Chris Schwartz

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The co-founder of RuffHouse Records, Chris Schwartz, is a Philadelphia native who has worked with some of the best-selling rap and R&B acts of the 1990s, including Cypress Hill, Kris Kross, the Fugees,…
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The co-founder of RuffHouse Records, Chris Schwartz, is a Philadelphia native who has worked with some of the best-selling rap and R&B acts of the 1990s, including Cypress Hill, Kris Kross, the Fugees, and Lauryn Hill. Schwartz grew up in the Philly suburb of Devon, Pennsylvania, where at 17, he decided to drop out of high school and join the U.S. Navy. After four years of military service, Schwartz returned to the Philadelphia Area and played in various local new wave bands. In 1985, the small, Philly-based R&B label Nicetown Records hired Schwartz to do local promotions, and not long after that, he did freelance rap promotions for Delicious Vinyl, Island, and Geffen. Around that time, Schwartz became the manager for Philly rapper Schoolly D, an innovator who was among the earliest gangsta rappers. It was in 1988 that Schwartz co-founded RuffHouse with producer Joe "The Butcher" Nicolo with a budget of only $400. The label, which was distributed by Enigma at first, struggled for a few years. But things started picking up for RuffHouse after securing a distribution deal with Columbia. In I991, RuffHouse had a huge seller in the self-titled debut album by gangsta rappers Cypress Hill. After that, the label enjoyed multi-platinum sales with albums by Kris Kross, the Fugees, and Lauryn Hill. Originally based in Philly's downtown area (which is called Center City), RuffHouse moved to Conshohocken, Pennsylvania in the mid-'90s (presumably to escape Philly's infamous business taxes). Schwartz, who served as executive producer on RuffHouse's big sellers, planned to launch a film company, Perimeter Pictures, in 1999.