After nearly of year of mysterious shoutouts from trap and reggaeton artists from Spain to California, Remezcla obtained an exclusive interview with the mysterious movers of new urban music label La Vendición, right before the release of the conglomerate’s first official collection of tracks. We spoke with the label’s leader under conditions of secrecy, via Skype. For the purposes of this interview, we’ll call them Head Honcho.
Essentially, the decision to create the new label came down to agility. They tried releasing their projects with a major label once (Sony), but they were better served following their own instincts. “It takes like seven months,” they say incredulously during our conversation. “The album is already out of style before it comes out. And production is so fast right now.” La Vendición’s vision of a release schedule is more in the style of prolific Cali rapper Lil B, who is a better touchstone for those creating rapid-fire viral internet content. That being said, the experience with Sony wasn’t for nothing. “It helped me to learn about that world, what it can offer you, the business,” Honcho says. “But it didn’t really convince me; it didn’t really suit me.”
Feeling a lack of quality Spanish indie labels, HH and their crew decided to take matters into their own hands. La Vendición puts out a collection of 12 tracks this month, but members of Spanish reggaeton squad La Mafia del Amor and other artists who have joined forces for the project have been representing the name for some time now, like signs of an Illuminati organization only decipherable to its members.
“We see music as la moda. We’re seeing it another way that the rest of the world probably doesn’t.”
“We see music as la moda,” Head Honcho says when asked about his vision for La Vendición. “We’re seeing it another way that the rest of the world probably doesn’t.” Though the name has already graced releases from associated artists like Los Sugus (or “Pxxr Gvng Babys,” as the foursome of teen emcees are sometimes referred to), La Vendición’s first official tracks are scheduled to come out during Madrid’s Fashion Week. Head Honcho talks about the label’s tactics for distribution as being something like a fashion brand’s. La Vendición plans on putting out “collections” of music, large batches of it, on a calendar that mimics high fashion. HH uses the word “seasons” repeatedly when he talks about how this will go down.
According to Head Honcho, affiliates of La Vendición have long been sought out by designers. Recently, La Mafia del Amor member Yung Beef took this association to the next level. He walked in high-profile runway shows at Paris Fashion Week — Pigalle and Hood By Air, at which he broke the heel on his tall vinyl boots — and appeared in a Calvin Klein campaign. But this kind of crossover is fast becoming the norm in the music industry. As anyone who bought Yeezy Boosts, or clocked Nicki’s navy mesh floor length and Ri’s parade of outfits at this year’s MTV VMAs could tell you, music and fashion are inextricably intertwined in 2016.
September marks fans’ first chance to see the real shape of the Vendición universe. In a track list leaked to Remezcla by Head Honcho, it’s clear that Spain’s trap scene will heavily represented on the roster, including Los Sugus, El Mini, Ms. Nina of the transcendent “Chupa Chupa” reggaeton single she made with Mexican producer Chico Sonido, Takers, Gypsy La Fe, and El Asesino 187 are among the other local names. La Mafia del Amor (PXXR GVNG’s reggaeton incarnation) will turn out a track as well.
But La Vendición will also be a sounding board for international artists. Pomona, California producer AC3 drops through for a track called “Fxxk Amor.” AC3 has previously teamed up with the Spanish reggaeton scene on a number of songs, including Kaydy Cain and Marko Italia’s sleek “Ride.” Another Californian, trap producer Fly Migo Bankroll, has already put in work with Pxxr Gvng on July’s “Mi Habito.”
La Vendición, as Head Honcho sees it, will be a finishing school for new players in the music industry. They want to transfer the knowledge they gained while working with major players to the artists on the label. And La Vendición wants up-and-coming artists to know they don’t need to sit around waiting for Universal or Sony to tap them — in 2016, it’s all about that DIY mission. This label, he says, is not about establishing an elite class of emcees. “Above all this is a project of gente normal,” Head Honcho says. “It’s not the work of a huge business. It’s homemade, to put it that way.”
HH sees the project as being akin to the label assembled by Mexico City’s NAAFI crew. He also cites the work Venus X has done with GHE20GOTH1K, as well as We Did It, the LA-based group that unites the efforts of Shlohmo, Ryan Hemsworth, and others, embodying a slightly more commercial version of the success La Vendición wants to achieve.
The label will be light on paperwork. “There won’t be any contracts signed because basically, La Vendición is going to be a platform for artists to distribute their music while remaining the owner of their masters,” HH says. “That just seemed to be the logical thing to do.”
“It may seem a little corny but our goal right now is to open people’s eyes,” they continue. “Before, releasing music had to do with your social class. Now you can do it with your passion. Poor people are making music.” Despite the high fashion connotations, that’s the kind of egalitarianism La Vendición wants to promote. “To teach people from the barrio that there’s another way of doing it.”