Bio Cornelius Brown (CEO of M.A.D.D Records)
Cornelius Brown (better known as Mask) grew up in the 9th ward New Orleans. He was shifted as a child between relatives due to his mother and father being incarcerated most of his childhood life. Cornelius grew up in a war zone in the United States. One in which the people of the 9th ward could be described as more of a 3rd world country. The impoverished area was an area of danger and despair for the young boy. Cornelius found safety in music and in sports. As he became older he began having to survive on the streets and started committing crimes against the drug dealers in the neighborhood. He was like a Robin Hood of the 9th ward. As he became older he took on the role of his parents because it was all he knew and he ended up being incarcerated himself. While he was in prison he remembered to go to music for safety.
Mask founded MADD Records in 2003 (Manage Artists Develop Dreams) as a way give New Orleans youth a chance to have their unique sound heard. Mask applied his hustling skills and hit the streets with his first cd, giving everyone a taste of Madd Records. Over the first two years MADD Records expanded.
August 29th 2005 hurricane Katrina changed Cornelius’s life forever. Mask decided not to leave he didn’t think Katrina would be that bad. He evacuated the year before for hurricane Ivan that proved to be no real threat.. So you can see why he didn't leave for Katrina. He rode the storm out at the New Orleans Loew's hotel, were his girlfriend worked.
The day after Katrina was quite chaotic. There was a mandatory lock down of the hotel and no electricity. At 7pm the manager of the hotel made an announcement over the p.a. system. The hotel announced that the levee broke and there was major flooding. The hotel advised that the people needed to flee for their lives and seek shelter on higher lands. The main roads were backed up because of traffic and then they learned that the other two levees had also been broken.
Mask traveled in his Pontiac Bonneville with nine people in his car. There was no electricity and they had to avoid debris that was a potential danger to them getting stranded. The trip took them a day without food and there was no businesses opened to get gas for the car. They drove until they came to Baton Rouge where they listened to the radio for direction for shelter. The car had run out of gas and they had been worn out from the long drive. While stranded in their vehicle the radio announcer had listed a church that was in Baton Rouge that had room to take the homeless survivors in. They realized that they had broken down in front of the church that was across the street. Mask and his family realized it was an act of God that brought him and his family there. The family stayed at the church for shelter for 3 weeks. The church was busy collecting donations and one day came and offered them enough money to fly them to a place for them to have more permanent housing. Mask made the decision to fly to San Diego. So the family gathered their belongings and headed to the airport. Mask would have to surrender his vehicle to help his family. The one thing he did get out of the soon to be abounded car was a cd out of the cars cd changer.
Mask and the other nine family members fled Katrina’s wrath but the hard times were not over. Mask and his family boarded a plane from Baton Rouge to San Diego. Once they arrived in San Diego they stayed with relatives in 3 bedroom apartment. The home was crowded and Mask knew he would need to find a way to support his girl and kids soon so they could rebuild their lives.
Cornelius Brown had been searching for a way to support his family. During this time he looked for work at any place he could but when the companies found out that he had a previous criminal record they would not hire him. Things were looking grim and he did not want to go back to leading a criminal life in a new place. He had remembered all the good things people had done to help him out along this tragic path. He also remembered the Cd he had in his possession. Mask borrowed money and went to Fry’s Electronics and bought a CD burner and a box of blank CD’s. He began making CD’s and going back on the street and peddling CD’s for ten dollars a piece. Things were going well and Mask was able to support his family off of his CD sales.
After three months went by he bought a small keyboard and some equipment to build an area of his apartment into a music studio. He taught himself how to engineer the music and became a master at the keyboard. Mask began making a name for himself in the local areas and started to charge for some of the music he was helping others make. Mask started hanging out with musicians like the Delphonics and The Temptations. While hanging out at the Ike Turner studio one day Mask “Don’t just stand there pick up an instrument and play something”. There was a piano in the room and with all the fear in his heart he went to the keyboard and began to play along with the rest of them.
He was able to support his family and has never given up his dream. His goal was to help talented children develop their talents and keep them off the streets. As he remembered there was no guidance growing up with the exceptions of the musicians when he became older. Mask also began working and volunteering his time to local organizations such as UPACKA Center and the Learning Source. These are nonprofit community driven educational sources for young people to learn skills. These skills may include Sound Engineering, Mixing, and the use of Pro Tools software. These are all areas that Mask become a master at when he was back in New Orleans.
He and his girl have discussed returning to their home town but the cost of rent has tripled since they had fled. They feel that the government wants to keep the people from coming back and have made it impossible for most to return. Mask’s baby momma and son moved to Tennessee after the storm and he has not seen them since. This has been a great loss to him. The loss of his son and having his family broken up is why he wants to help the surviving victims of Hurricane Katrina. He also wants to help reunite family members so that they have the ability to be happy. With the rent being raised many of these families that been displaced are having to stay where they are because the cost is too difficult for them to afford. There are many people after six years that have become more poverty stricken because they did not have the money or the means to put their lives back together