By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
If you are a Miami native and you love hip-hop from the 305, then you know Slip-N-Slide Records. Named Best Independent Record Label by Miami New Times earlier this year, the company has sold more than 15 million records since its inception in 1993. That number should grow exponentially: In February 2006, the company's president and CEO, Ted "Touche" Lucas, signed a multimillion-dollar distribution deal with Def Jam.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, I head to Lucas's office, ostensibly to talk about upcoming Slip-N-Slide releases (from Plies, Trick Daddy, Trina, and Rick Ross), music videos, and his accomplishments as head of his own empire. (In 2001, Vibe magazine recognized him as a "Major Player in the Game," and for four consecutive years The Source magazine listed him in its "Top Power 30.")
His headquarters are discreet. Nestled on a quiet residential corner in Miami Beach, an entire dark green and yellow house has been converted into the Slip-N-Slide fortress. In the waiting area, I sit anxiously on a large blue couch and sip a complimentary energy beverage until Lucas's assistant Kai waves me over.
I'm led through reception, past a recording studio, past a framed poster of Slip-N-Slide artist Trina with Lil Jon, past walls of CDs, T-shirts, and boxes. Through another hallway, down some stairs, and past employees sitting in front of their computers is Lucas's office, so large it's equipped with its own bathroom. On the wall behind his desk hangs a painting of a bronze-skinned Jesus tending sheep. A diamond-encrusted cross dangles from the CEO's gold necklace. As we shake hands, I spot on his desk an enormous hardcover Bible, opened to the Book of Proverbs.
"You read the Bible?" Lucas asks as a cell phone on his desk rings. "Let me take this call; it's Trina's manager." He hangs up the phone and looks at me. "Talk to me, Jason." I finish the energy drink as I sit down in front of the desk. "Relax. You want another energy beverage?" I decline. "How about some water?" Lucas insists. He pushes a button on his landline phone. "Bring me two cold bottles of water," he directs Kai.
There is no computer in his office; spread atop his desk are two cell phones (one for family, one for business), a BlackBerry he uses for e-mail, a landline speaker phone, and that enormous hardcover Bible. Nearby there are dumbbells on the floor. The walls are festooned with gold records, photos of his wife and kids, a large-screen TV set playing MTV2 on mute, and a wooden cross over the window. Ted, as he insists I call him, is now on two phones simultaneously. "Did we tell Trick Daddy $15,000? His manager is sayin' 25...." He looks up and apologizes as I sip water and watch R. Kelly on the TV. When Ted gets off the phones, he asks me how I'm doing. I tell him his publicist has been ambiguous about this interview, but I wanted to meet him; this interview will be about whatever he wants it to be about.
"You know this whole interview is gonna be about God." He laughs and then continues, "I'm not doing God's will if I don't tell you the truth. We gonna pray before you leave, so don't worry about that." I tell him I'm cool with it. "God has a lot in store for you. You know that, right?" Ted makes direct eye contact with me in the completely silent office. "When you walked in, you asked me what I want out of this interview. This is what I want: If I can save somebody's soul, or let somebody know that that rap label, who they thought or what they thought it was, and they gonna get Jesus out of it, that's the most important thing I ever need. God is happy with me right now because I am connecting."
Ted talks about his missionary work. "I've gone inside crack houses, told them about Jesus as they blow out the smoke. One time one of them had a heart attack and I called an ambulance." He stops, smiles, and silences the buzzing BlackBerry. "I tell you, there's nothing like a beating from the Lord. There's no other beating I experienced worse than that. He is gonna break you down, until you know that there is nothing that you can do to fix it."
He takes a deep breath and continues, recounting one such incident when God showed him who's boss. "I have a million-dollar deal on the table and I'm about to close ... and it don't close. God is saying, 'That wasn't for you.'" Ted raises his voice. "I'm like, 'What you mean? What are you talking about that wasn't for me?'" He stands up, raising his arms in the air for emphasis. "'We right here to close and it's ready to get done. I'm getting ready to make a million dollars! What are you talking about?'" He sits back down. "Man! I used to get upset. I felt like I had the power. But if God don't want it to happen, it is not going to happen. I had to learn that the hard way. But I learned it, you know?"