Two months ago, Armando Christian Perez received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It was a reward for transforming from chico on the mean streets of Little Havana to Mr. Worldwide. The man known as Pitbull has sold 6 million albums and built up a $50 million net worth.
"To me it's never been about money or fame. It's about a journey," he told a crowd that gathered for the ceremony. "It's what the American dream is and embodies...First we clean the houses; then we own every house on the block."
That speech, from a guy I discovered, inspired me to reopen my label, Luke Records. I want to create opportunities for other bona fide rappers and music artists from South Florida who are not getting the representation they deserve.
Miami has a formidable stable of artists who have the potential to become the next Pitbull, the next Trick Daddy, or the next Trina. However, they don't have the infrastructure or knowledge to distribute their music to the world. Everybody is waiting for DJ Khaled and Rick Ross to discover them. Unfortunately, those guys only want to rub shoulders with Drake, Kanye West, P. Diddy, and all of those out-of-town rappers.
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Luke Records was built on local talent. In addition to Pitbull, we had Trick Daddy, Poison Clan, and Disco Rick, to name a few. What's more, Luke Records is a full-fledged record label. It handles everything from manufacturing of albums to marketing so songs get airplay on local radio. Labels such as Maybach Music Group and Cash Money Records are more like production houses that are subsidiaries of the corporate record companies.
In the coming weeks, I'll announce the signings of two local rappers. I'll round out the roster with two other artists by the end of the year.
Trust me — I didn't plan to come out of semiretirement. I thought I would just kick back and enjoy the money coming in from the few performances I do a year and the royalties and licensing from my music catalog for commercials, TV shows, and movies.
This is not about making money. It's about restoring respect for South Florida artists and our music.