Grammy-winning rapper Ludacris recently explained the terms of his recording contract with Def Jam and offered some career advice for artists trying to reach commercial success.
According to the “Get Low” hitmaker, emcees should strive to find leverage prior to inking deals with major labels.
“I actualy wrote a song called ‘Tell It Like It Is,” Luda explained in an interview referring to his 2006 record. “And one of the things that I said was ‘The first thing I did was signed myself to myself,’ which was Disturbin’ Tha Peace Records and I incorporated it at a young age therefore if somebody wanted to sign me, they had to sign my company. I have a very unique deal, I came out with an independent album and I was selling records on my own, which gave me leverage when Def Jam came to me and said ‘We wanna sign you to a contract.’ So I’m sitting there saying well this is what I’m doing on my own, I’m already making this amount of money. What can you do for me that’s going to make me interested in signing to your company, so I definitely encourage everyone to get as much leverage as you can. The only way you can do that is by putting your b*lls on the table. All the way on it. Because man, it’s crazy, a lot of people want success and aren’t willing to do what it takes to get success or earn success.” (FUSE TV)
New York rapper Saigon recently talked about breaking free from Atlantic Records after being contractually stuck on the label over the past few years.
“I just got my release from Atlantic yesterday, literally,” he said in an interview last week. “I got my release, a good release, a fair release from the record company yesterday and moving forward, I’m not gonna position myself to be somebody’s artist to where they can just have me sitting around and not putting out music — I’m gonna play the game by my rules. That’s what I meant when I said I was quitting — I was quitting playing it their way, I’m doing it my way from now on. I love hip-hop…I own my masters now, I own Greatest Story Never Told, I own the masters. it was worth the wait…I’ve been trying to leave Atlantic since ’06. It’s the contract you sign [that’s so difficult.] The contract is 82 pages long.” (Soul Culture)
Luda’s Def Jam labelmate Fabolous also offered some advice to rap newcomers last summer.
“Really, I guess just coming in with not a lot of knowledge of what it takes to put out an album [is a mistake],” Fab explained in an interview. “Knowing the business relationship between you and your record label, a lot of people think it’s just going into the studio, being in the studio all night smoking and drinking and having your friends in there and then when the money don’t come back like it’s supposed to or the record labels taking every coin away from your album. Then they wanna look back and see what’s going on or flip out like, ‘Yo where’s my bread at?’ and it was there, but you ain’t do your business right. So I think everybody that comes in, you should talk with certain people or educate yourself to it by looking it up and checking out your business.” (SmackTube)
Luda has been signed to Def Jam for ten years.
In 2000 the Atlanta-based rapper signed to Def Jam’s newly established Southern rap subsidiary, Def Jam South, and became the label’s flagship Dirty South artist. Def Jam repackaged his underground album Incognegro (2000) as Back for the First Time (2000) and issued “What’s Your Fantasy?” as its lead single. (All Music)
Check out Ludacris’ interview below: