The music game is an ever-changing industry and longtime executive Kevin Liles knows that all too well. A legend in the game, Liles is now helping navigate 300 Entertainment through the competition with the likes of Migos, Young Thug, and more as the banner artists of the label.
With his knowledge of the industry and a forward thinking attitude, Liles is constantly looking for the next big thing in any realm, which has brought him to the Verizon Freestyle50 challenge. Liles, along with super-producer London On Da Track (Young Thug, Drake, Gucci Mane), is looking for the next big rapper. We were able to sit down with Liles and London to talk about the project, the music industry in general, and more. The challenge was inspired by Verizon's 7G for $50 prepaid offer exclusively at Walmart.
Talk About the Freestyle50 Challenge and How This Came About
Kevin: I don’t think we celebrate each other enough, I don’t think we celebrate the writer who wrote an article that moved culture or the designer who changed the way people wear jeans or an artist that says "I am a prince and I can wear what the hell I want to wear." And I am not talking about the symbol, God rest his soul, I am talking about Young Thug. Who said "Imma do me." We don’t celebrate that.
We wait until they’re not who they are or they passed to celebrate. So London and I were chopping up so what’s the best way we can say, "Yo we should celebrate people how they freestyle success, how they free style through life," and it’s not just about lyrics now. It’s about who you are, what you are, what you’re wearing. And that to me, as a young kid, a 24-year-old. Hey, let’s celebrate people freestyling they’re way through life and so I started to think around it. What’s it mean? So let’s find somebody that supports culture and everything. So I called my people and was like, "guys let’s get together and celebrate people, let’s do freestyle 50 and let’s do a challenge and celebrate a culture right now."
Is that the mindset you're taking into 2017?
K: That’s our mindset, you know what I mean. Everybody got a freestyle, I don’t want somebody working for me if the ain’t freestyling. Don’t tell me what you used to do, what do you do? Don’t tell me who you used to work for, don’t tell me what this person used to produce for. Motherfucker, what are you going to do. What’s going to be different? This guy right here [points to London], his records don’t sound the same.
London: Definitely going to see originality out of me, you're not going to see or hear something that sounds like somebody
Last time we talked, you mentioned wanting to work on more pop records? That still the case?
London: Of course man, I always want to expand myself , be up on a big level , you know what I am saying. I strive for the best. I don’t go backwards, if I do rap already. I do that, cool. I don’t stay in the same box. I am not small minded, I am business minded. You know what I am saying, so I strive for what’s better.
Kevin: And I think he has an opportunity right now to freestyle his way. I don’t want him limited, I don’t want him in a box. The only box I want him in is the box he creates, you know what I mean. I want him to be able to produce for all kinds of people, I want to take him to Nigeria. I want to take him to Japan. I want to travel the world and see other music sounds like and allow him to be a product of his experiences and that to me… I don’t think it is about chasing a genre of music, I think it is about chasing that experiences that can help you bring different sounds to our culture and I think that is what he’s going to do.
How do you look at the movement of these younger kids not knowing about Biggie or Tupac?
Kevin: You gotta understand it’s like me not respecting Coldrush, it’s like me not respecting Russell. That’s my partner, it’s like me not respecting Sugarhill. I don’t believe in that, it’s dumb shit to me. I believe you got to know who made the foundation and you got to pay respect to Grandmaster Flash. That’s just me, and what’s gonna happen is these kids are going to grow older and start paying respect to those people. Like respect everyone through history, you know I do respect everybody…It’s like somebody not paying respect to Michael Jordan.