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The 25 Best A&Rs in Hip-Hop History

22. Matteo "Matty C" Capoluongo & Schott "Free" Jacobs

Title(s): Founder of The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column, A&R at Loud Records
Artists They Worked With: Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, dead prez

Matteo “Matty C” Capoluongo was an A&R man long before he knew it.

Matty and I were once colleagues at The Source in the early 1990s, and I have a memory of him that illustrates the point. We were crossing Broadway on our way back from attending the DMC DJ Battle for World Supremacy, discussing the incredible performance of Harlem’s DJ Steve D.

“He could be a really great record producer,” Matty said.

I asked Matty what made him think so; it certainly hadn’t occurred to me. Matty responded that the sections of the records he picked, the creative things he did with them, was an easily transferrable skill from two turntables to a sampler and sequencer.

After I moved on to do A&R for Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings, Matty started a new section called in the magazine called “Unsigned Hype,” where he regularly picked gold from the dirtpile of demos that flooded The Source since its inception. Among the artists he plucked from obscurity and placed on the radar of eager A&Rs across the country? Mobb Deep. Common Sense, now known as simply Common. DMX. DJ Shadow. The Notorious B.I.G., which led directly to his signing by Sean “Puffy” Combs.

Matty also deserves credit for circulating an independent single by a Staten Island group called the Wu Tang Clan, and acted as an early advisor to The RZA before he eventually signed the group’s deal with Steve Rifkind’s Loud Records.

Matty’s ears were too good to languish at the increasingly chaotic magazine, and eventually he was offered a job by Rifkind, at the behest of Matty’s friend Schott “Free” Jacobs. As a team, Matt “Life” and Schott “Free” would sign and refine Mobb Deep and Big Pun, and help to shape Raekwon’s solo album.

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