Wait. So Labels Are Doing The Right Thing? – The Artists

21 Jun

In my last entry I talked about how major record labels are finally doing the right thing by signing new, young artists that don’t easily fit into the box of mainstream radio, and how they can be just as successful as their less talented counterparts if they’re given the same amount of investment, support and development. Here, I give a brief overview of each of the young emcees that have been snatched up by major labels.

Wale / Interscope Records

Location: Washington, D.C.
Story: Read B. Perk’s URB article. Protege of Grammy-winning producer Mark Ronson, Wale made his rounds with several self-released mixtapes and performances before spawning the regional hits like “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.” and iTunes Single of the Week alumni “Nike Boots.” Right after his guest appearance on The Roots’ lead single, “Rising Up,” he announced his signing to Interscope.
Claims to Fame: “Nike Boots,” “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.”
In A Nutshell: Fun without being stupid, fly without focusing on it, “conscious”/opinionated without being preachy/polarizing
Cosigns: Via pictures and/or vocal support: The Roots, Jay-Z, Travis Barker, Lindsay Lohan, etc.
Listen Up: The Mixtape About Nothing, and the hyperlinks in “Story” above are older mixtapes

Pacific Division / Universal Music

Location: Los Angeles
Story: Read my DXNext article. This Los Angeles trio is one of the few acts these days to really gain success solely based off their music. Ever since releasing their Sealed For Freshness blend tape in ’06, these cats have gotten press all over the place, and other artists have taken note: J Dilla enlisted the two for a song off of his Jay Love Japan project, and everybody from Pharrell to ?uestlove has recognized game. Being MySpace Artists of the Week and having a self-operated blog have done wonders for their exposure, too.
Claims to Fame: “Women Problems,” “Fat Boys ’08,” “No Homo”
In A Nutshell: As they say themselves: “Niggas who wear diamond earrings and live in apartments. Niggas who sppend they last $5 on a beer, and not get no food.” Fly, fun-loving emcees who are as relatable as they are talented, and who respect their predecessors.
Cosigns: ?uestlove, Pharrell, Snoop, 9th Wonder
Listen Up: Sealed For Freshness Blendtape, MySpace page for newer songs

Wiz Khalifa / Warner Bros.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Story: Wiz Khalifa found his success the hard way: by releasing his own quality material, and letting the streets and hip-hop circles catch on. A year after debuting with the Big Mike-hosted Prince of the City: Welcome To Pistolvania in 2005, his independently-released album Show And Prove astounded industry heads. He would go on to share the stage with everyone from Nas and Lupe Fiasco to Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, and Warner Bros. wisely snatched him up.
Claims to Fame: “Pittsburgh Sound,” “Say Yeah”
In A Nutshell: Aside from his first single “Say Yeah” being fueled by a popular sample by 90s singer Alicia Deejay’s “Better Off Alone,” Wiz Khalifa is admirably non-gimmicky. No streetwear shtick, no big-name cosigns, no notable collaborations. But he’s lyrically-sound, he’s got a nimble flow, he raps well about what he knows, and he’s got a penchant for making complete songs instead of random 16’s.
Cosigns: None
Listen Up: Prince of the City 2, Show and Prove


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