Ladarrion Burton, known aptly by his stage name, ‘7 Tha Great,’ is a Dallas-based rapper who earned his seat atop Dallas’ hip-hop food chain using little more than a cellphone and raw talent.
“His [7 Tha Great] story is inspiring and offers hope to a city of artists who have talent and ambition but very little to help cultivate it,” said Phantom City founder, Chris Nicolaou.
In 2015, Burton garnered attention from Dallas’ hip-hop elite after dropping “7 Days,” an unmastered mixtape detailing the rappers life-long commitment to hip-hop. Within weeks, the project went viral, crowning 7 Tha Great Dallas’ new “ Underground King.”
Three years later, Dallas entrepreneur, Nicolaou unveiled a three-year passion project called Phantom City Records, Dallas’ first and only full-service hip-hop record label. According to Nicolaou, the “historic,” title says very little about Phantom City’s big vision, and more about the sobering state of Dallas’ hip-hop scene.
Using a hand-crafted renegade model, he’s dubbed, “community enterprise,” Nicolaou and his team have been able to provide the city a clean business with a solid corporate structure and a firm commitment to sourcing the community and consolidating talent.
Armed with a similar community vision, Burton and his label, FGMG decided to link up with Phantom City in August of 2017 to help establish legitimacy and grow the business, but more importantly to help Nicolaou and his new label navigate Dallas’ foreboding music scene.
“I saw something in their model that I’ve never seen in this city…something Dallas really needs, a true label that puts the music first and wants to help the hip-hop community on a fundamental level,” Burton said.
In the months to follow, both Nicolaou and Burton would find themselves at the apex of a citywide hip-hop revival. But, all big visions come with a price tag, which Burton and Nicolaou pay in time, money and stress every day.
“Negotiating growing pains is arguably the most exciting part of the process, said Nicolaou, “but I never anticipated the number of obstacles we would have to hurdle.”
He went on to touch on a litany of concerning macro-level city dynamics. Chief among them, the bizarre cultural divide fixed square between Dallas Proper and south Oak Cliff, a rift he refers to as, “the invisible partition.”
To a natural Dallasite, the term ‘Dallas Proper’ unanimously refers to exactly everything, except South Oak Cliff. Albeit sad, it’s the cold, hard truth. Both Burton and Nicolaou, comically agree they would never have met, known each other existed, nor cared, had it not been for the ‘majestic power of music.’
“This may sound dramatic but, I remember being a little terrified, after listening to our [Dope Ninja] EP for the first time all the way through… no bulls*it, I knew, in an instant, that Phantom City represents much more than hip-hop music or any music for that matter.”
To stay in the know on Phantom City visit their website here.