When Marc “L9” Freeman embraced Xavier “SPZRKT” Adams on stage after their rap group Movement of Truth’s final concert together with his eyes swelled up with tears, he didn’t know that they’d ultimately reunite on the record label STRT TRBL Music three years later.
“I love it,” L9 told Wade-O Radio on reuniting with SPZRKT.
Mickey Holm and Mike Luna, former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Collision Records, founded STRT TRBL Music (pronounced straight terrible) in late July. This past week, it signed L9 and SPZRKT (pronounced Spazzy Rocket) as its first two artists.
L9 and SPZRKT formed Movement of Truth at the age of 14 with friend and fellow rapper Elhae. Their chemistry wasn’t automatic. SPZRKT threw his computer chair at L9 and Elhae the first day that they met.
“It was midnight. I was trying to sleep and they were laughing at the top of their lungs, jumping up and down playing Xbox,” SPZRKT told Wade-O Radio. “I used to have anger problems.”
Numerous mixtapes later, Moment of Truth disbanded due to differences in sonic approach.
“They wanted to turn us into the Black Eyed Peas,” said L9.
Mickey connected with Luna through his previous role at Merchline where he helped create Collision’s storefront. After Mickey left Merchline to create his own clothing line, STRT TRBL, he reached out to Luna to partner with him in his effort to turn it into a record label. Luna, who had served as Collison’s COO since Swoope released the label’s debut album, “Wake Up,” like Mickey, dreamed of leading a label for years and agreed to join STRT TRBL.
“Mike felt that he needed to do something on his own accord,” Collision CEO Adam Thomason told Wade-O Radio.
James Nwobu will succeed Luna as Collision’s COO.
Mickey also manages Social Club. He built relationships with SPZRKT and L9 through them being members of the Social Club Misfit Gang Wolfpack (SCMGWP) collective. SPZRKT’s project “The Loner” and L9’s “Something Reckless” not only made Mickey a fan of their music, but inspired him to target them as STRT TRBL’s original artists.
Martymar and F.E.R.N. of Social Club haven’t signed with STRT TRBL—which runs its merchandising and booking—because, already under Mickey’s management, it doesn’t need to.
“Social Club won’t sign with a label because they don’t really need to sign to a label at this point in their career,” said Mickey. “The guys want to be the ones who hire rather than be hired. They have a good formula and will continue to do very well independently. Me being their manager gives them even less of a reason to sign because I am already working with them and I want them to succeed.”
Two other labels showed interest in SPZRKT, but STRT TRBL’s pitch to provide its artists with nearly unlimited freedom won him over. L9 sang the same tune and added that the fact that STRT TRBL’s vision paralleled his testimony.
“I feel like I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t understand the gospel completely, but I understand it enough to know that I’m horrible,” said L9. “I’m not a good person without Christ. Sometimes labels in the industry try to paint this perfect facade. We’re embracing our imperfections and everybody else’s imperfections. We’re all terrible, but with Christ we’re saved. [STRT TRBL] feels the same way I feel about everything.”