The record business is just that…a business. It’s not as glamorous as the media would have you believe. Many young artists find themselves on the wrong end of bad contracts, beefing and feuding with peers, and on the road for months at a time. Our cast offers us insight about the reality of the music industry and how the new trend is to find ways around the old conventions. As part of Complex’s Get Money initiative, the eight-part series Rules to This Sh*t covers the trials and tribulations of embarking on a rap career, with words of wisdom from Common, N.O.R.E., Too Short, the late Nipsey Hussle, and more.
In the first episode of Rules to This Sh*t, some of the most important voices in hip-hop discuss a number of the biggest issues with the record industry. Included in the episode—titled “Cash Rules”—is the likes of Bad Boy producer LV, who admitted he “screamed” at Diddy over his record contract once, and Too Short, who explained how he received only 15 percent of the money earned from his music in the past.
“When I first started, I would have a guestlist of 30 people,” said Common, who shared a cautionary story from early in his career. “I was opening for Redman and Kool G Rap. Some of my friends went into one of their dressing rooms and stole their stuff off their rider, ate their food. I ended up having to pay for it, the promoter was like, ‘We charging you, we know that was your homies.’”
“You know, I definitely signed some bad contracts in my time,” admitted rapper Dreezy. “Bound by a piece of paper… It make you think, like, ‘Wow, does this piece of paper really hold that much power.” Unfortunately for countless artists in the industry, predatory record contracts for young artists are far too common.
“I remember this one time I met these execs… Gave us this whole big pep-talk speech, and then eight months later we met the same guys… and they gave the exact same speech,” shared Cousin Stizz. “That’s when I knew, man, they just spin these kids.”
The episode also includes some never-before-seen footage of the late Nipsey Hussle in the studio, who reflects on meeting with his first A&R.
“It wasn’t easy to get Nipsey Hussle to partner up,” Dallas Martin, Atlantic Records A&R executive, said. “I seen what Dallas was doing, and I seen how he was moving, and he was like, ‘I got a situation let’s do something,’” explained Nipsey. “He really with the music.”
Watch the first episode of Rules to This Sh*t above.