Hip-hop is taking corporate thugging to a new level these days. Last week news surfaced that Young Jeezy is slated to be occupy the Senior VP Of A&R position over at Atlantic Records. Shocked? Yes, you damn right we were. Not because we don’t think he’s capable, but for the simple fact that he’s still VERY active in making music AND is still sitting pretty over at Def Jam Records. Many questioned the surprise move stating the Snowman hasn’t REALLY broken any artist that have attained mainstream success (the verdict is still out on Freddie Gibbs who is currently making a lot of noise underground.)
When you think of A&R, you think dot connector pretty much. Someone who has an ear for impeccable talent in regards to all facets of the music industry. The A&R’s main objective is not to match their artists with the best and biggest producer, songwriter and/or artist, but to match them with the key characters that can bring the best out of THEIR artist. Connecting sounds, ideas, theories and all that fun stuff that goes into make a QUALITY product and not just a hit record.
Over the weekend I pondered on the current and active artists today in regards of who in the hell could occupy an A&R seat at these major labels. I did a lot of back and forth with myself, which was fun to be quite honest and came up with these five artists. You may agree, you may not but that’s why I call this a candid conversation so you can supply your input in the comments section below. Ok, ready? Let’s get to it.
Rick Ross: The man has the GOLDEN touch. You would’ve thought this big breasted man was an A&R in his past life they way he’s connected dots for himself, Wale, Meek Mill and now even Omarion. Not that he ushered a new sound in with his beat selection but the Miami native made it clear that he’s not only one of the leaders of the game but a student of the studio as well. However, I won’t sit here and lie to you: I was slightly disappointed with GFID. Not that it wasn’t good, but sound wise, aside from the two JUSTICE League contributions, I expected more. But, I can assure you Meek’s debut project will have that GOLDEN touch written ALL over it.
Drake: Despite his creeptified obsession with Aaliyah, Aubrey can make a hit. And whoever he allows in the studio with him to create will damn sure come out with one as well. Not only is the kid a prolific songwriter (see Alicia Keys “Unthinkable”) but the Toronto Titan has been very adamant in keeping a tight circle of producers within his reach like his go to guys Noah “40” Shebib”, T-Minus and Boi-1da. The kid also can spot a hit tune a mile away as well. Take “Tony Montana” by Future. Couldn’t stand that shit and Mr. Graham turned it into a nationwide hit, no? And not for nothing, whether you like it or not, Sherbert is probably going to make that Aaliyah album sound as if she was alive and well today. But that’s just my opinion.
Kanye West: Common? Big Sean? Pusha T? Hell, even Jay-Z? Who can’t this fella push the envelope with. Mr. West has a knack for bringing diverse worlds together and making them sound like they were born that way. More notably, he does it even better for HIMSELF. You look at the progression from College Drop Out (Plain Pat, Whad up?) to Watch The Throne (even though that was a joint album), you ask yourself : is that the SAME person from 2004 with the SAME ear? Hell no. Hell YES! Elevating his sound to the point of no return. And just when you think it can’t get any better? Mr. West denounces that gesture and takes you a step higher. And even if you’re NOT under his wing, he STILL gives you the juice to make it do what it do (see Chief Keef). Not that Common was dead in the water back in the early 2000’s, but when Yeezy came along in 2005 executive producing BE followed by Finding Forever? Well, you get my drift. Lord only knows what he’s going to do with Pusha T.
Kendrick Lamar: I know it’s early and the kid has yet to put out a major debut project, but boy his sound is SHARP. Section 80, a project deemed better than some of your favorite artists BEST projects highlighted a gritty sound that wasn’t really the “thing to do” last year. Especially with the “Trap Rap” sound taking hold of our ears at every second. Not only is HIS material flourishing to new heights, the entire TDE family, which I’m SURE he offers his creative ideas when necessary, have followed in his foot steps in cultivating their own signature sounds. In his recent cover story in the 2012 September issue of XXL Magazine, the Compton comrade revealed good kidd, mAAd city will sound NOTHING like Section 80. Let that marinate for a minute.
Beyonce : Being married to one of the greatest to ever do it probably has some perks. But don’t get it twisted, Queen Bee has been putting on for R&B for quite some time now, no? Dangerously In Love, Beyonce’s solo introduction to the world not only showcased and highlighted her vocal abilities, but showed her diverse ear in production. B’Day brought on a more urban feel captivating and old soulful sound while still keeping up with her peer whilst shitting on them in the same breath. I Am….Sasah Fierce an 4, to me, was a dangerous meshing of the those first two projects with an international feel that raised a lot of eyebrows in R&B. A lot of worried eyebrows at that because of how YOUNG she was and is. And the fact that she’s only FOUR albums deep. Now….take ALL of that and let her craft a project for an artist of her own and tell me she can’t A&R a project.
Ok ladies and gents, those are my 5 artists who I think could serve as successful A&R’s in today’s game. Don’t agree, which some of you might not, slide into that comments section and get to typing. Hope you guys enjoyed my thoughts!