Kenny Brown and Adam Garrett are Smush Gang Entertainment, a company that believes Palm Coast’s youth deserves more.
Kenny Brown and Adam Garrett met at a middle-school dance. Kenny liked a girl that Adam was “dating.” High jinks ensued. They’ve been best friends ever since.
Today, each in their late-20s, the two share a house in the B-section and share dreams of creating a self-sustaining entertainment culture in Palm Coast. They want to create a “scene,” and they hope to do it through their company, Smush Gang Entertainment.
With 1,300 fans tallied on their month-old Facebook page, they believe they’ve found their audience.
“We want to bring Hollywood to Palm Coast,” Brown said.
Turning knobs on disc jockey equipment and scrolling through songs on his computer, Brown explained that he and Garrett used to be in the rap game. They’ve recorded with national acts, been featured in Ozone Magazine and even landed an audition with Rock-a-fella Records, he said — Jay-Z’s label. But the group split before its big day.
Eight years later, when Brown moved to Flagler in 2010, the two got back behind the microphone. That’s when the idea of Smush Gang started taking root.
Two massive speakers at his back, Brown tweaks the tempo to Lady Gaga songs, mixing the beats with rap tracks and siren sounds, distorting the message, making it new.
“Anybody can be a DJ these days,” he said, “as long as they have the right equipment.”
In the past three months, he and Garrett estimate they’ve spent about $6,000 on sound and video equipment.
Neither went to school for music or video production.
“It’s self-education,” Garrett says. “You can go take a college class … or you can buy the books from the class and teach yourself.”
Although music was its first passion, Smush Gang is more about using all media to create a unified community presence and promoting an artistic, youth-driven way of life.
Brown and Garrett record songs and put them online for free; they contract for weddings and music-video creation; they DJ events and throw anything from mild birthday bashes to rave-like foam parties, where a room is filled with suds.
In the second half of June, they threw two parties in Flagler that attracted about 600 guests.
But Smush Gang isn’t their primary company. Pass them during the day and you’d think they were ordinary businessmen. They’re members of Rotaract, and registered with the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates — but not as Smush Gang. They’re registered under Brown & Garrett Enterprises, the cleaning company they formed in order to fund their moonlighting careers.
“Sometimes in business you have to do what is mandatory to get your brand out there,” Brown said. “(Cleaning’s) recession-proof. Things always get dirty.”
A part-time working stiff, Brown said it’s almost like he wears two different faces around town: one of the cut-and-dry entrepreneur and another of the rapper who is known for crazy parties.
He’s 28, but next to the older members of the chamber, he said, he feels like a baby.
“I have two companies,” he said. “I work 60 to 70 hours a week. So on the weekend, I want to cut up … and just have a good time.”
The problem, however, is that “cutting up” is a lot easier out of Flagler, where there are bigger, and several more venues that attract twenty- and thirtysomethings.
Combined, Garrett and Brown have thrown an estimated 120 professional parties, from Washington, to Texas, and all over Florida.
In major markets, they said their events average about 900 guests. In Flagler, they average about 300, which they describe as “historic” for the area.
Brown and Garrett’s push for youthful entertainment in Flagler, to them, is a constant struggle against the city’s homegrown “old mentality.” Because so few local venues could accommodate a Smush Gang party, they travel to Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando.
“You can’t really complain about something if you’re not willing to put in the work to make it change,” Brown said.
Long-term, they hope to open their own venue, a nightclub, coffee shop or bar. But until then, they’re in the process of seeking sponsors to support a Flagler music festival, what they describe as a “one-day Bonnaroo.”
“It can be something that can be annual, that can be positive, that can be youth-driven. And it can be held in Palm Coast,” Brown said.
He cites the dollars Daytona Beach brings in from Bike Week and how much weekend money St. Augustine collects from out-of-county club-hoppers.
“And it’s kind of sad … from a business perspective … Why would Flagler let all those entertainment dollars leave the county?” he asked. “Instead of trying just to keep money in Flagler County, let’s try to get people outside of Flagler to come in.”
In the next couple of weeks, Garrett and Brown plan to approach the city with their festival idea, after further market research and campaigning.
“Sell the aspect that the whole community can make money,” he said.
Together, Garrett and Brown hope to solidify a local “youth voice,” possibly by forming a youth committee, to guarantee an under-30 presence in city/county government talks.
“The 18- to 30-year-old is the (city’s main) taxable demographic for the next 30 years or so,” Brown said. “If you can prove to politicians that they can get the youth vote, they might tailor their actions (accordingly).”
Smush Gang was born out of boredom, Garrett explained, a movement to ignite a youthful spirit in the duo’s new hometown, attract like-minded people to hang out with on the weekends, feed the creative flame.
“It’s a movement,” Brown said, “And it’s growing. And we’re going to use the power of art, and the power of social media, to get our point across in Palm Coast.”
For more, go to www.facebook.com/smushgang.
Contact Mike Cavaliere at [email protected] coastobserver.com.