Earlier this week I featured Part 1 of my interview with Bad Boy A&R, Conrad Dimanche.
Below is the second half of the interview, where we discussed artist development, the importance of songwriting and… jerk chicken.
What do you look for when somebody pitches you a demo or somebody is trying to pitch you an artist?
Well some of the normal things that I always ask if the artist isn’t there and somebody’s talking to me about the artist; how old are they, what type of music, what’s the weight, how’s the personality, how long have you been working with them, what do they do for a living…things like that. I kinda check their character.
On top of asking about the music or before I hear the music, I kind of check different things about the person’s character, because no one wants to have a headache artist.
Are you able to hear past bad production or a bad engineer when listening to an artist and hear their individual talent?
I can definitely hear talent past bad mixes and bad production – just hear somebody who’s great with melodies or just a distinctive tone, even if the music is all fucked up. Just the wordplay that they use, be it a rapper or singer. I’ll be able to pick that out – past the nastiness.
Realistically speaking, how often will Bad Boy sign an act?
Well, there’s no science to that really. It’s just really as they come along. If we found 15 incredible artists that we love in one year, we would sign all 15 of them. I mean, if the budget permits really, because it comes down to having the money at the time for that quarter. You might have to wait until the next quarter and have an artist sit tight, if they’re gonna still be available. But there’s really no limit to that. It’s just about how our passion is for that artist
What steps do you take when developing an artist?
Artist development – there’s a lot of time spent in the studio I would say. This is before media training and making sure the look is right and getting a stylist in, but it’s a lot of time spent in the studio, just pinpointing the direction. You might test out and try different things, different songs, before we nail it. Because you could really build an album from one song.
Once you get that one song and figure okay this is it, we build off of that. And all the songs are going to be different, but there’s going to be a sonic continuity throughout the album that you could really find from one song.
How important is live performance when signing or developing an artist?
Live performance? Shit, I mean that’s very important. That sells a lot of records when an artist can put a show on. It can make or break an artist really. You could have a great album and great singles, but if you can’t do your thing on stage man, they’re gonna throw rocks at you. [laughs]
How important is it for an artist to be a songwriter? Is that a deciding factor for you to sign an artist?
Not really, but it’s definitely a bonus. It’s not a deciding factor – it can be, but it’s not a dealbreaker. If you have an incredible artist with an incredible voice but he or she can’t write. More so for a rapper. A rapper, I feel, needs to be able to write their own stuff. Especially because their budgets are usually smaller than an R&B act or a Pop act. So it’s like, where you might have the money allotted to be able to pay writers to come in – it’s not really a luxury most of the time with rappers – unless it’s somebody like Puff, where we’ll use budget.
What do you think about that though? In every genre of music, we acknowledge the fact that singers have songwriters. Yet in hip-hop, it’s taboo to have somebody write your lyrics. Do you think it’s unfair to rappers?
With rappers, I think a part that plays in that is as a rapper, you always want to have your street credibility, so if you have somebody writing about things you were supposed to have experienced, it kinda takes away your credibility. Somebody else gave you those words, you didn’t really experience all that shit.
What do you do to get over a creative slump?
I don’t have creative slumps.
I promise you, I don’t.
So let’s run through a few quick questions. I’ll ask you something and you just say the first thing that comes to mind.
Now or of all time?
Of all time
That’s hard. I have so many of them. I can’t pick just one.
Probably Jerk chicken.
Oh, and lasagna.
That’s gotta be my Blackberry.
Rap or R&B
[laughs] Good music
Lil Wayne or Jay Z
Chris Brown or Omarion
Creativity or Marketability
Old School or New School