New York City is the birthplace of many record labels. Several of them were conceived in basements in Brooklyn and The Bronx. A few have produced the biggest stars in pop music.
GMG Mafia Entertainment, based in The Bronx, is hoping to join the list of breakout labels like Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boys and Def Jam. It is operated by Jamaicans Raheem Williams and Kwame Williams, known as rappers Fully Top Dolla and Youngy Never Bummy, respectively.
Officially launched three years ago, the company has a roster of dancehall and hip hop artists, all of whom have Jamaican heritage. Though not related, both Williams are from Portmore, a sprawling community on the outskirts of Jamaica’s capital Kingston. Fully Top Dolla, 24, migrated to the United States in 2005; Youngy Never Bummy, four years older, moved there in 2002.
Both got their musical start in Portmore which has produced dancehall artists such as Mad Cobra, Frisco Kid and Vybz Kartel. When they started recording, they wanted to do so on their own terms.
“I always wanted to be on a label, but I wanted to be a CEO like Li’l Wayne and Kanye West. I wanted my own thing,” said Fully Top Dolla, whose latest song is “Mash it Up Again” with veteran reggae singer Junior Reid.
Youngy Never Bummy was weaned on hip hop and dancehall, and pursued a recording career shortly after moving to the U.S. GMG Mafia Entertainment is also pushing his current song, “Worry,” but he also finds time to promote other acts on the label such as deejay D. Ras and rapper Keno OG.
Getting a break in the competitive Big Apple music scene is not easy.
“The biggest challenge is getting the music played in the clubs and on the radio by the top DJs and building that fan base, but the most satisfying thing is when we put in work and see the progress,” said Youngy Never Bummy.
‘Mash It Up Again,” “Worry” and “Herb Trees” by D. Ras are getting steady rotation in the New York underground, as well as New Jersey and Philadelphia which are GMG Mafia Entertainment’s best markets.
The company has a five-member staff including marketing and promotions departments. Youngy Never Bummy doubles as CEO while Fully Top Dolla is also the audio engineer and graphics designer. While Fully Top Dolla hopes the big hit is just around the corner for GMG Mafia Entertainment, he and Youngy Never Bummy never stress about making the charts.
“Whenever the mood hit us, we make music. That’s the way it has always been, so people getting music from the heart.”