Hip-Hop Hippies

They might be moguls: Meet Mike Landau and Brad Goldenberg, the minds behind Phat Buddha Productions

You see the car (you see the car!)

You see the house (you see the house!)

Na-na-na-na-na-now das dat bullshit!

Jennifer Silverberg
Phishheads Mike Landau (left) and Brad Goldenberg traded their Hacky Sacks for hip-hop tracks.
Jennifer Silverberg
Phishheads Mike Landau (left) and Brad Goldenberg traded their Hacky Sacks for hip-hop tracks.

The trappings of wealth and fame may be bullshit, but they're what aspiring hip-hop artists are after. Like a luxe hotel, Phat Buddha offers instant gratification in the form of full-service indulgence. Of course, far-reaching success is a trickier prospect — but few in the music business seem to want their success delivered in incremental doses.

Eight years after its inception, Goldenberg projects the business he and Landau birthed in a basement will bring in $350,000 in revenue in 2006. The company's Web division is expected to draw an additional half-million.

Those figures correlate nicely to the Chrysler 300 and the BMW 325, both new, in the Phat Buddha parking lot. Yet Goldenberg still rents his home from his parents, just as his dad rents the Phat Buddha property to the partners for a few thousand a month. On top of that, Goldenberg estimates it'll take ten years for the business to pay off the loans that got it started.

Chuckles Landau: "People think we're making millions of dollars."

"Or that we're worth millions of dollars," Goldenberg interjects. "But I'm in debt a million dollars. We're in deep! Seven figures invested. Over seven figures! Our chips are definitely in."

So they're more than a few years away from the Fortune 500, but running Phat Buddha does have its perks. As "Dat Bullshit" winds down, Goldenberg and Landau belly up to the VIP bar. Armed with fresh cocktails, they ride the couches with Clear Channel execs in a smaller, posher VIP nook, again under the gaze of Buddha figures mounted high on the walls. When they adjourn to the after-after-afterparty, they're the only white faces in the smoky, crammed hotel room.

The next morning they're on the road by eleven. Landau wants to be back at Phat Buddha when up-and-coming rapper Penelope arrives for her scheduled session, and Goldenberg needs to process the payroll by four o'clock. They make it home just in time.

Like Scarface, they've got the power. Now they just need to figure out how to keep it.

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