Working under the name Rebelious Records, J-Law, Sweatshop, S.S. and Dirrty Phil aim to entertain Hagerstown audiences while sharing their love of music and video with YouTube and iTunes fans.
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"Everybody likes to laugh and everybody likes music," said Jamie Lawrence, aka J-Law, 26. He bills himself as the business' general manager and promoter, but he also shoots and edits video, and provides vocals of the rapping variety to Rebelious' productions.
What exactly does the group provide?
"It's every aspect of entertainment," said Matthew Miller, aka Sweatshop, 26. He added the foursome's work brings laughter to an audience spanning from 15-year-olds to his mother.
For those gifted in spelling, there's an obvious misspelling here: Rebelious with only one "l." It's a nod to the alma mater of all but one member of the foursome. Lawrence, Miller and Andrew Shadrach, aka S.S., 26, are South Hagerstown High School graduates. Dirrty Phil, 24, whose real name is Dustin Shillingberg, graduated from Washington County Technical High School.
Lawrence started making CDs and CD covers in 1998. His music-making business was put on hold when he was 15, when his parents found a book containing his rap lyrics. They weren't pleased.
"They said I should be studying for the SAT, not rapping," Lawrence said.
Fast forward to 2007, when Rebelious Records was born.
Lawrence and Miller, who have been friends since the age of 5, lost touch after Miller went off to college and played in cover bands from 2004-08 on Royal Caribbean cruises. When he returned, Lawrence put his long-lost friend's computer and musical skills to use.
"Music always calls you back," Shillingberg said.
They started with one laptop and a $3 microphone, and their sound booth was fashioned out of an armoire.
Now they have a state-of-the-art computer and mixers.
"You just gotta invest in yourself," Shillingberg said.
They do the bulk of their mixing and recording in what Shillingberg calls "the dungeon," a studio in his home.
Rebelious Records has made 40 videos since April, mostly for regional artists, including Skies, Rebel, Big T and Mack.
They do some DJing and perform shows around Hagerstown, sometimes featuring Shillingberg as a rapper.
"I can't sing a tune in a bucket," Shillingberg said.
Unique and unscripted