Going from dirty clothes to filthy rich isn't easy, but Fort Myers' Pretty Boy Gangsta has done it by traversing Alligator Alley to Miami for more than a decade.
The rapper whose brother built the label and studio that made Plies famous is about to star in his own MTV music video.
Working with his own Loaf of Bread Records, local superproducers Cool N Dre, PBG has set the stage for a new era in representing South Florida in mainstream gangsta rap. Here's what he had to say about unity in the community, expensive trees, and being locked up with T.I.
Crossfade: What's up, PBG? I hear you've been working on new material with Cool N Dre. What's the name of your label?
PBG: Loaf of Bread.
How'd you get started?
I'ma be real with you. I started back in like 2001 when I was 19 years old. My brother had caught a bid for 15 years. He was in music first. His name is Beno Lamamba. I was the littlest brother. He went in on a whole other level on some trafficking, assault, and battery on a law enforcement officer. It was a big case in Fort Lauderdale. He went to trial, and I seen that. He was doing music in Fort Myers way back before anybody. Plies was coming to my brother's studio and recording, and that's how he got signed to Slip-N-Slide Records. Next thing you know, he caught that time and I felt it was my time to step up to the plate.
What was your first move?
I got into promotion. You have to understand, I'm a real entrepreneur. I have multiple businesses. I own salons, barbershops; I do real estate just to name a few. I'm not even out to pull my own coattail; it's just the truth. So I got into promotion. Visual Enterprises Incorporated was the first company I started. We brought Nelly and Ludacris down to Fort Myers Teco Arena with like 8,000 people back when he first came out with "What's Your Fantasy."
And then you went into making music?
Yeah, I hooked up with Ronnie Tape, a forefather of the music industry in Fort Myers. He had three kids by my dad's sister. We went into production on our own. I had cousins that make beats, the same cousins that were making beats with my brother at Fort Town Records. My cousins did a lot of records for Fort Town Records, like "Fix It" and "Tell Them Crackas That" by Plies. That's how it all started.
How'd you get into putting records out on yourself?
I went to Atlanta on the advice of Ronnie Tape and got a studio out of Guitar Center in 2002. I dropped my own EP with five songs, and a couple of those took off from Naples to Sarasota and Port Charlotte, even Orlando. And then we knew we had something. I did a birthday bash with Webby and Plies. We dropped a song, called "Big Ball" and the whole crowd went crazy, and with the community behind us, I knew we had it. And now it's just a matter of isolating and capitalizing on the talent and showing the world what we got to bring to the table as far as music.
How did it all come together?
Coach is the number-one guy in Florida for booking shows. I hooked up with Coach, and next thing you know, we in Houston recording with Mannie Fresh, the producer from Cash Money Millionaires. We in the studio and everybody is captivated by my ability to come up with hooks and things of that nature.
PBG and Dre from Cool N Dre
What did you record?
I dropped two records, "Clap Your Hands" and "Loose Lips Sink Ships" with Plies, both produced by Mannie Fresh. I got a ringtone deals off that back when MySpace was poppin'. Then I started building relationships in Miami around 2003.
How did that come about?
I was in Ozone magazine and in any and every other publication that I could get involved in and put my music out. From there, I got down with Circle House, and that's when I met Pleasure P and Cool N Dre while I was working on my EP that was droppin' which was featuring both of those artists. And that's how me and Dre hooked up. We had a song on my EP called "Gotta Blow." I was still fuckin' around on the street level though, and that's when the shit hit the fan.
Guess what, I got caught up in a situation in Miami, and now I'm lookin' at a life sentence. I'd been living there for years. I always kept a place in Miami. I got into some trouble, got good lawyers, four of them to be exact, and suddenly what I was facing went from life, to 30 years, to ten years, to three years. So I jumped on that and ended up going to prison during the same time that T.I. was incarcerated. We did time together at Forrest City Federal Prison in Forrest City, Arkansas. Same dorm and everything. We were the two knownest people there, from being in magazines and everything. We knew each other from the bricks. It is what it is. I'm not saying I'm the best artist on my label, but guess what, I'm always looking for the best.
How has it been since you got out of prison?
I been doing turkey drives and toy drives in my community, and bringing in celebrities like Cool N Dre and many more people. We got so many football stars from here it's a shame. Deion Sanders is from Fort Myers. He's a hall of famer. My thing is to bring unity our community.
How does Miami fit into your playbook?
Cool N Dre, Circle House, E Class and Ted Lucas, Luis Diaz from the Diaz Brothers. If it wasn't for Miami there would be no PBG.
So you travel between here and Fort Myers?
I take that I-75, Alligator Alley. That's my route. I'm there in 'bout an hour and a half. We South Florida. But it's South West. Fort Myers is called the City of Palms. We got the coconut, the starfruit, the bananas, and do you know how much them Royal Palms cost? Them ain't no cheap trees. Trees is money. And don't forget, that's how they make those dollar bills.
What do you have with Cool N Dre?
We got over 100 records with me and my camp and those guys. We're gettin ready to shoot the video for my first single, and my labelmate's first single. It's gonna be short film videos showing the hood and the overall love and respect and greatness my community views us in.
What DJ's are you working with?
DJ Khaled is fuckin' with us and hosting my second mixtape. DJ Nasty from 99 Jamz and DJ Epps from 103.5 the Beat, and of course DJ Quest from 105.5 The Beat in Fort Myers. Miami is the Mecca right now in Florida, and I'm glad to be a part of it. Where I'm from, I'm on top of everybody and I control 70% of the market for everything there.
You said your family were music pioneers?
My brother founded the first label to be incorporated in Fort Myers. That was Fort Town Records, and that's where everybody came from. If it wasn't for my brother I wouldn't have been in music. He was the force that drove me to continue on this path. I have another brother who was on some righteous but ruthless type music too way back in the day. His name is Bocka Bocka. And right now I'm sitting in a beautiful position. I thank God tremendously for my freedom, my mind, and my soul. Everything is intact and now we're ready to attack.
What is Loaf of Bread Records?
We about feeding the family, staying trendsetters, and bringing unity to our communities. We wanted our name to be different. That was on purpose. Cause everybody in the world know what a loaf of bread is. It's a blessin' cause we went through years of obtaining cash money in these dirty streets. And now it's truly a blessing to be able to write and pass checks to our staff, LOB.
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How'd you get your name?
The way I look I got from my mom and dad. It's in my genes. The girls always called me pretty boy growing up, but guess what, the streets called me gangsta. It's two names that's the opposite and I'm like this motherfucker the best of both worlds. I'm respected as a G, but I look good too. People get shot and killed every day where I'm from, and I thank God I never been scratched, and I been able to stay Pretty Boy at the same time and keep my Gangsta relevant. That's all I know. Niggas respect my gangsta, and the females love how I look.