Russell Colvin Jr., aka Kawtion, is doing what all music execs do before a big release: He's replying to emails, sending out faxes, scheduling interviews, and promoting, promoting, promoting. The project he's working on is a new maxi single from the late MC Breed. It's the Flint native's first posthumous release since his death in 2008 of kidney failure and his first overall since 2004's The New Prescription.
"I was getting all my legal paperwork in order," Colvin says. "I had to get permission from Breed's father and his second-oldest daughter to release his music."
The project has also seen its share of interference.
"Since [Breed's] death, one particular woman was claiming she owned rights to his music," Colvin says.
That woman is "Natasha Breed," the mother of three of Breed's five children. She has several YouTube interviews explaining that she is the widow of MC Breed and that she plans to release his music, adding that she hasn't received any money from his album sales since his death.
"I want the world to know that MC Breed has never been married," Colvin says. "So all those rumors are false." (Our attempts to reach Natasha Breed were unsuccessful.)
In theory, MC Breed was hip-hop's first heavyweight from the Midwest. His 1991 single Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin' made him a star, and 1993's Gotta Get Mine (featuring 2Pac) made him an icon. His 13 solo albums sold millions and left a litany of club hits and notable singles. He was a Rust Belt powerhouse well before Bone Thugs-n-Harmony emerged from Ohio, before Twista and Common blew up Chi-town, and before Eminem and Kid Rock became the face of Detroit hip-hop.
Detroit is ornamented with billboards, murals, and graffiti dedicated to deceased hip-hop artists like J Dilla, Big Proof, and Blade Icewood. But the mystic allure that's enhanced their legacies has somehow eluded Breed.
"[Breed] wasn't from the Awesome Dre era [or] the Hip-Hop Shop era," says hip-hop historian Khalid El-Hakim. "He was in between. He's a legend, no doubt, but just not deep in the Detroit narrative."
"During the middle and latter parts of his career, he started cheapening his brand," says former Ichiban label-mate Jack Frost. "He started falling on hard times, and he would do features and appearances for less and less money than he was really worth."
But Colvin, who initially met Breed in 1993 at a Southfield shopping plaza, doesn't buy it.
"Proof and J Dilla adored MC Breed!" he says. "That's why they recorded music together. MC Breed can go on any street, any hood in Detroit and anywhere throughout the United States," he says confidently. "He wasn't in all the articles locally, but he was nationally, so that all matters."
Colvin collaborated with Breed in 2004 to form Payper Management. Breed, who even his heyday never sought a major-label deal, felt comfortable with Colvin. "We were great friends at the time," Colvin says. "We were roommates, and he trusted me when it came to business."
Colvin's no newcomer to Detroit's hip-hop scene. He runs Fallen Angelz Entertainment, Groundwerk Music Distribution, and PayPa'Boi South Ent. He's worked with Dice, DJ Lynn Swann, and others. The lead single off MC Breed's Sept. 23 maxi release is I Can Give It to You. It's a straight Jeezyish/Lil Wayne-esque head-banger with enough bounce and swagger to be an instant club hit and radio rotation mainstay. The track also features Bootleg of the Dayton Family and Payroll of Doughboyz Cashout.
"It's four tracks," Colvin says. "Two radio and two dirty. I'm doing it like how singles used to be in the '90s."
The four-track EP is a precursor to the album Money Train, slated for release next year (with a possible 2Pac appearance).
"MC Breed was a very versatile artist," he says. "He sold 7 million records; the fans love the new single, and the feedback has been amazing. Music is eternal once it's recorded correctly." mt