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Thursday, February 3,2011

Alum’s label poised for big hip-hop release

By Brenda Evans

Photo Caption: Stu Pflaum
An Ohio University alumnus’ record label is anticipating the release of the label’s first major album.

According to an Element 9 Muzik press release, West Coast hip-hop group Strong Arm Steady’s album, “Arms & Hammers,” will be in stores Feb. 22.

Stu Pflaum founded Element 9 Companies in 2005 while attending OU. The outfit is based in Cleveland.

“I think the album will be well received,” said Pflaum, also known as DJ Xplosive. “It’s hard to sit on a record this good and not want to share it with the world immediately.”

Element 9 Companies house a digital marketing firm, a publishing firm and the record label, Element 9 Muzik. 

The album will be released in collaboration with Blacksmith Music, a label owned by artist Talib Kweli.

Strong Arm Steady has trimmed down over the years to a trio of MCs.

It’s rare that you find a group of musicians as good as these guys that are able to combine their talents and work with one another without letting egos hinder their progress,” said Pflaum.

On the production side, every member of the team has worked with outside labels to produce records in the past, but this will be a first for the company, according to Pflaum.

“Both Element 9 and Blacksmith have a lot to prove,” said Kweli. “It is good to work with a partner that is in the same trench as you.”

Strong Arm Steady’s early 2010 album, “In Search of Stoney Jackson,” was at the top of numerous critics’ lists, according to Pflaum. They are expecting this album to surpass that.

I think it’s going to be a game-changer in terms of the way people view West Coast hip-hop,” said Pflaum.

According to Kweli, the decision to work with Element 9 Muzik came after a suggestion from a distribution company. “Pflaum is a good friend,” he said. “It has been a great partnership.”

Pflaum graduated from OU in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in entertainment law and management.

Working as a DJ while at OU, Pflaum made his way into the music industry.

My time at OU was the best training for a career in the music business one could get,” said Pflaum. “The opportunities OU’s campus presented to me were limitless.”

Pflaum said he worked with local club promoters to learn both marketing strategies and the economics involved in throwing a successful event.

Being there for the early stages of OU Hip-Hop Congress also helped Pflaum to develop his business acumen and inspired him to start his own company. According to Pflaum, it was similar to getting a business off the ground.

Now that Pflaum has returned to Cleveland, he hopes to become more involved in the group that was a major part in the foundation of his career.

According to Kweli, the production of the album was backed by the passion and focus of Element 9.

“Waiting has been the hardest part,” said Pflaum. “The group has seen records originally meant for Arms & Hammers go to acts like Kanye West and Eminem, which should be a strong indication of how great the album will be.”


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