Sunday, December 25, 2011
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Joe Bataan talks to Oliver Wang about Ghetto Records
MORE INFO ABOUT IT AMAZING RECORDING WILL COME SHORTLY::
OLIVER: Tell me about Ghetto Records — you started it while you were still signed to Fania but not recording for them, right?
JOE: Yeah. I started Ghetto Records to show that it could ...be done. It was out of rebellion, of course, like most of my life was. That's when I became a threat to the industry, especially [to] Morris Levy with Roulette Records and Jerry Masucci of Fania.
OLIVER: What was the first album on Ghetto Records?
JOE: Paul Ortiz [Y La Orquesta So]. I produced them and Paul Ortiz became a big hit, because the guy sounded like me. I had a big hit with Oritz: "Tender Love."
OLIVER: This was sweet soul?
JOE: Very, very, very romantic cha-cha ballads, yeah.D
OLIVER: How many albums did you end up overseeing on Ghetto?
JOE: I think three: Ortiz, Papo Felix, and [Eddie] Lebron.
OLIVER: As in the Lebron Brothers?
JOE: No, totally separate.
OLIVER: If you were still signed to Fania, how did you manage to get distribution for your records? Couldn't Masucci have shut you down?
JOE: Yeah, he tried to put a wrench in it, but of course [the distributor] didn't care, as long as they could sell a record. I learned that in this business, if you're selling records, nobody cares, they'll take it. They'll probably get threatened by the other guy, but they'll sneak it, they'll take 100 [units] here, and 200 there.
OLIVER: Where did you get the capital to get this done?
JOE: I started the label with this guy who was a drug dealer, George Febo. Of course, I ain't ask where [the money] came from.
OLIVER: How did you know Febo?
JOE: Through the streets, like anybody else, you bump into one guy... We knew everybody in the streets. We knew the drug dealers, and the pimps... that was just a way of life, it was nothing strange about it.
OLIVER: What was Febo's interest in starting a label?
JOE: I think he just wanted popularity; his thing was just to be noticed, and a way to watch his money probably. Of course it backfired. When he got smart, he tried to ease me out of it...sort of bought me out. Like a lot of people, he took my ideas and decided to do it himself.
OLIVER: Did he continue to release records on the label?
JOE: Yeah, I think he had Candido, Richie Ray, and I think there were a couple other albums. He had some success, then it started folding. That's when he gave it back to me...it was sort of a setup because I didn't know the phones were tapped and all that. He was involved with a lot of drugs, and apparently he got hot and I think was under federal investigation. I wasn't involved [in the investigation], thank God.
OLIVER: Did you end up releasing more on Ghetto?
JOE: No, it was in total shambles financially. [Trying] to make ends meet without any capital was just too difficult.
[read this interview in its entirety at http: //waxpoetics.com/content/?article=bataa
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