MNRK Music Group announces a new partnership with Chris Schwartz and his Ruffnation Entertainment to form a new vinyl & merchandising company, Surface Noise Records (“Surface Noise”). MNRK will provide A&R and Marketing Resources, while Ruffnation Entertainment, through its partnership with Studio 4 Vinyl Manufacturing, has dedicated manufacturing and fulfillment services in a partnership between Schwartz, Phil Nicolo of Studio 4 Vinyl and Arik Victor, owner of Creep record stores, recording studio and record label. Surface Noise will be positioned to capitalize on a market demand which is exceeding the capabilities of both major labels and indie labels across the board as available manufacturing operations are overrun.
Surface Noise will release projects from both new and heritage acts, in both the urban and rock genres. MNRK will distribute certain titles digitally, while others will be vinyl titles only, distributed online direct to consumer, as limited edition, or general retail releases.
The label’s first release will be the vinyl version of “Onxy Versus Everybody,” the new studio album by Queens legends Onyx, which was released digitally in mid-May to coincide with the group’s Verzuz battle against Cypress Hill. Other releases to be scheduled in the next coming months are new projects from Ultramagnetic MCs, Harlem up-and-coming rapper Nym Lo and more.
Grunblatt, says, “Here at MNRK Urban we start trends for others to follow. Hip hop is severely underserved in the vinyl space even though there has been an explosion in vinyl sales. Additionally, other artists are waiting a year for their vinyl to be released. With Chris and his team, we’ll be able to turn around vinyl in 3 months.”
Schwartz says, “We had already been working together on titles including ‘Back in Black,’ the new album by revolutionary hip-hop legacy act Cypress Hill, who is celebrating their 30th year together. As things came together, it made absolute sense for both Ruffnation to merge its ability to secure marquee-name artists with MNRK’s A&R frontline marketing and promotional capabilities.”
Phil Nicolo says, “The unprecedented consumer demand for vinyl has created an almost perfect storm. The deficit of hip-hop product at retail and our combined A&R experience and pedigrees have positioned us to capitalize on a market that continues to grow on a daily basis.”
Chris Schwartz was a founder of Philadelphia’s Ruffhouse Records, one of the most successful hip-hop labels of the ‘90s with global sales exceeding 150 million records. Schwartz signed and steered the careers of numerous artists including The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Schoolly D, Nas, DMX, Kris Cross, Kool Keith, Tim Dog, The Goats, and others. He now runs Ruffnation Entertainment, a licensing, sales, marketing & distribution company for Music & Merchandise. The company acquires vinyl rights for limited-edition releases from both current and catalog artists and secures distribution rights from major and independent labels.
Phil Nicolo is a GRAMMY-winning producer and engineer who has worked with some of the biggest marquee names in music, including Bon Jovi, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and many others. He is the owner-founder of the legendary Studio 4 Recording, which has garnered countless platinum projects and is the home to hip-hop powerhouse Ruffhouse Records. Nicolo more recently cofounded, along with Obie O’Brien, The Studio 4 Vinyl Pressing Plant, a state-of-the-art pressing facility.