Nastymix Records To Close

Nastymix Records, the Seattle label that made Sir Mix-a-Lot a rap star, is closing. The 10-person staff has been dismissed and the company's office in the Tower Building will close by Friday, according to founder-president Ed Locke.

Nastymix releases will continue to be distributed by Ichiban Records of Atlanta, which has been in partnership with Nastymix since last year. Locke said he is trying to find investors to recapitalize Nastymix and keep it alive, but has no firm commitments.

Nastymix's troubles began in late 1990 when Sir Mix-a-Lot left the company and signed with top rap label Def American, which financed Mix-a-Lot's own label, Rhyme Cartel. Mix-a-Lot has enjoyed his greatest success with Def American, including a No. 1 single earlier this year, "Baby Got Back."

Locke started Nastymix Records in 1985. It was named after his partner, "Nasty" Nes Rodriguez, and the label's only act at the time, Sir Mix-a-Lot, whose real name is Anthony Ray.

They enjoyed their first success in 1987 with the Mix-a-Lot single, "Squaredance Rap." That was followed in 1988 with "Posse on Broadway," about Seattle rappers, which was Mix-a-Lot's first national hit single and video. In the following two years, the label enjoyed great success, including two million-selling albums by Sir Mix-a-Lot, "SWASS" and "Seminar." Nastymix put Seattle on the rap map and contributed to the city's image as a hotbed of new, young music talent.

At its height in the late 1980s, the label had a large stable of mostly rap acts, including Kid Sensation, High Performance and America's Most Wanted. But Sir Mix-a-Lot was its only big success. When he left, he took the rights to all his recordings with him, depriving Nastymix of its revenue base.

Nastymix went into partnership with Ichiban, a major distributor for independent labels, to stay afloat, but Locke said it has been a rocky relationship. Officials of Ichiban could not be reached for comment.

"I feel old," said Locke, who is 32 "The last two years were rough."

But the executive, known in the industry for his energy, is not giving up. "I'm the kind of person who can't sit still for very long," he said. If he is unable to revive Nastymix, he would like to stay in the music business here in some capacity, he said.