Long Cold Winter: Chapter Twenty-Five

1996. T-Bone stopped in with Lilianne to see Matt and Juanita. Seemed ‘T’ was settling down. And Lil was his pick. They made a great couple. T-Bone was a gentle soul, despite his gangsta style.

That was all an act. ‘T’, or Tyrell as he had been named by his mother, had never been in a gang. He had been a graduate of Yale. His parents had money out the wazoo. That had been his ticket into the business. Well, along with help from Matt.

Catherine and Darnell Bone were two of Matt’s oldest friends. They had been involved in the civil rights marches of the sixties, and rumors had it that they had been two of those who’d marched from Selma. Darnell, like Tyrell, had been well educated at a ‘black’ college. And this education had afforded him a ticket into the world of finance and banking. He had risen to the top rather quick after the civil rights movement.

Catherine was well educated too. She had opened her own store and had made a success of it, but had sold it when she married. With Darnell, she opened an accounting office in Midtown, then remained as sole owner after he entered the banking industry. It had served her well.

Tyrell had gone to Yale for a law degree, which he got with the best grades in his class. He had a plan, too. Once music ceased to be an income earner, he would become a lawyer. Possibly an entertainment lawyer.

And Matt supported his ten-year plan. But right now, T-Bone was riding high. But he was playing it safe. With the recent death of Tupac Shakur, He was being careful. there was jealousy brewing in the industry amongst the young upstarts. Tupac’s death had been the first signs of it.

MC Hammer was embroiled in bankruptcy and life changes. Vanilla Ice had lost favor over a ‘piracy’ concern in 1991. Those without violent messages were either being killed or ousted by being called a sellout or from copyright concerns. It seemed that the industry was sucking the life out of the scene.

Tyrell sat across from Matt. “I think it’s time, man. Too much bad stuff going on in the biz.”

Matt smiled grimly. “So what’s the plan?”

Tyrell shook his head. “I still want to produce, just not perform. I thought maybe you’d take on another partner. I will do entertainment law as well, possibly adding another aspect to your company. ever think of reopening your old label?”

Matt grinned. “The label has never been closed. Just on pause. I have been waiting for a legal department to offer their help.”

His friend nodded. “Then I am offering to set up your legal department. I know at least a dozen hungry young lawyers who are dying to get into the industry.”

He chuckled. “Then let’s get this puppy started. And you can oversee the hip hop and R&B. I’m no good with the younger set.”

T-Bone nodded in agreement. “Let’s put together the paperwork and get this going. The four of us. It’ll be a tight ship. No outside interference.”

Matt nodded. “I like.” He scribbled some information down and handed it to his friend. “Here is the particulars. We will each have a quarter interest in the business. We will meet over all issues. Signings. Possible policy changes. Whatever arises.”

Tyrell smiled. “Sounds good. I’ll go home and get right on this. We’ll set it up so that family will be given any position they might want. It’ll remain strictly a family business.”

Matt looked at his best friend. “We don’t have to worry about competing with the majors. It has always been able to do that. My own career has attested to that. As has Juanita’s and anyone else I had on the label in the past.”

His friend shook his hand. “Of course! You’ve always been known as someone who can turn any album into a platinum production. You have always had the touch. Hell. You produced most of my shit. It all went to the top. That is proof enough.”

Matt looked away. “My only question is this. should we reissue old stuff? I have always been reluctant to do so. I don’t know how well it’ll be accepted, or even if it will be.”

Tyrell looked at Matt. “I think we should, just in case your old fans are looking for your stuff. Maybe it will inspire a whole new generation of fans. And besides. Pops has been bugging me to get you to re-release your stuff. He’s been a fan of yours since before you had your own bands. Back when you were still a session musician. Bro. You won’t know how well something will take until you do it. Take the chance.”

So there it was. The challenge had been made. Not only was he going to reopen the label, but he was also going to re-release his complete catalog of music. Too bad he couldn’t release the stuff from his studio-only years. But that was all owned by the majors. And so were the songs he’d written for other musicians in the past. Except the 80s stuff. But the recordings were owned by the labels or the musicians.

With T-Bone’s help, he would get this dog and pony show on the road. But he also had two other partners. Juanita and Lilianne.

Lilianne looked at Matt. “I inherited Tim’s fortune, since he had no children and all. And the Mob didn’t want the money. I can help finance this in the name of us ladies.”

Mat looked at her. “Are you good at PR?”

She nodded. “Yes. And knowing a good sound when I hear one. I may not be able to carry a tune, but I can tell a good tune from a bad one.”

Matt smiled. “Then I will ask you to cover building the PR and A&R divisions. Juanita can help you if she wants. She’s good at both as well. I will focus on the creation of the final products.”

Juanita looked at Matt. “I agree. I will help Lil with the PR and A&R divisions. The four of us will bring this company into the forefront of the industry.”

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