Picture R. Kelly -- that is, if you can without thinking of Dave Chappelle's scatological parody "Pee On You." Scratch that. So, picture Ginuwine. He's on the beach, on his knees, shirtless, the sun setting behind him, the waves crashing seductively against his body with every woo-woo-woooo -- the slow-jam mating call.
Cut to a scene of a bed. Ginuwine's sexually charged jam "Pony" is playing. Candles burn on a table, where several chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of Dom Perignon are waiting -- for you, baby. That's right. Tonight's a night that will live on... in ecstasy... as Ginuwine calls to you: "My saddle's waiting/Come and jump on it."
Da Luv Circuit is an independent Coral Springs hip-hop and R&B label recently launched by Stefan Daluv. Daluv's previous ventures were Trios Studios and Design and Mack Music Group, two recording companies, but, as Daluv says, nothing ever happened. So far, he's invested $100,000 of his own money to get the circuit breaking.
When the media kit first appeared on my desk, I immediately envisioned the slow-mo slow-jam fest in my mind. Daluv, I thought, must look like Barry White. In reality, the 31-year-old Daluv is a tall, good-looking guy, who was dressed when I met him recently in a white Da Luv Circuit T-shirt and jeans. In the living room of his Coral Springs home/office/studio, the Brooklyn-born Daluv explains the circuit. "I grew up on Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Temptations, the older stuff," he says. "But I modeled my label after the Roc-a-fellas and Bad Boys. They're all very family-oriented; a lot of the artists grew up together -- Nate Dogg, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg. So I decided to start with people I knew. And that's how I got Steven Hall. We used to sing in a group together when we were like 15; we got in trouble together, ya know? Then we went our separate ways. I went to college and decided I wanted to work on the business side of music. So I put a business plan together to see if I could start a label. And the label is my extended family."
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Hence the name: Da Luv Circuit. Helping Daluv out with the public relations side of the label is 21-year-old Toye Hawkins, a Miami native. There are no slow jams playing in Daluv's home, no candles, no Dom P. But that's not really what he's going for. Hall, touted by Daluv as "South Florida's R&B king," just dropped his first CD on the label, called Definition of a Brotha. Despite titles like "Mack 4 Life" and "Streets Is Hard," the album has more of a feel-good, Stevie Wonder vibe, although you could still get busy to it. Also on Da Luv Circuit is DJ Diamond, a woman who spins old-school hip-hop, R&B, and reggae.
"I don't care for the thug image, the derogatory things," Daluv says. "If it's a good song, it's a good song. And we're paying for that. [Hall's] music isn't thuggish. Slip-n-Slide [the Miami label Trick Daddy and Trina are on] and Po' Boy are the two biggest hip-hop labels in South Florida. But, ya know, they hustle. Everybody hustles to do this. You spend money on an artist and hope that he blows up, and if he doesn't, that's all the money. It takes an absurd amount of money to push a record label... People everywhere love hip-hop. Miami is more Dirty South. But no one's selling this type of drug in Broward."
Daluv is quick to admit that when he started the label in 2002, he wasn't exactly living straight. "Back then, I actually was hustling," he says. "So I was given an ultimatum of doing prison time or coming clean and living my life right. But that doesn't mean I can't still start some controversy. We're all about getting out there, getting the word out."
And part of getting the word out is Da Luv Circuit's three vans, which have been airbrushed top to bottom with ads for DJ Diamond and Steven Hall. The Florida tags even read "DA LUV." "Yeah, the vans get a lot of attention," Daluv laughs as he stands in the driveway. "But what can I say? We eat, sleep, and crap music."