Couture Ink Honors BK Hip Hop With Classic Sound New Single “Ghost Town” on Marmah Records
New York, NY — The pressures of the music industry tend to take their toll on new artists by forcing up-and-comers to comply with fast-paced marketing schemes. Where true lyricists were once valued by rap industry pioneers, much of the creative soul in today’s Hip Hop has been bypassed for quick hits and easy money. Brooklyn native Couture Ink is keeping a watchful eye for any career-ending shortcuts as he prepares his debut album, Russian Roulette, which will be ready for release in Spring 2008. His new single “Ghost Town” is just the first step in bringing the depth of his experiences to life through lyrics.
Although Couture Ink’s tragic beginnings in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn would shock the system of almost any young person, he has been able to translate his personal angst into highly relatable music. From experiencing the violent deaths of two siblings, watching his family fall apart at the seams and engaging in various illegal activities to survive, Couture Ink’s struggles are the foundation of his heartfelt songs.
“I think each song I write is made for a reflection of my community, it is way beyond Hip Hop music,” says Couture. “My neighborhood particularly doesn’t really have anything positive. A little less than 40% of the New York City jail population is from Brownsville. I think I make music for those particular people – and for my sister who used to love Hip Hop, which is the reason I’m here anyway.”
As CEO of New York-based Marmah Records, “Corporate” Ken Darpoh saw something in Couture Ink that compelled him to personally invest in the movement. “I saw potential in the words Couture used when expressing himself on tracks, and his personality is amazing,” says Ken. “He dazzles everyone. I always call him my alter ego, because he can do and say the things I can’t. After we worked together, I knew Couture Ink would be the first artist released on Marmah Records. He is a reflection of Marmah Records – a true artist able to express their art through the polish of a strong machine.”
While the single “Ghost Town” is being distributed to DJ’s across the country by the Marmah Records’ team, Couture is focusing on rounding out the Russian Roulette album with his classic style. “I do feel like I’m one of those fresh new people that others can relate to,” expresses Couture. “Traumatic events have led my luck to be this. I think I can personally build up one of the most creative fan bases in today’s Hip Hop audience. Russian Roulette puts the icing on the cake for the preparation of my future. Fans have been waiting for this type of thing – the loophole is there.”
For more information and to stream/download “Ghost Town”, go to www.tygereye.net/coutureink and www.myspace.com/coutureink
About Couture Ink
Derrick B. Harden a.k.a. Couture Ink knows the urban struggle that cripples the weak, humbles the strong and empowers a select few. It is this struggle and pain that imprints itself upon the self-assured vocals of this Brooklyn native. After years of harsh life experiences, Couture Ink brings his story to the youth that are battling with the urban struggle he once faced. Released through Marmah Records, his new single “Ghost Town” is a vibrant introduction to the classic sound and style of “poetic gangster music” that will progress with Couture’s debut album Russian Roulette in Spring 2008.
Couture Ink grew up in Brownsville, one of New York’s most feared ghettoes – the birthplace of the original Jewish-Italian alliance Murder Inc., known by locals for the devastating body count left by the crack epidemic of the ’80s and early ’90s. Few residents of this notorious neighborhood ever manage to disentangle themselves from the grasp of poverty, due to the fuel of illegal drugs that mysteriously made life seem livable.
“I think each song I write is made for a reflection of my community, it is way beyond Hip Hop music,” says Couture of his personal influences. “My neighborhood particularly doesn’t really have anything positive. A little less than 40% of the New York City jail population is from Brownsville. I think I make music for those particular people – and for my sister who used to love Hip Hop, which is the reason I’m here anyway.”
In today’s fast past society exceptional stories are harder to come by, but the story of Couture Ink stops time and sets a tone of silence and focus in the listener. At the age of 12-years-old, Couture witnessed the murder of his 15-year-old sister Cha-ron, shot in the face by her childhood boyfriend. For every action there is a reaction, and from that day he watched his family dissolve. His father, a 70’s street hustler and local basketball star, numbed the pain of his child’s death through the abuse of heroin.
Shortly thereafter, Couture’s parents separated while his father bounced in and out of correctional facilities. Couture’s mother reacted to the devastating pain of her first born child’s death by neglecting her other children. She began using crack, and still revisits it to this day. Tension ran high in Couture’s household. He was kicked out at an early age due to a conflict of interest with his mother’s new female lover.
For a time in his life, Couture lived with his uncle Panama, a well-known drug dealer for whom a couple of well-known rappers worked for back in the late ’80s. Unfortunately, Panama died of AIDS in 1999, and Couture pressed on to create something out of nothing. Taking after his dad, he soon proved to be one of the most promising young basketball players in his community. Still confused by family matters, Couture turned down a scholarship to Manhattan’s prestigious Lasalle Academy high school. He dropped out of High School altogether in the 9th grade, leaving his academic goals at New Utrecht High School.
By age 15, Couture Ink was the stereotypical Brooklyn teen, a high school drop out with fading dreams. Couture tried several street trades to try and get by. He spent time in the town of Geneva in upstate New York practicing some of the tricks he picked up from his uncle Panama. While in Brooklyn he started “boosting” (stealing clothes) with the notorious Lo-Lifes crew and it became a passion. Couture was becoming well known in the streets under the name “Quiz,” but then a series of odd events changed all of that.
At the age of 17, Couture met two Italian kids he meshed well with. They introduced him to their cousin, who offered him a job on Wall Street. By 18, with no high school diploma or G.E.D, Couture began working for Evergreen International Foreign Exchange as a cold caller. Eight months later he became an assistant accountant, working with one of the company bosses. “After realizing that all I do the entire day was a lie, I quit.” It was an opportune decision, as the company shut its doors soon after 9/11. Embroiled in shady activities, Couture’s ex-boss was found shot to death shortly after the company’s closure.
In no time Couture was back to his old tricks in the hood. His cliental grew, and he was boosting more than ever. Eventually a friend convinced him to exchange his lifestyle, a firearm, and a Versace suit for a job interview with H&M. Couture saw this as an opportunity to get back out of a bad situation. The interview consisted of Couture showing off his book of rare Ralph Lauren Polo items that he acquired through the years, and by the end of the interview he landed the job as a Visual Merchandiser for H&M. He was shipped out to Stockholm, Sweden where he trained for four months. While in Sweden, Couture became very homesick and Hip Hop became his cure. He started rhyming to create a sense of peace while getting rid of the homesickness.
Soon after his return to New York, he decided to pursue his love of Hip Hop officially. He recorded his first demo with Ayatollah and Square Pimp Productions (Styles P, Mos Def, Cormega), while interning at music publishing giant ASCAP. Several of Couture Ink’s freestyles had fallen into the hands of Chop Diesel of the hit production group The Dream Team (50 Cent, P. Diddy, LL Cool J, Nas). Impressed with a mixture of Couture’s lyrical content, flow and aggressiveness, Chop invited him to join a group called The NRA, which was being optioned by Motown. Eventually, creative conflicts with the other members forced Couture to leave the group and pursue his aspirations independently.
In 2003, while working as a butler at the exclusive members only club SoHo House, the name and image of Couture Ink was formed. The posh cosmopolitan atmosphere of SoHo House led to the refinement of his image and offered quick cash to invest in his career. In early 2005, Couture began selling copies of his mixtapes on the streets for $1.00, and sold over 10,000 units that year.
In April 2005, further tragedy struck when Couture lost his half-brother to a drug-related double homicide. “I started being paranoid, I didn’t want to leave the crib,” explains Couture. “A couple of days before he passed I spoke to him over the phone and he was talking about his discussions with J Records.” The decision to quit rapping frequently entered his mind, but before any such thing happened, Couture entered into a deep friendship with supermodel Sasha Pivovarova, who ultimately restored his passion for his art, and pushed him to get out of the rut and hustle even harder.
Despite all of his hardships early in life, Couture Ink envisions a bright future for his career. “I do feel blessed, because all I have to do is be me. People are going to embrace me. I do feel like I’m one of those fresh new people that others can relate to. Traumatic events have led my luck to be this. I think I can personally build up one of the most creative fan bases in today’s Hip Hop audience – I feel like Jenna Bush will buy my record. I just know it, she would be a fan of it. Russian Roulette puts the icing on the cake for the preparation of my future. Fans have been waiting for this type of thing – the loophole is there.”
About Marmah Records
Founded by Kenneth “Corporate Ken” Darpoh in 2007, Marmah Records has been six years in the making. In late 2001, Ken began his journey at Columbia Records, and went on to work for Sony Urban Music, Universal/Motown Records and TVT Records. Along the way, he has acquired the priceless knowledge and contacts necessary for breaking artists in this rapidly changing industry.
Marmah Records’ first artist is Brooklyn lyricist Couture Ink. Couture is a breath of fresh air to the consumer who lives and breathes Hip Hop. “As a label we want to give artist the ability to express their artistic voice,” explains Ken. “We help in developing and polishing our artists, but we allow them to be who they are. As CEO, I want to guide this label away from the cookie cutter model that most labels follow and go back to developing sounds. I know consumers and tastemakers are ready for a change, so welcome our first artist Couture Ink.”