Interviews

Published on December 18th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford

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Skip (Of UTP) Turned Frustrations of the Music Industry Into A Prominent Business!

When it comes to eateries, Chicken & Watermelon is a New Orleans hot spot and the brand continues to grow throughout Louisiana.

Hot single, “Nolia Clap” from UTP’s, “The Beginning of the End,” album was Skip’s introduction to the world. Southern music legend, Juvenile spearheaded, UTP Records which in turn added, Skip and Wacko to the roster to produce the summer hot track in 2004. Peaking at 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and having top ten peak positions in two other Billboard categories, the group seemed to be well on its way to rap success. But as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In Skip’s case, he was given chicken and watermelon and he turned it into a prominent southern franchise. When frustrations with the music business set in, Skip turned to his entrepreneurial/hustler skills, teamed up with, Ronn Woods, created an eye-popping name and turned the stereotypical insult into a budding business. Chicken & Watermelon prides itself on provided flavorful foods, at affordable prices while giving back to the community through various charitable work.

During my recent conversation with, Skip, we talk all things, Chicken & Watermelon, giving back to those in need and his desire to still release new music.

How is everything going, big dawg?

Skip: I been alright, how you been?

No complaints, brother. You took a stereotypical phrase that most would view as negative or demeaning and named your franchise after it. What made you go with the name, “Chicken & Watermelon?”

Skip: It was explosive, man. And I know in business you gotta have an explosive name for marketing purposes. Everybody know the name, and if you can take a negative and make it into a positive, all of that is a win regardless.

You do some great things in the city, man. Through your business, you do a lot of charitable work and your efforts don’t go unnoticed. A lot of talk about your philanthropy work on social media. How important is it for you to give back to the community?

Skip: That’s just like everyday life. Me and my partner [Ronn Woods] been pushing like that since we were young. We always have been doing good from the neighborhood that we are from, to where we are now. We just trying to give back as we go. We come from not having nothing, and we know they got people out there not having nothing. It don’t take much to make us happy. We give a lil something back and people spread the love.

Could you expand a little bit on some of the things you have been doing to give back?

Skip: In December, we do our annual toy giveaway. We giveaway like 500 to 1,000 bikes every year. A couple of weeks ago we had our sweater and coat giveaway. That’s just a little something we do for the community. We just be trying to reach out and reach back. What we did with the mayor is a summer program we did for at risk youth. We gave at risk youth a job. We trying to show them a different way of life. Tulane doctors came over and supported what we do. They helped with the kids. They gave free medicals and diagnosis and free visits while we were out there. They show a lot of love and come support us and help a lot.

The city goes as the Saints go. Have you seen that reflection in business because of the successful year that the New Orleans Saints are having?

Skip: Like you say, the city go as the Saints go. If the Saints lose, nobody make money, if the Saints win, everybody make money. Everybody know how that go. The name of the game, the more money we make is usually based on the Saints wins. It’s a Saints town!

I love the prices of the food you guys serve over there. You’re damn near giving the food away. I always see the wing specials, 5-wings, fries and a drink for $4.50. That’s amazing.

Skip: Man… all that stems from the giveback aspect. We were in business, but we always knew with spots like ours, we have like a mom-and-pop store. We really wanted to be able to touch everybody else price point; like McDonald’s and Popeyes. We were just trying to touch everybody price point. The kids getting off of school, everybody got like $5. So, we would give them a meal for $5. We thought we were in a position to help everybody, keep it moving and make a couple of dollars.

You said you have always had a give back type of mentality. Where does that come from because that’s not always the case; especially down here?

Skip: I just think that anybody who is in my position should be able to do it. I don’t understand why more people don’t do it. I be confused about that. I’m new to heavy entrepreneurship. I come from being poor. My momma nem was poor, my grandmother was poor. We were never rich. But then, I look at other families who been out here all that time and I’m looking at them like, “Ya’ll could have been giving back. If you can get out here and give back. People don’t be giving back to nobody, man. Nobody care about nobody nowadays, ya know.

The Popeyes chicken sandwich opened up the doors for, Chicken & Watermelon’s chicken sandwich in which I read a lot of reviews that had yours better than Popeyes’.

Skip: At first, we weren’t even worried about a chicken sandwich, but it was a chicken sandwich craze. We are, Chicken & Watermelon and we do have over 80 flavors… I just knew I could make a chicken sandwich that was going to be marketable too. I just made one just for the hell of it, and it took off for us.

In your opinion, what separates what you are serving on your menu opposed to other spots?

Skip: I just think I care more. I just really care. This is mine. I care about the food, I care about the look, the taste, the quality. I just care more. Other people come into business to make money, but I really care about my product, I care about my customers, I care about my neighbors. You gotta just be more aware and care.

I can’t talk to you and not bring up the music side of things. My man, Glasses Malone said you are a legend in Watts. Where are you at musically?

Skip: I stay in the studio, man. I stay in the studio regularly. I had got really mad with the game, but you know how the game go. I had a bad record deal, dealing with a couple of bad people. It was horrible. That turned me off to the business aspect of it. I don’t like that part of the game, but I like to make the music. That’s why I just started dropping the mixtapes for the people who like, Skip. I was just loading up a mixtape and giving it to the people for free who wanted to hear, Skip music. But I got a couple of more mixtapes that I will keep uploading for free. Ya’ll can have the mixtapes because I’m alright with the money. If ya’ll wanna listen to Skip, I’ll do that.

My whole thing, when I first started rapping, I didn’t think anybody would even like the music I make. I didn’t think nobody would listen to my shit. I didn’t even think I would have one fan at all. I be appreciative… for anybody who want to hear, Skip shit, I will make that shit and give ya’ll that shit. I got a thousand of these rhymes, man. I got some good music. I got one mixtape that I was supposed to drop, and I didn’t. It’s called, “No Features.” It’s because a lot of people be like, “Skip, you be on a lot of people songs. You be on everybody else’s songs.” So, I just did a mixtape with all me; hooks, verses, it’s all me. It’s about 8-songs, and then I still ain’t drop it. I should have been released it. Anybody looking for the music though, I’m on Live Mixtapes, Datpiff; Skip of UTP. I got free downloads. I got a couple of mixtapes, “Uptown,” “Downtown.” I did a whole New Orleans series called, “Uptown-Downtown: Fuckin’ And Duckin’. I have 1,2, and 3. It’s 3 mixtapes on that one.

Definitely gotta put that out.

Skip: I gotta release it.

You mentioned being frustrated with the game. Do you feel like eventually greed ended something that could have been major?

Skip: Everybody look at it like, “Man, ya’ll made it,” but nigga gotta really analyze shit and look heavy into that. Man, we had one of the hottest songs in the country, why didn’t we have a second single (laughing)? We didn’t even get a second single, my nigga. When you think about it now, for a song of that magnitude [Nolia Clap], why didn’t we get a second single?

Do you have the answer to that question?

Skip: It was just the label and business wasn’t bout us.

You keep in touch with, Wacko?

Skip: Yeah, I still talk to, Wacko. I’m standing right here by, Juve right now to tell you the truth. We right here playing dominoes.

Do you ever feel like you will go as hard in the music industry again as you are currently going in the restaurant business?

Skip: It’s more business endeavors. The investments you gotta make into rap right now for the return. You gotta be ready to invest a half-a-million right now for the return in the rap game right now. For a half-a-million, I can open up two more chicken spots with the drive thru and all that and do way more for the community and make way more money. The business of the aspect in the return is different if I wasn’t into the franchise or was just getting the franchise. But now I own the franchise and if I franchise it out, it’s a different wave of money.

Are you planning on opening new stores and where can we find them now?

Skip: Ah man, I got two more about to open; drive thru. I’m trying to open like five more and then I’m going to try to go for IPO. I got a real chance to IPO this shit which is when you get enough people to want to buy shares and you go into the stock market. You go public for public trade. Your company go for public trade. But then I’m thinking, I may not even go for IPO. It may get so big; I could just stay independent. I understand what I got.

If you franchise out, will it be important to keep the recipes and sauces intact?

Skip: Ah man, we got over 80 flavors, but we got base flavors that we make in-house. We have about 10 flavors that we make in-house. Nobody knows those recipes but me and my partner. We make them ourselves. But if we go franchise, we can go the bottling route. We thinking about bottling right now because we got so many sauces that we make.

You are an extremely intelligent entrepreneur and I can tell you want more. This isn’t it for you.

Skip: No. This ain’t it at all. I started when I was 9-years old. I was collecting cans; aluminum cans for the aluminum refinery, man. I been doing this. From bumming nickels at the gas station at 9. I’m just a hustler by nature. I got to have it. I come up po-po. And the motivation to being po drove me to have something. I’m never going to not have nothing again.

Keep making us proud, let me know if you need anything and it was an honor speaking to you, Skip.

Skip: That’s love… Boom!

 

 

 



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