Ben and Skin have been together so long that they probably have a common-law marriage in several states. Courtesy of Ben Rogers

Arts & Entertainment

Jeff ‘Skin’ Wade and the Record Label That Wants to Change Dallas

As our feature profile of Ben and Skin goes live, a look at a side project that wants to help some Dallas nonprofits and has more than a few big names participating.

Hopefully you’ll be entertained by a story I wrote in this month’s issue (“Brothers From Another Mother,” which is online today). On the surface, it’s about Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade, two guys who do a radio show. But it’s really about childhood friendships and hip-hop and the vicissitudes of life and taking creative risks. Inspired by their journey, I took a risk in how I chose to bring you their narrative, inviting them to collaborate in the storytelling rather than just serve as subjects. You’ll see.

In any case, the device I used forced me to omit something about Skin. As much fun as it is to tease him about his early career as a White rapper, the guy to this day is a legit music producer, and he’s working on a very cool initiative that deserves serious attention. It’s called the Truth to Power Project, and it involves another old friend of his.

“As much fun as it is to tease him about his early career as a White rapper, the guy to this day is a legit music producer, and he’s working on a very cool initiative.”

Skin met Luke Sardello in the late ’80s when the latter was working at the famed Bill’s Records and the former was picking through the mess of vinyl there. Sardello now co-owns Josey Records, the largest record store in Texas, which bought the stock of Bill’s Records after the 75-year-old Bill Wisener died behind his cash register last year.

Sardello and Skin now run a record label called Eastwood Music Group, and on June 12, for Record Store Day, they are dropping a triple LP set whose tracks will be filled by an impressive list of artists from North Texas and beyond. To name a few: Leon Bridges, Keite Young, S1, Black Pumas, Bastards of Soul, Sarah Jaffe, BADBADNOTGOOD, and Sam Lao. The set will be released nationally on a limited-edition smoky clear vinyl, and Josey Records will carry a super exclusive Dallas Mavericks royal blue version.

This is more than a music release, though. The Truth to Power Project is a larger effort to address racism on several fronts. All profits from the record sales will go to organizations, like the national House of Blues Music Forward Foundation, that foster inclusivity and support marginalized communities. Locally, the Mavericks are onboard not only with financial support but also with marketing muscle and help making connections with Black-owned businesses. You’ll see creative stuff roll out on all sorts of screens. In short: more collaborations are coming.

That’s what I wanted to share with you. Oh, and one more thing: Ben and Skin’s friendship started on the basketball court. Neither they nor I can recall the exact circumstances of our first meeting, but a reasonable guess puts us on a Jewish Community Center court about 20 years ago.

If, after reading this, they get on the air and talk smack about how I tried to take too many charges in a pickup game, they are probably right.

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