Gladiator Records 80 Empire discusses Legacy & More
Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with musical artists and owners of Gladiator Records 80 Empire. 80 Empire (Lucas and Adrian Rezza) are brothers from Niagara-On-the-Lake, Ontario. In our interview, we discuss creating theme songs, an upcoming short film project, their album Legacy, Gladiator Records, and more.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourselves, your musical background, and how you got into the business?
Sure, we’re brothers Lucas and Adrian – Italian/Canadian. 80 Empire stands also for A.D. Analog/Digital. I’m more the old school type and like all things vintage and antique, Luke is more immersed in technology and all things Digital. We were very lucky to grow up in a household that was very musical. Neither one of our parents played instruments or sang. However, they were, and still are incredible dancers and lovers of music. They would bring us to concerts, record stores, plays, monthly trips to star sound, the old Sam the record man, and HMV downtown Yonge Street, Toronto. We were completely engulfed in such a rich musical upbringing. Our dad also used to bring us to Monica’s on Eglington Avenue West where he bought calypso records, reggae.
We also bought our first 45 there Raw by Big Daddy Kane. That was our introduction to Hip-hop. Every Friday was dance night in our family room and basement, the Soulful and funky sound of James Brown, Rick James, Prince, and so many other soulful icons could be heard playing throughout our house, creating such a festive and definitely soulful atmosphere. Watching iconic Hip-hop movies like Beatstreet, attending so many concerts from a young age, definitely shaped our paths into adulthood full of music. We both took piano lessons then stopped. Luke was always gifted in piano and later continued with Jazz piano. I had the mouth and was quick with melodies and words, rapping at a young age. Luke later got into keyboards, drum machines, and music software. We played every hole in the wall to performing at the scotia bank centre and the Skydome. It’s definitely been a hell of a ride and we think the best is yet to come!
2. Describe the process of creating songs for shows such as Bravo Real Housewives and CBC Kim’s Convenience.
Ya, we had a song we wrote and produced for an artist a long time ago. Then our buddy Dave Andre’s from Florida reached out to us saying there was this opportunity to potentially land the theme song to the Real Housewives of Miami. He sent this producer Silvio the tune. He loved it, added some Brazillian and Latino percussion, we already had the melody in place and the whole structure of the song from the melody to the rhythm, created and wrote new words with Adriana Demourra was on the show and the rest was history! We were told we beat out the legendary producer Emilio Estefan of Miami Sound Machine and Shakira fame for the job so was definitely a flag in the sand for us. I remember writing the words with Luke in our parent’s sunroom around Easter time and going back and forth with her via the phone and email. We have music with Adriana as well as some great Brazillian music. She visited us about 3 years back.
For Kim’s Convenience, we did a song that’s in an episode with a friend of our D.O. , We also did some music for a show Thandie Newton was in called Rogue, a Russian mafia scene in a night club.
We also have landed a couple of placements during this pandemic we just can’t talk about it until the ink is dry. We’ve also scored some short films and have scored a full season of a tv show that has yet to hit the tv screen.
Also cool British short film we scored called 3 roads starring Shone Romulus who plays Dris on the Netflix smash Top Boy.
3. Let’s discuss a few of your collaborations. Any fun stories from the recording room?
I think we always have a blast when we’re physically in the room with Bone Crusher, such a solid cat and kindred spirit. We definitely laughed our asses off with Divine Brown and Maestro Fresh Wes when working on their albums. Levi Little, from Blackstreet, was good times in the studio as well. In terms of collaborations, we have so much music we are releasing, we’re also making music in real-time, documenting things in society as they happen. For example, our song To Kill A Black Man was written and produced the first weekend that George Floyd was horrifically murdered by the Minnesota police department.
We called up some of our musical friends from Phillie and Buffalo, they sent us their verses and Boom we put out the song. We also put together an entire album together with Swifty Mcvay of D12 during this pandemic. 11 songs plus a 12th which will be used in a movie Swifty is in. An amazing lyricist and person. We also just shot a video. He did his parts in Detroit and we filmed our parts in Hamilton, now the director our brother, Fatty Soprano is going to piece it all together.
4. You are teaming up with Paper Driven Films, Fatty Soprano, and Actor/Writer Robert Funaro for a special film project. Can you tell us a little about the project?
Yes, we are all partners in a short film we collaboratively have put together. We were going to start filming but then the world just stopped running. It is still in the works, I can’t go into too much detail but Robert ( Sopranos, Irishman, American Gangster) plays the lead. We also have Meeko Gattuso from HBO’s Euphoria playing a major role. As soon as the borders are opened we are going to film and hit the ground running.
5. Can we discuss your upcoming album Legacy? Who should we expect on the album? Can you tell us more about the songs on the album?
Our Legacy album is an evolution of songs. We have already put out a number of singles like FIT IN with Fred the Godson ( Rest in peace ), Bishop Lamont, Laz, Catherine Marie, and Il Nano. To a slue of other tunes like Cosa Nostra and Legacy ( the single ) we just put out ft. Conway the Machine and Balistic Man. I think with both our Legacy project and Swifty’s project we have very anthemic choruses, very lyrical and heavy beats riddled with melody. Stories, substance. I think the themes of Legacy will resonate with people. Songs of triumph and overcoming obstacles. A lot of melancholy and nostalgia as well. We also have other records dropping with Kxng Crooked, Kid Vishis, Statik Selekt, Balistic Man, Wally La Amenaza, B.G. Knocc out, Masta Ace and many more.
6. Tell us about your record label ‘Gladiator Records’
Ya, we started Gladiator so we could do and run things our way, we’ve been signed to major labels and indie, we have a publishing deal with Universal, we have experience being artists, we were AnRs for a short stint for a project at Last Gang Records, so needless to say we have a lot of experience and thought it was time to start our own label with the help of Nova Music Group. It’s nice having the freedom to do what we want…the label has shifted direction from its first inception but we really like where it’s headed and all the doors that are opening up. The Hip-hop we’re putting out just feels right, it’s us, we have always been unapologetically Hip-hop.
7. 80 Empire…just for fun. Favourite wine, beer, or spirit from Niagara-on-the-Lake and why?
Ahhhhh great question! We are right in the heart of so many great wineries and boutique breweries. We really dig Limited Distilings pumpkin spice rum. Great for making rum and cokes. We both like red, merlot…all of the wineries are right up there and can compete on a world stage. Luke really digs the Whiskey from Gretzkys. When the world gets to a place where larger gatherings are both safe and acceptable we want to team up with a brewery or winery to put on a curated evening of music, film, visual arts, etc….
80 Empire – Legacy