Rising to the Top

Miami producers Cool & Dre make their mark with Epidemik Records

Meanwhile Cool & Dre used the attention from Jealous Ones Still Envyto attract their own roster of artists. They had kept in touch with Jo-Vicious, who had since changed his name to Dirtbag. Together, the three assembled an impressive eleven-song demo, The Last of the Bad Men. Cool & Dre shopped the CD around the industry, eventually winning the attention of virtually every major label before signing a two-million-dollar deal with Jive Records for the duo's new label, Epidemik Records.

Jive quickly arranged for Dirtbag to drop a verse on Monica's collaboration with Missy Elliott, "Get It Off." Even though the song was never officially released as a single, it spread quickly throughout the rap world with the blessing of Miami's influential DJ Khaled and other mixshow DJs. Dirtbag's unique drawl soon had clubgoers across the country lip-synching, "Listen, baby, I'm a Dirtbag." His debut album, slated for a mid-April release, is scheduled to feature hip-hop stars 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, and Fat Joe. As the album's executive producers, Cool & Dre provided the majority of the tracks, and also enlisted the help of other heavyweight producers like David Banner, Jazze Pha, Timbaland, and fellow North Miami Senior High School graduate Red Spyda.

After Dirtbag's album comes out, Cool & Dre plan to focus on a May release for Tony Sunshine, who is now signed to Epidemik Records. After many years of paying dues, these newly minted executives are confident that they've got a perfect situation for 2004. "We got the biggest label deal of 2003," Dre says excitedly. "We're gonna do it real big this year."

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