Universal Republic’s Director of A&R Nigil Mack has shared his input on the music industry and denied the notion you still have to know somebody to make it big these days.
Mack believes now, more than ever, is the era of the underdogs.
“I would say the dope thing about it is the virals. I feel like if you’re a manager on an independent label, and you really got a dope, compelling artist, and a dope plan you could really have a shot. This is the era now of the underdogs. ‘Cause it used to be you used to have to know this person, you used to have to have connections. Now if you’re really dope, you don’t need connections, people are gonna come to you regardless. So, that’s what I think has changed, I think it’s leveled the playing ground like the underdogs could get in now, you know?” (XXL Mag)
He also killed the notion that social buzz can make or break an artist.
“I’m not gonna lie. It does, but that’s just one factor, though,” Mack added when asked if high YouTube views and social site support matters. “It still boils down to the music and the artist. That stuff will get you a look, but if you’re not really a star or it’s official, I can’t speak for every A&R, but just speaking for me I’ll look but that don’t mean I’ll do anything. There’s certain things that’s old school that ain’t gonna change, like you still have to be a star and it still has to make sense to do the deal. There’s a lot of people with views, a lot of people with big YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter numbers and you can’t sign ‘em. They kind of suck, so it’s about looking under the hood to see if it’s real or not.” (XXL Mag)
Last winter, Dipset A&R Duke Da God talked to SOHH about how aspiring artists can get a shot at fame through the Diplomats.
“I’m definitely looking for new talent,” Duke told SOHH about recruiting new artists. “I’m always looking for talent. Araab Muzik, I’ve been working with him for the past four or five years but I had to find him too. I have A-Mafia, working with him. Artists just have to e-mail me and I check every e-mail that hit my inbox. The first 30 seconds will determine if I’m going to listen to the whole sh*t. Artists have to remember to send me quality, not quantity, with their records. You can send it to [email protected] I check it religiously and music doesn’t go into my inbox without me checking it. Justin Biebercould have sent me something, anybody. I don’t miss out on opportunities. And we’re definitely looking to build up and get ready for the future. I’m looking for young artists, not old artists. It’s all good, but I’m looking for young artists.” (SOHH)
In 2010, G-Unit producer Sha Money XL talked to SOHH about landing his position as Def Jam’s Senior VP of A&R.
“Honestly, I’m from Hollis, Queens, born and raised in Queens Village, and Jam Master Jay was the first dude to really put me on being that when you think of Hollis, Queens, you gotta think of Run-DMC, Jam Master Jay, the illest rappers to ever do it,” Sha told SOHH. “Coming from Queens, starting the whole sh*t for hip-hop on a platinum level and you take that legacy with Russell Simmons, mix it up with the same Hollis streets that I walked in, the fact that I was mentored by Jam Master Jay, who is d*mn near the f*cking Def Jam. You put all of that in a melting pot and then you got me, who knows how to do it from a street level to a corporate level in the music. I’m a music man, you know what I mean? Not just a snob, exec-type dude. I do this music sh*t for real and I know what’s needed and they knew my vision was real and seen what I did with 50 [Cent], what me and 50 did with G-Unit. We built that brand from the basement to the building so it only made sense that my next step would be an executive calling shots to make sure hip-hop moves where hip-hop needs to move.” (SOHH)