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. 

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.  He feels in turn this will help him expand creatively, and give him and his artists more freedom on projects.  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.  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.  

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.  

Check out excerpts from the interview below.  

Vibe: With that said though, how does your new partnership with Sony RED work?

Jonny Shipes: 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.

It’s funny, because right now independent labels kind of have that advantage because of the associated “cool factor.” 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, it’s 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 they’re beyond happy. In general, at Cinematic we put on our own shit.

I founded the Smokers Club Tour with my business parter Steve-O. It’s in it’s 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 it’s 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, it’s huge at this point. The advantage to the way I operate as opposed to a major label is they’re stuck in this whole way where you can’t 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. We’re embracing our fans, having fun, getting fucked up, and making moves at the same time. That’s what it’s about. It not, “Oh, I got the biggest” or “Oh, I got the most money.” People got to remember where hip-hop started. It was fun, and that’s what we’re trying to bring back to the game. It’s not a “cool-or-not-cool” sort of thing. Not to sound like that, but we know we’re cool. We’re gonna continue to. It’s a matter of connecting the dots.

Vibe: Now let’s talk about Joey Bada$$. This kid is 17-years old, yet he’s flowing like somebody who’s been in the game for well over a decade. What was it like when you first heard him and what made you say, “I got to sign this kid right now.”

Jonny Shipes: Yo, the kid is phenomenal. He’s amazing. That’s self-explanatory. He’s just dead nice. Funny enough, I don’t really go on the blogs or Worldstar. My homies will tell you, it’s crazy how I’m able to sign artists because I don’t do any of the blogging and that shit. I just happened to be on Worldstar one day, and it was like, “15 Year Old MC Spits Crazy Bars.” This was around the time everybody from New York recently coming out couldn’t spit or had this stupid fuckery that didn’t sound like it was from New York [Laughs], so I was like, “Let me see this shit.” I clicked on it, and he was dead nice and 15! More so than anything though, it was his swag. If you look at the video, you’ll see what I’m talking about. He had the ‘It factor’ from jump. I reached out, and we started working and talking. He got to know what type of person I was. I don’t do paperwork with anyone I work with at first because I want people to get comfortable with me and vice versa. You may not be able to work with everybody.

It was the same situation like K.R.I.T. We didn’t do any paperwork at first, we got comfortable with each other, and he’s like my little brother now. We worked out a deal, as he was going and doing his deal. The joke with me is that I’m the least talented. That’s my nickname because I am the least talented out of all my homies. I’m 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.