolous that we’ll release soon. We’ve got the singer Qwote who’s got “808” featuring Plies. They’re both more on the pop side, which you’re not going to expect from Slip-N-Slide. Trina is coming back out around April or May, another Plies album in April and a Rick Ross LP in April.
What’s been Slip-N-Slide’s key to success in this declining music industry?
We’ve been able to start things from the street up and we make great music. With a lot of our music, people believe in the record and once it does reach the radio, it’s already championed in the streets because we promote it ourselves first.
What’s your advice to those starting an independent hip-hop label in this tumultuous business climate?
Learn the business from someone who’s familiar with the ins and outs because you can lose a lot of money trying to figure it out.
What does the Slip-N-Slide name signify?
I chose Slip-N-Slide because I always said, the music business slipped and let me in the game and I was going to slide to the top.