Shopping habits have changed greatly over the last several years. As a result, shopping malls have had to re-envision what they are in order to survive. Sure, you can still find shoe stores, a couple of big anchor stores, and a plethora of women’s clothing stores. But you can also now find things like mini-bungee jumping, children’s play areas, massage chairs, and even recording studios like Waxtrackz at Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne.
Dennis Watson, the man behind Waxtrackz, hopes to add a special element to the mall experience by exposing a whole new crowd to the world of professional hip-hop recording.
Watson relocated his studio from the south side of the city to the mall last year and has enjoyed a decent amount success. When he made this move, it wasn’t just an experiment, it was a permanent relocation. To put it mildly, he was “all in.”
Watson said in a recent interview with Whatzup that the move was extremely hard on him both emotionally and financially since it meant he had to leave behind most of his clientele while simultaneously absorbing the expense of building a new studio.
“I was living at the warehouse (his former studio) at the time (of his move) and the landlord didn’t want me there. I had sold my house to invest in my music career, so when I moved into the mall, I was homeless.”
As fate would have it, one of Watson’s relatives came to the rescue and offered him a place to stay while he worked on the new studio.
“I had nowhere to go and I was sleeping in my truck. My cousin saw that and was like, ‘Come over to my house.’”
An additional challenge of opening his new studio came as Watson mostly had to go it alone. And then, of course, there was the challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It really seemed like the deck was stacked against him. And according to Watson, there was still nothing built only a week before he was supposed to open the doors at the new mall location. There wasn’t a wall built, a sign hung, or a piece of equipment installed.
“I was still shocked as to what I did and how I drastically I changed my life, as far as not having a house a place to go,” he said. “Then my brother gets shot and ends up in the hospital. That changed the celebration of being in here to feeling like I wanted to throw all of it away.”
He quickly realized, however that he had work to do and that the mall really wanted him to be successful, so he refocused his energy into getting the studio built.
“I had to be here night and day,” Watson said. “I’d fall asleep, wake up and start nailing again. I’d wait for the paint to dry and literally never leave, except to visit my brother in the hospital. There are real deal tears here and these walls stand because I didn’t make a bad choice. Because I didn’t act on my anger. That fueled the fire to stay here and build this whole thing.”
When he finally opened, Watson said it immediately became apparent that every client who came through the doors was not a client that he used to record. They were all new people discovering his studio for the first time.
“It’s hard to feel a certain kind of way when I’m seeing all the new faces coming through the door, so that just kind of wrapped me back around to just getting back into the dream mode again. All of a sudden, I was like, I need to get my mind back in my music and doing things I need to do.”
Despite the sorrow and heartache he’s experienced recently, Watson goes on because he believes it will all be worth it in the end and because he wants to give back to the community that has given him so much.
To that end, he has started a voucher program where donors can sponsor young artists that don’t have the money to record themselves and has sponsored talent contests in the past, looking for that one talent he can help develop and give a voice when they might otherwise not have had the chance to shine.
If you’ve ever envisioned yourself recording but never had confidence that you would sound good enough, Watson says there’s no need to worry once you’ve walked through the doors of Waxtrackz. He has the talent, knowledge, and skills to make anyone sound like a million-album selling artist.
“The reason that I’m here and the reason that I have the clients that I have is because I’m good. I’ve been doing it for 20 to 25 years. Nobody can do hip-hop music like me. I don’t care who you go to or where you go, you will have to leave this town to get what I have. I’m the closest to the industry sound, as far as rap goes, that you can find.”
Connect with us: