Pledge Empire Records recently hit its 10th anniversary, and it’s no surprise to the brothers behind the label. Cedric Dildy and Prince Carlton said they’ve always dreamed big.
“Nobody could tell us we were not going to the NBA,” Dildy said with a laugh.
“We think out in the sky,” Carlton said. “…I don’t think you can do the entertainment business and be realistic. You’ve got to be a crazy thinker.”
Originally from Virginia Beach, Dildy (who performs under the name Ced Linus) and Carlton came to Minnesota on scholarship to play basketball at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato.
“We didn’t know anything about Minnesota,” Dildy said. “All we knew is Kevin Garnett and Prince.”
The rappers passed out their mixtapes and CDs at school. When they saw artists release independent projects without major label backing, they decided to do the same, naming the label Pledge Empire after their early rap group.
Dildy remembers their first recording session, leaving school at 2 p.m. and traveling to a cabin where they recorded until 2 a.m. and mixed tracks in the morning. Today, Dildy records at his home in Stevens Square, creating beats on his keyboard. Aside from street noise in summer, the home setup is ideal, he said.
“When you get an idea, you just go ahead and work on it,” he said.
The Current featured Lights — a Summer Sessions track Dildy wrote top-to-bottom in 40 minutes — as Song of the Day in April.
Other artists signed to the label include Sti-Lo Reel (a fellow student at Bethany), Niko Slim, D.J. Airman Heat, Louie P, Rosei 22 of Australia and Mastermind of London.
Pledge Empire also throws dance parties, recently launching its first kids’ dance party at Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul. At other dance parties, like the upcoming Eminem Day at the James Ballentine VFW Jan. 14, they play a single artist’s music all night. They have devoted nights to Michael Jackson (which attracted a Jackson impersonator), Tupac (which sold out), Biggie and Dr. Dre.
Dildy booked January tour dates in Australia — “There’s a big world out there,” he said — and he will release his EP Winter Sessions in the coming weeks. A documentary on the project is underway, featuring his recent performance at The Warming House. Dildy said winter’s dead leaves and the slow beats provide a chance to prepare for spring.
“It’s a time of year when you’ve got to get rid of baggage,” he said. “Getting it out of the way and making room for something new.”