CMG label head Jonny Shipes talks about signing a partnership with Sony RED, how being a small label has enabled him to make creative moves, and discovering Joey Bada$$.
The president of CMG and the man responsible for discovering rising talents like Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, Nipsey Hussle and Joey Bada$$, Johnny Shipes sat down with Vibe and talked about what it takes to recognize new talent, being an "indie" label, and their big new partnership with Sony RED.Â
Shipes talked about his label's new partnership with Sony RED, and how having their backing has turned his creative small label into a label that has more power. Â He feels in turn this will help him expand creatively, and give him and his artists more freedom on projects. Â The Cinematic label head also talked about creating the Smoker's Club Tour, and how being a small label is what enabled him to do it. Â Feeling that under the confines of a large label he wouldn't have been able to be as flexible with the artists he put on the tour. Â
Joey Bada$$ is a talent in any age bracket, and Jonny Shipes talks about "discovering" him when he saw a clip on the internet and realized immediately that the young rapper had talent. Â
Check out excerpts from the interview below. Â
Vibe:Â With that said though, how does your new partnership with Sony RED work?
Jonny Shipes:Â The partnership between Cinematic & RED means CInematic is about to be one of the most legendary and innovative labels to ever do this shit. It is exactly what I have been waiting for my entire life. I've had to be at majors for so long and was always told "no" by them as to what I could and couldn't sign, what the right single is or isn't, and just having to be around all those wack people all my life. Not only does this [new deal] symbolize the last time I will ever have to deal with people like that, again it more importantly has made me my own boss. I now can sign what I want, work it the way I want to work it and hopefully do some more cool shit with great artists. I am gonna be signing a lot of stuff I personally like, which hopefully will translate into sales. If it doesn't, I definitely will have a good time working on the projects.
Itâs funny, because right now independent labels kind of have that advantage because of the associated âcool factor.â Do you guys feel like, as an independent label, you have that advantage?
I think artists are getting smarter due to the fact they know they can stay independent and keep creative freedoms in the long run as opposed to getting caught up in these fucked up major labels, unless you get yourself a good deal. Me, personally, and all my artists will tell you, itâs like a big family at Cinematic. I make sure all my artists are in the best deals they can possibly be in. Any artist that works with me will tell you that theyâre beyond happy. In general, at Cinematic we put on our own shit.
founded the Smokers Club Tour with my business parter Steve-O. Itâs in itâs
third year. The first year was Curre$y, Big K.R.I.T. and Smoke DZA, the second
year was Curre$y, Method Man, Big K.R.I.T. and Smoke DZA, and this year itâs
Juicy J, Smoke DZA, Joey Bada$$ and Fat Trel. I started this big ass tour
completely independent & out of pocket. To make a long story short, itâs
huge at this point. The advantage to the way I operate as opposed to a major
label is theyâre stuck in this whole way where you canât even move around the
way you need to as an artist. For example, me and Fat Trel just got into
business with each other. Instead of him sitting in a major label and him
signing a deal, we went on tour, he was in front of 35 markets, and we just
moved differently. We have a true independent spirit where hip-hop started.
Weâre embracing our fans, having fun, getting fucked up, and making moves at
the same time. Thatâs what itâs about. It not, âOh, I got the biggestâ or âOh,
I got the most money.â People got to remember where hip-hop started. It was
fun, and thatâs what weâre trying to bring back to the game. Itâs not a
letâs talk about Joey Bada$$. This kid is 17-years old, yet heâs flowing like
somebody whoâs been in the game for well over a decade. What was it like when
you first heard him and what made you say, âI got to sign this kid right now.â
Jonny Shipes:Â Yo, the kid is phenomenal. Heâs amazing. Thatâs self-explana
It was the same situation like K.R.I.T. We didnât do any paperwork at first, we got comfortable with each other, and heâs like my little brother now. We worked out a deal, as he was going and doing his deal. The joke with me is that Iâm the least talented. Thatâs my nickname because I am the least talented out of all my homies. Iâm not the producer, I just know good music when I hear it. He had this flow, and it was just about giving it to the public.