It takes a true talent to really understand an artists vision and making sure it comes to fruition the proper way. It’s a confusing time, especially when terms like “authenticity” and “organic” have ironically become standard marketing jargon within the music industry. How do you strategize being real? Well it automatically translates from simply not compromising. Traditional methods are no longer relevant, let the artist be just that, and fight for what you believe in. Odd Future’s manager Christian Clancy gets it.
I am… a father, a husband, a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, passionate, a dog guy, a dichotomy of myself, a terrible liar, impatient at times, a closet metalhead, a recovering sneaker head, spiritual, part time white trash/part time wannabe black guy, much less materialistic than I used to be, and incredibly grateful to work with insanely talented driven people.
My job is to… give artists that I work with and am passionate about the best opportunity to be successful without compromise.
The fact that I allow myself to be stressed… is such a waste of time and energy. Problems will always replace problems for the rest of my life, all I can control is my reaction to them. Although I will say waiting on people who are late pisses me off sometimes but I get over it. That and pre-roll advertising!
As far as life changing music… I’d have to say Eazy E ‘s “Easy Duz It” album. It was my first rap album. At the time I was rocking a full blown mullet, muscle T’s and a fannypack. Terrible. I was in AZ after my mom moved us out of Philly when I was 14. I was a metalhead. Everything from the heavy stuff like Metallica, Slayer and Sabbath to the hair metal shit like Skid Row, Ratt and Iron Maiden. Maiden was at the top. Nobody messed with Iron Maiden.
I remember my friend Scott played me LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad” and I loved it but then I heard Eazy and was like holy fuck, what is that?! I couldn’t believe the shit he was saying. It was heaven to a pissed off teenager because it pissed off everyone else. I listened to that album nonstop driving around in my red Toyota pickup with 40″ Mickey Thompson mud tires. The energy wasn’t that different from the stuff I was listening to but it was refreshing as hell and its all I listened to until I heard NWA. Then my head exploded. The other contender for life changing would be Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction.”
I admire people… who believed in something and went for it without allowing people outside of them to dictate or manipulate the process. I admire people who are are in it for the right reasons (or at least what I consider the right reasons). I admire people who are honest, especially in situations where it would be easier to lie. I admire people who are able to stay calm under intense pressure. Off top for a myriad of reasons I admire my wife, Rick Rubin, Paul Rosenberg, Steve Berman, Steve Jobs, Fiona Apple, Tool, Jay-Z, Richard Branson and all the artists I work with. There’s a lot more but I’m tired.
My favorite hip-hop album is… hmmmm… that’s impossible to narrow down because I like different albums for different reasons at different points in my life… if I HAD to make a list it would be Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem, Eazy Duz It – Eazy E, Amerikkkas Most Wanted – Ice Cube, Reasonable Doubt – Jay-Z, Ready to Die – Notorious B.I.G., Straight Outta Compton – NWA.
I am happiest when… the underdog wins. Their way.
I dislike the machine… when executive ego’s override talent and passion. Laziness. 90% of label “marketing” meetings. People who believe they know it all. Manufactured hype. Executives who think they are artists, a few at the top who try and redefine loyalty around their ego, radio politics, using the same damn producers, product placement that isn’t authentic in exchange for promotion or money, shortcuts, those who lead by using fear as motivation and in same vein any direction or decisions that are based in fear. Market research, asking DJ’s to pick a single, doing the obvious, 360 deals… Okay I think that’s it for now, oh yeah and again that damn pre-roll advertising. Don’t they realize they are tying the emotion of annoyance with their brand? I don’t get it.
In the music industry’s present… a lot of people talk about how this is a terrible time in the record business and in a lot of ways they are right. Truth is the “record business” is already dead but there has never been a better time to be in the music business which is very different and wide open. Kids could give a shit about soundscan and BDS and labels only use these archaic means of defining success which means a ton of talented artists either get lost in the system or they try and play the game and only lose themselves in the process. Labels are screwed because all they do is shuffle around the same executives that put us in this situation. There is no new thinking. Its literally the same 30 people going from label to label and getting raises while cutting out middle management to save costs.
The only way they will survive is if they gut the system, sink the ship and rebuild from the ground up. The whole thing: the way deals are structured, the way money is spent, the departments, everything… It’s all embarrassingly outdated and out of touch with culture. Sure they can get a few hits here and there but long term they are fucked because the wall between them and true artists is too thick now. 360 deals aren’t the answer unless the labels are rebuilt to facilitate them. The only way i would ever give up 20% to a label for any ancillary business if they are bringing in 40%, otherwise it makes zero sense. Labels are becoming less and less necessary or even relevant.
The more talented and resourceful you are as an artist the less you need them. The internet is distribution for your brand. If you have a vision and aren’t a manufactured type of artist you have more opportunity now than ever. That doesn’t mean it’s easy and there are things labels offer to speed up the process but at what expense. True emotion will find its match, it may not happen as fast as you would like but if you stick to it you have as good a chance as anyone on a major who is resting their career on what a very few “gatekeepers” think. The gate keepers need a new set of keys. Kids are the new gatekeepers and have taken the power back. When you are real it’s not about “marketing” its about exposing to the right people at the right time and being able to be fluid and not stuck to some sort of “marketing plan.” Fear is what keeps most people stuck. It’s an exciting time if you have the balls to dive in.
When it comes to drugs… truth is I’ve done a lot of drugs in my life, most when I was younger. Cocaine took away my soul and put me in rehab when I was 19. After that prescription pills numbed me for over seven years until I felt like a shell of myself and I’ve had a lifelong on and off relationship with marijuana. Not in a stoner sense but in a end of the day smoke a joint sense. To me its no different than a glass of wine. I can’t lie, I’ve come up with some of my best ideas at night high when I worked at Interscope. It sometimes helped me hyper focus. On the other hand if I smoke too much it tends to nudge some depression issues I dealt with when I was younger. So in short my first advice would be no drugs at all… if any, weed seems to cause the least issues. There’s no domestic violence on weed, just empty potato chip bags.
When it comes to dreams… follow them. If you feel it, go for it. Fuck fear. Follow passion not money. I believe passion is your GPS system, the money will follow if you are truly doing what you love. Chasing money only leads to chasing more money and never feeling fulfilled.
My mentor once told me… 1. Stop, breathe, do the best you can and stay out of the results. 2. Don’t live in the chapter, think of the book. What’s bad today may be the catalyst for good tomorrow. 3. Try and live at the bottom of the ocean (stillness) and look up at the waves (stress). When you need to go up, bring a surfboard.
The strangest moment for me… I’m so used to strange moments its normal. I’m stumped on this one.
The proudest moment for me… was Tyler winning the MTV Award. Not because of the award itself but for what it represented. For that moment, we did it. And we did it our way. Seeing the whole group on stage smiling from ear to ear was incredible. We had just flown home that morning from playing the Reading Festival the day before. It was surreal. Also hearing Franks new album. Fucking insane, especially with all the pressure.
2012 is going to be… make or break. Doing things differently nowadays requires going straight up against the system and sometimes that means burning some bridges in order to stand up for what you believe. I guess I can always hit up UPS if this doesn’t pan out.
Photography: Brook Bobbins
In the fall semester of 2006, Student Hip-Hop Organization was founded at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Since then, it has branched to surrounding universities and has played an integral part in Virginia’s hip-hop scene while cultivating the minds of their campuses and communities.
The organization is known for its quality, independent spirit, and most importantly, authenticity. It has become an institution and creative platform for students and artists to gain experience and find opportunity in their individual passions. SHHO strives to promote higher learning through hip-hop.
The organization has selectively worked with the best up-and-coming artists, hip-hop legends, like-minded companies, and passionate student – talents all who have established SHHO as an organic uncompromising brand.