Saturday, July 23, 2016

Exclusive Interview: Details on the music deals Roc Nation is signing with African talent

"Building the bridge between black America and Africa"

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending an intimate panel discussion and mixer held at Spotify. The goal? For industry insiders to get familiar with some of the top artists from the continent. While I was there, I got the chance to chat frankly with Jay-Z's cousin & Roc Nation executive Briant 'Bee-High' Biggs about the label's big leap into Africa.
This 2015 tweet from Tidal boss Jay-Z was a sign of things to come

Are you ready? I'm about to clue you in on Roc Nation's historic business approach to the continent.

To amplify impact, Nigeria had to be first. "For us, going to South Africa was basically useless because the majors were there. It made more sense to go to Nigeria because that's where film and music and everything else is happening" Bee High says.

He added on "Nigeria controls 75% of the music that's being played on the continent so going to into Nigeria made more logical sense."

Ice Prince with Jay Z

Getting scooped by a major is awesome but I think it's far more important that our African artists get the right kinda deals. Bee-High agrees. "Going there trying to sign up artists to Roc Nation one by one made no sense. I don't have the ear to know what's hot."

From left to right - Jay Z, Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy

"It made more sense for us to partner up with the individual artists and their labels out there and work out distribution deals with them. To give them proper distribution in the States and make sure they are getting proper publishing dollars and royalties. So by using our platform that we already built, we are giving them access to everything we have at our office to help them do the same. Build their brands and their companies like we did ours." 

After her performance last night in Brooklyn, Tiwa Savage threw up the Roc sign and the crowd erupted into applause.

The relationship between Roc Nation and Tiwa has brewing for some time but I was curious to know when Bee-High first met the captivating songstress? "The funny thing is I met Tiwa and Don Jazzy a couple of years ago when I first started coming up {to Nigeria.}We always talked. Every time I came to the country, I was going back and forth to their studio - hanging out with them. They reminded us of what we first did at Rock-a-fellla Records. When the time came and Jay was like 'yeah we could do these things' - they were the first people I went after."

So what's next? "We are going country by country. I am already talking to Sarkodie in Ghana to do something with him. I got something in Gambia, Gabon and Senegal. We have it all spread out. Even in South Africa I am grabbing one artist out of there."
Could it be one of these two? Who got next on Roc Nation- Cassper or AKA?

"Rap right now in South Africa is crushing. I already know who I want from South Africa." So who is it? I have my guesses yet I still pressed Bee-High for more info. "I have been talking to him already. Trust me. They put it in the news out there lightly. Until I get him on paper, I won't say nothing cause the wolves are out there" LOL! That is hilarious and so true. He continued on "So if I say it and they try to make a bidding war, it won't make sense"

Who do you think it is?

"The goal is not to re-colonize our people by music, the goal is to help uplift them and get us working together, Cause they have a sound that is transmitting around the world. Why can't we do it together?

So much respect for what they are doing, it's so clever. This is a brilliant cultural movement and will help African artists reach the broadest possible audience. Can't wait to hear and see what they got lined up next!

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