If you walk through the doors of Royalty Life Records on any given Sunday evening, you won’t see white-collared, middle-aged men discussing ways to dominate the music industry. Instead, you'll see a group of young gentlemen, no older than 23, discussing the agenda of a full-fledged independent recording company.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the face of Royalty Life Records (RL): Lameck Lukanga (aka Humble), founder and CEO of one of Albuquerque’s hardest-working independent labels. Only two-and-a-half years deep and RL has signed three successful artists and sold more than 20,000 albums on the streets alone. And it's all thanks to good leadership and a company based on good old-fashioned values.
Royalty Life's motto is “death before dishonor.” Before the tax write-offs and business licenses, the company was a common dream shared by Humble and a group of close peers. “This industry can drive a sane man insane and destroy just as much as it builds,” Humble says, “but that’s what separates Royalty Life from any other company. We were brothers way before businessmen.”
At 21, Humble was nominated for this year's New Mexico Business Weekly 40 Under 40 awards. He won and became the youngest candidate ever inducted. “It was a great feeling to be nominated with this award, but it’s not just my accomplishment—it’s a Royalty Life accomplishment."
Royalty Life mainly works with hip-hop recording artists but plans to expand into several genres over the coming years. Humble says he'd eventually like to sign all kinds of acts, from hip-hop to blues to rock. “We're diversified in the Southwest. No large music corporations have even begun to dig in this regional gold mine.” In the meantime, Humble is hustling to get his artists' names out. He relies on a promotion team that floods the streets with Jigzaw and Cooley Sha albums.
“New Mexico is not what marketers refer to as a 'Type-A' market,” Humble says. “I don’t care how talented you are, no single artist can break an entire region; so it's up to us as independent musicians to educate ourselves about this industry and pioneer the Southwest.” RL is open to working with new artists in an attempt to give the voiceless a voice and unite Southwest musicians under one roof. True, this industry is tough, but “you don’t have to step on each other’s backs just to get where you gotta go," Humble says. "You can help everyone around you. It may take a little longer to get there, but once you do, you can never fall.”