interview LULU (BYI ENTERTAINMENT) (September 2007)| Interview By: Eddie Gurrola

Dubcnn recently caught up with the CEO of B.Y.I. Entertainment, Lulu, for an exclusive feature about the music industry. As owner of the label that is home to Omar Cruz and producer Rome, Lulu made headlines earlier this year by signing a 50/50 joint venture deal with Geffen & Interscope Records for Omar Cruzís upcoming debut album ďThe Sign Of The Cruz.Ē In this interview, Lulu tells us about how he first formed his company, his motivation behind doing so, and the steps he took to make it happen.

He lets us in on many secrets about major label tactics, and also gives detailed advice to young artists on how to get the attention of record companies. If you are interested in the music industry at all, this article is a must-read.

As always we have both the transcript and the audio for you to check and please feel free to send any feedback regarding the interview to: eddie@dubcnn.com

Interview was done in September 2007.

Questions Asked By :
Eddie Gurrola

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Dubcnn: Weíre here with Lulu, the CEO of B.Y.I. Entertainment. Howís it going today?

Itís fine. Iím enjoying this nice weather out here in Southern California. Itís beautiful out here today!

Dubcnn: Letís talk about the label, B.Y.I. Entertainment. Youíve got Omar Cruz and the producer Rome on the label. Tell us about how you formed the company in the first placeÖ

I formed the company probably five years ago. With me being in the industry for about seven years, I didnít see [any] outlets for Latinos to try to take that next step, which is to get on a major [and] try to actually get heard all over the world in the right way. I knew people who worked at the different labels, and [they] were always confused on how to market Latino artists. They didnít know [which] route to take. One of the main problems was that there were no Latino entrepreneurs, Latino CEOs, or Latino labels that were actually in the position to give [another] Latino the opportunity.

So I just decided to form a company that could open the door for Omar and Rome, [and] for all the young kids that are in high school and junior high that have dreams of becoming artists or having their own label. [I want them to] have somebody that they can look up to and say, ďYou know, he looks just like me. He came from exactly where I come from.Ē I just [want to] give inspiration to our people. I think we need more people hired at labels - more Omars, more Romes, more Lulus out here just to show the next generation out here that we can do it. Thereís no reason why we canít own labels. Why canít we be the next Roc-A-Fella, the next Aftermath, the next Jay-Z, the next Russell Simmons, and the next Dr. Dre?

Dubcnn: Definitely! So, how did you go about putting the label together when you first started?

[When I] first started man, I had to get my legal stuff right first before anything! Thatís the advice I give everybody. But I knew some lawyers, and I just wanted to get my company incorporated, and I went through the whole procedure of doing that, and doing that the right way - not going to paralegals and trying to do it that way. [In] this up-and coming game, if I was going to be respected, I had to have the right team. So I had to get these lawyers that I trusted to form the company. And then I just started.

You know being in LA, being in the streets all the time, a lot of people always used to ask me, ďYo, can I get my demo to you?Ē because at that time I was working with The Clipse a lot. I used to help The Clipse get some shows out here, and just take care of a lot of West Coast stuff for them. So a lot of people would give me demos, and I was always looking for a Latino artist. Itís not easy to find a Latino artist that I feel can take that step. So I was grinding out there, looking [and] asking people. One person led to another person and thatís just the way I went about it.

I was working with other artists, and it just didnít work out the way I wanted it to work out. I just kept my head up and kept moving on to the next artist, [to] see what we could do. Iím not over here trying to rape people with their publishing or nothing like that. Most of the time, the way I work is, you come to the studio, and if I like the way you rap or whatever, letís get down on some music first - because the music has to be right, before anything. If it sounds right, then we can sit down and letís talk business. If itís not there, thereís nothing to talk about. You canít keep the lights on if the music ainít makiní no sense.

Dubcnn: That sounds like a good way to approach things. So you signed a 50/50 deal with Geffen and Interscope. Was that for all of B.Y.I.ís future projects, or was that just for Omar Cruzís album?

No, that was just for the Omar Cruz project [ďThe Sign Of The Cruz.Ē] Like I said, my lawyers are good - theyíve got a lot of knowledge under their belt. Actually, Interscope and Geffen wanted to give me a label deal, but they werenít really gonna give me a lot of money because I didnít sell independently. B.Y.I. as a label never sold records independently. We give out mixtapes, we never sold [our releases.] So when we went over there, at first they were like ďOhÖĒ Then they came with the whole label deal, and my lawyer was like, ďWe donít want the label deal because theyíre gonna give us crumbs. We havenít proven ourselves yet.Ē

So they said, ďLetís work out a 50/50 deal, and letís see how it works out. Letís partner up for Omarís project.Ē When Omar does well, then me as a CEO can go to Universal, Def Jam, whoever I want, and go get a label deal. Then I can get some real money, instead of them trying to give me a little bit of something. So I just decided to go ahead and do the 50/50 joint venture deal with Interscope/Geffen, and weíll see how this works out with Omarís first album.

The way itís looking right now, itís great. Hands down, buzz is hot right now. In the streets, everybodyís coming up to [us.] Latinos are appreciative of what weíre doing for the culture. [They talk about] Omar being the best, Rome being the best, [and] B.Y.I. being the best. Itís about B.Y.I. opening doors for other Latino labels to come up and try to get those deals. So if Omarís album does well, B.Y.I. is going to get a big label deal, whether itís with Interscope, Def Jam, Sony, [or] Warner Brothers, weíre going to get a major label deal with a lot of money.

Dubcnn: For the Omar Cruz album, are you going to be able to control the sound of itÖ

Thatís the beautiful thing about my lawyers. My lawyers worked it where B.Y.I. controls how this album sounds. We pick what weíre gonna put on the album. Itís our decision. Itís 50/50 Ė itís a partnership, but really Interscope and Geffen come in more on getting the record out there, and marketing and promotion of the record. In regard to making the record, thatís where we come [in.] We understand our culture. I donít think those labels understand what type of music Latinos want to hear. Most of the time, theyíve had other artists and they donít know what direction to take them [in.] B.Y.I., at the end of the day, is a self-contained unit and we move together as one. We make the records we want to make, we have our own street team, and we have our own publicist. We do everything ourselves.

They just come in when the record is done. When the single is ready to go off, thatís when the big machine comes in with all the contacts they have, and we go on every single radio station. But making music? No. We make music the way we want to make it. The way our fans have [enjoyed] what weíve been doing from day one, itís [obviously] been working. If it wasnít working, then they would have a reason to say thatís not working. But they see that itís working. They see all the mixes weíre putting out, they see the responses, they see Omar in all these magazines. They see Rome working with other artists like Rick Ross right now. Too Short, Mistah FAB, Fat Joe, and all these other artists are calling to get Rome beats. They see the movement. They see that weíre doing nothing wrong. This isnít a ďbackyard boogieĒ record label, this is a real official label thatís going the right way.

So to answer your question, the music comes from us. It doesnít come from Geffen or Interscope. We picked the producers that we wanted to go into the studio with - the Cool & Dres, the J.R.s, the Hi-Teks - we wanted to see how Omar was going to sound with them. It worked with some, and it didnít work with others. Iím not saying that those producers werenít good, but it just didnít work for the sound that we were looking for. We already had our own B.Y.I. sound. Rome already developed that before we went to Interscope, so weíre gonna stay with that sound. Thatís the B.Y.I. sound, thatís the sound that we have. We have that street, Latino music that when you listen to it, youíre gonna be likeÖyouíre gonna let your mom listen to it, and your momís like ďYo, I know where they got that from!Ē Thatís what we bring to the table. Just like Dre brought all that other music, like the James Brown samples, The Brothers Johnson, and all that funk that he brought to West Coast music. This is what weíre bringing to hip-hop.

Dubcnn: With you being a business man, and at the same time wanting everyone to be as creative as possible, what is the best way to find that balance?

Oh man, thatís easy. Iíve been in the game for seven years, going on eight now. When something thatís really good comes, you can just feel it. Itís just that good feeling. You know when the records are hot. You know exactly when that record is hot. You play it, [and] you just see peoplesí faces scrunge up. Itís that record, you know what Iím sayiní? Of course I have a lot of decisions that I make because I am the CEO of B.Y.I. and I also manage Omar and I manage Rome, and I keep all of that intact.

But itís really more like family. Nobodyís feelings are going to get hurt over here. If I tell you that something is not that hot, itís just not that hot. Nobody gets hurt, you just go on to the next one. Itís just that that record might not be good for Omar, or that beat might not have been for Omar. It might work for somebody else. But creatively, [B.Y.I. artists] get in there. Rome gets in there and does his thing. I donít sit there and tell him how to make beats. He does what he does best, and then he lets me listen to it, and I might need to tell him itís hot or itís not hot. Heís not gonna cry about it, weíre gonna work, and weíre gonna go until we got that feeling like ďYo, that record is crazy!Ē

Thatís just the way we go about music. There are no ďyesĒ people around us. People are honest, and Iím one of the most honest people you can find. Iím gonna tell you [if] this shit is hot, or if itís not, whether you like it or not. Thatís just my personality, and thatís what theyíre used to. If we need this shit on the record, Iím gonna tell you.

If you look at our mixtapes, thatís the way we approach [them] all. All of our mixtapes had a lot of original music on there, and we just push hot shit man. Our motto is [that] we donít do album fillers. We want you to listen to everything on the record. We donít believe in album fillers. We [say] ďLetís put the hottest records on this album.Ē [For] Omarís [new] album, weíve done 90 records. Thatís the way we go about it. Thereís no album fillers at B.Y.I., [just] good music on our albums.

Dubcnn: Thatís a great motto to have! Are you going to be signing any other artists to BYI soon?

Yeah! Being one of the only Latino labels that has a deal with a major, I get artists left and right giving me demos, from girl singers to girl rappers to guy groups and guy solo artists. I definitely am looking for artists, but youíve got to understand, I want B.Y.I. as a company to compete with Aftermath, Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam and all these big labels, [so] Iíve got to find the hottest shit man. Iím here for my people, B.Y.I. is for our people, but that doesnít mean that Iím gonna open the door and let anybody come in just because theyíre Latino. At the end of the day, youíve got to be hot.

Right now, weíre putting a group together, two rappers coming out with that straight heat! You know, [like] that Dogg Pound, DPG old school albums, [and] the Clipse records. Thatís the next thing Iím putting together, just two hot dudes thatís just straight raw and gangsta.

Dubcnn: Whatís the name of that group?

We donít have a name [yet.] I have one artist, and Iím looking for the next one to put in the group. Iím also talking to other artists. Iíve got a female rapper Iím talking to right now, and Iíve got an R&B group that weíre about to put together too. But Iím not looking for Menudo! Whoever wants to sign Menudo, they can keep Menudo. We do street music over here, so Iím looking for those kids that come from LA, that come from that street, soul music that are R&B singers. Thereís a lot of stuff that weíve got going on. I just canít saturate the market like that with every single artist that comes over here, or sends me a demo, because thatís not the type of label that Iím trying to be.

Iím not trying to have 100 artists on my label. Iím trying to have the best of the best, whether youíre a female rapper, or an R&B guy, you come over here to B.Y.I. and you know that youíre really going to have to step up to the plate. Thatís just the way that this label is going to be formed. Itís not going to [have] 100 ďOKĒ rappers. Iím going to have the best out of the best.

Dubcnn: Since youíve been in the music industry for a while, what advice would you give to young people that are trying to get in?

I recommend they do everything thatís possible to get their name out there. I recommend you call Eddie, Nima, [and] try to find out how to get an article on Dubcnn and get a buzz going for yourself. And you should never go to a label. A label should always come to you. If you go to a label, that means youíre begging, youíre asking. That means theyíre not giving you nothing, because youíre going to them. Now, if they want to start coming to you, youíre doing something right. Get a buzz. Do whatever youíve got to do to get a buzz, and drop good quality music.

I respect peoplesí hustles. A lot of people out here definitely have a strong hustle, but their music is horrible. If your music is great, itís going to outshine a lot of people. So if your hustle and your music is right, youíve got nothing to lose. Iím coming for you! Believe me, I look everyday. I listen to every demo. People hit me up on the B.Y.I. Myspace, they hit up Rome on his Myspace, they hit Omar on his Myspace Ė I listen to all that stuff homie! Iím in the club, I listen to everything. Iím trying to get the hottest things. When you think B.Y.I., I want you to think, ďYo, I want to be on B.Y.I.!Ē just like people say ďI want to be on Def Jam,Ē [or] ďI want to be on Aftermath.Ē Thatís what B.Y.I. is here for. So I suggest you get a buzz and you let me come find you, instead of you trying to come find me.

Thatís my advice for artists. You know, go do mixtapes, try to get on Dubcnn, be on the forums, get that Myspace thing crackiní, go in the streets, drop off your mixtapes to the Compton swap meet, wherever you can go, drop them off! And stop trying to charge for everything man! Stop trying to charge for every little mixtape you drop. Just give it out for free man, get your buzz up. Let people come up [like] ďOh, youíre so and so!Ē Then youíre doing stuff right. But a lot of kids out here, they just think ďIím gonna do a mixtape, and Iím gonna try to get 10-15 dollars for it.Ē I respect that, but nobody knows who you are, so get your buzz up before you start trying to charge.

Dubcnn: Who would want to buy that anyway?

Exactly, whoís going to buy it? Thereís a lot of kids out here man. If you see me in the streets, Iím gonna tell you, B.Y.I. is a label [that] came from the streets. Nobody over here was balliní. We all came from the same apartment buildings that all these other Latino kids from LA came from - one bedroom apartments with ten people in that shit, and Iím proud of that. Thatís where I come from. Thatís how B.Y.I. was built. If you see me in the street, donít try to charge me for your mixtape man, especially if you donít have a name. Go ahead and just give it to me! Give it to Rome, give it to Omar, you should just give us the mixes.

Iím listening to it man. I donít turn down material. If itís hot, youíre going to get a phone call. Iím going to reach out to you. But youíve got to get out there, youíve got to build a buzz, build a team for yourself, [and] thatís how you get it. A lot of kids think they can just do it the other way. Making a demo and trying to send it to a label? Those days are over with man. The labels are not developing artists no more man. The best thing for you to do is go up to a label that has a distribution or a label deal through a major label, because that label is more likely to develop you to be a good artist. The labels donít know what theyíre doing no more Ė theyíre lost. The internet has killed that game.

My advice is to get on your grind man. When I mean get on your grind, make sure that everything is on point. Come out with everything Ė [not until] your lyrics are ready, your beats are ready, your artwork is ready, your Myspace is ready, when everything is ready. Donít just send inÖI have people sending in demos over here with no contact info, with a blank CD. No more man, step your game up! You could at least get a Sharpie and put your phone number or something! So my advice is to get your game up and build a buzz, even if itís only in your own neighborhood. Build that buzz. That travels. After you build it in your neighborhood, go to the next city and build that buzz. Thatís how you get the Dr. Dre's coming at you, and the B.Y.I.s coming at you, thatís how you get that man!

But at the end of the day, make sure that music is good. A lot of people are listening to music, now that people have internet and files can travel real easily, a lot of people are hearing music. So if youíre ready, and you put out a freestyle and itís not that good, that little freestyle is gonna get all over, and thatís a representation of you. So represent yourself right.

Dubcnn: Thatís definitely some great advice, and I hope that everyone reads that over and over again. Thank you for that.

No problem man! Iím here. Iím an LA kid, I love LA, I love Latinos, thatís what weíre here for. Iím here for us. B.Y.I. Ė Rome, Lulu, Omar Ė we are what you are. Guatemalan, Salvadorian, Mexican, Colombian, Nicaraguan, whatever, thatís what we are. Weíre Latinos Ė weíre here for you! At the end of the day, when the police pull me over, they donít know that Iím Guatemalan. They look at me, and they see a brown face. So I represent Latinos as all - every Latino out there.

Dubcnn: Is there anything else you want to say to everyone on Dubcnn?

Get readyÖget ready for the takeover man! B.Y.I. is here, we ainít going nowhere. They let us in the door, [and] weíre taking advantage of everything. Youíll see us on Dubcnn every damn week, youíre gonna see us in every magazine, youíre gonna listen to us on the radio. Get ready. I hope people didnít think that we were joking, that this was just some gimmick. But weíre ready to compete with Def Jam, ready to compete with Aftermath - Iím ready to compete with whoever wants to compete. Weíve got our guns ready, and weíre going full force and weíre not stopping.

Iím gonna go get the best out of the best artists out there. Weíre here for you Ė hit me up on the Myspace, you can hit up Rome, you can hit up Omar, just hit us up. Weíre here, Iím in the streets, Iím in the clubs, Iím in the Compton swap meet, Iím in the Pico swap meet, Iím in the Westside, you can find me everywhere, in every alley, in every liquor store, so itís not hard to find us. Iím here, I love the West Coast, weíre representing Latinos to the fullest, itís our turn, and letís just take over man! Itís our time homie.

Thank you to all the fans thatís been supporting us from day one. Thank you to Elliot (aka SGV,) who originally gave us that first interview on Dubcnn. Thank you to him for breaking us. I donít think that he knew what he was doing when he first did that interview, but here we are now two years later, and the buzz is big! Our buzz is not only in California either. Weíre in New York, weíre in Miami, shout out to Cool & Dre in Miami, shout out to the whole Miami area, and everyone in New York, Chicago, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, the Midwest. Weíre here for you, weíre ready, and Iím ready to compete.

I love competition, and to everybody that has a label, we love friendly competition. And to all the haters, keep on hating because youíre making us that much bigger. Dubcnn exclusive, all day every day. Omarís street single is on the radio, request it. I know a lot of people always get mad because of what theyíre playing on the radio Ė donít be mad, [just] request your favorite artist! Request Omar Cruz on Power 106, on KDAY, on 96.3 Latino, on any station go request it. Donít be mad, just make a change. Weíre here for you man!



LuLu Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio : Here


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