As some of you have likely heard by now, Top Dawg Entertainment — label home of Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul(collectively known as Black Hippy) — has signed a co-distribution deal with Interscope records. Kendrick will be distributed by TDE/Aftermath/Interscope, and it’s this separation that very much concerns me.
Let me start first by saying that I practically worship Andre Young, the man better known to the world as Dr. Dre. I’ve been a fan since the first time I heard The Chronic, a feeling not all that dissimilar to my first interaction with actual chronic but that’s a story for another time, and am one of the many people still anxiously awaiting the Detox album that will probably never drop.
For those who weren’t aware, Dre is not exactly known for handling up-and-coming artists very well. Sure, he broke Eminem back in the 90s, but since then he managed to screw up contracts with Raekwon tha Chef, Rakim, and Joell Ortiz just to name a few. Even Busta Rhymes career stagnated during the brief period that he was signed with Doc and Jimmy. Any readers have fond memories of The Big Bang? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I’m kind of worried that we’re never going to see the release of Kendrick’s Good Kid in a Mad City. I’m talking, “You might as well call that project Greatest Story Never Told Part 2: Aftermath Edition cause you’re about to get benched like Saigon” levels of worried. I imagine peddling mediocre headphones, HP laptops, and Dr. Pepper hasn’t done much by way of decreasing the amount of time it takes Dre to finish a project either.
Setting aside Kendrick’s solo deal, I don’t doubt that Interscope will press up a few copies of whatever projects Schoolboy, Ab, Jay Rock, and Black Hippy as a group drop next. Will they get the marketing and promotion they deserve? Probably not. For now, let’s just hope that signing with Aftermath and Interscope wasn’t the first nail in the coffin of Kendrick or Black Hippy’s career. Because we really need more voices like these four in hip hop.