Jack Daniels Honey presents the Midwest Leak Awards 2017 lifetime achievement award winner Wiz, owner of Magnifiscents in Indianapolis. This is his story. As told to Le'Deana Brown, photos by Colli Media.
THE RISK TAKERS.
I rode past the building that is now home to Magnifiscents and Smoke 1 in 1995 when the Sam’s Shoes people were first building it. I’ll never forget I parked across the street and thought, “I need to be over there!” I was 22 years old and I saw myself there. Me, my brother and my partner went and got first and last months rent scraped up together and we got the building. Then once I got in it I was thinking, “What am I going to do with this building?” It’s not that I intended to make oils my niche. I would put oil on incense and I was wearing oils back then and everywhere I went people would ask me about it. I took a chance and then it worked out. The first day I opened we made $234. I looked at it as a good thing. I was selling $1 items, 10 mens oils and 10 womens. Now I have 988 oils on that list. I would name oils after people’s babies, whatever it took to get people in there.
Everybody wasn’t buying the oils at first so mixtapes were a way to get people in there. I started out losing money giving $12 cds and tapes for $8 and handing out an oil or car spray with a purchase. My goal was about 3-5 years later. A lot of people don’t think like that. None of the other stores from back then are in business right now since music wasn’t profitable anymore and the mixtape police started running around. When the mixtape police came to see me I told them I had been waiting on them. It messed them up! I asked them not to tear my shop up and told them they could take the mixtapes. There’s people still paying fines to the Feds for selling mixtapes.
‘SCENTS MADE SENSE
I’m rich with peace. I still struggle at times, but I’m humble. I don’t live outside of my means. I never thought I would sustain a lifestyle selling incense and oils or that this was going to be my lifestyle having Magnifiscents. I was counted out a month after I started. My own Mama told me I should quit and get a job. She only wanted what was best for me though and didn’t see my vision at the time. Y’all don’t know the pain I went through surviving the winter in my 20s selling incense and oils. I had stopped hustling...I felt like I had to make an initial sacrifice to make this work. Now I help other people with their businesses. I feel good about that. I don’t want anything from them.
FOR US, BY US.
I like to be a trendsetter and stay ahead of the curve. I opened Smoke 1 because there was a void. This is the only black owned head store in the city. I don’t feel that anybody outside of our community should own anything inside our community. Maybe a bank or something we can’t get yet, but we should work on getting that. In between Emerson and Arlington there should be no businesses owned by anyone other than black people. We are a food source to every other nationality. If we could realize Koreans are only selling hair because we are wearing it we would run the show. If on every block there can be a successful fish and chicken place then how valuable must our dollar be? Do you think they really care about the quality of the food they’re feeding us? We shouldn’t have anyone in our neighborhoods feeding us, but us. They don’t respect us because we don’t respect us.
I opened Magnifiscents in 1995. I didn’t put Issues the album out until 2002. I don’t know how to rap about fake stuff even though I don’t get mad at rappers who rap about fake stuff because it’s entertainment. I’ve always been one to rap from the heart, about social conditions. It affected kids, middle aged and older people. People say “the dude in the shop is deep!” not even knowing that I’m the owner or a rapper. It’s not that I’m deep it’s just me. What I speak is a consciousness that a lot of people yearn for. My store is my stage. It’s therapeutic. I get people that I learn from and people that learn from me. I only put out one album and that’s my biggest regret is stopping, I lost interest. I sold a lot of music though! I print out about 500 copies of my album every year and sell them. This is a fifteen year old album. The album was before its time. I’ve just been able to be a visionary to see what’s going to happen based on what’s currently going on. I’ve always just had that intuition to do that. Issues made an impact because people could relate to it. Music that you can relate to will never die. It’s timeless.
Visit Magnifiscents and Smoke 1 at 5207 E. 38th Street in Indianapolis. Get Issues the album now on iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.