With Facebook adding a ‘listen’ button among their comment options, social media and music are merging yet again. Online file sharing has become an increasingly popular way for consumers to get their hands on the latest material from their favorite artists. Musicians like Drake, Frank Ocean and Meek Mill built their fan base by giving away music for free, which lead them to be signed to major labels. The ability to promote yourself digitally has reduced the power of record executives and transferred it to the emcee.
Mr. Bangladesh is a highly respected music producer and independent label owner who has worked with the likes of Ludacris, Lil Wayne, and Rihanna. TheGrio had the opportunity to speak with Bangladesh to talk about artist branding, and the changing landscape of the music scene.
You’re originally from Iowa, but you moved to Atlanta to get your career started in 98. Do you believe artists still have to relocate to be successful?
No, not necessarily with today’s technology. With the way the Internet works, all people really have to do is just find you. Where I’m from in Des Moines, there really wasn’t an outlet to make income off your creativity. So I went to where the opportunity was in Atlanta.
Being from Iowa, who were some of your influences growing up?
I heard a lot of rock and pop growing up. There wasn’t a lot of hip-hop and R&B on the radio, so I had to go and find it. All of hip hop influenced me, but who influenced me to want to become a producer was Timbaland, Jodeci and Teddy Riley.
Timbaland was a producer first, artist second; did it ever cross your mind to do the same?
Honestly I never had the desire to be an artist. Or I would’ve been and not be a producer. Being a producer is my passion; however the way I do business is like an artist because you have to be seen in the media. It’s all done for branding purposes.
As the head of your own label, do you believe there’s not enough emphasis of ownership in music?
I think people get more hip and become more hands on with their career as they got older. When hip-hop first started, people just had a love for the music and some got destroyed when it came to the business aspect. But now rappers and producers are creating their own brands. Like T.I., 2 Chainz, or Jeezy, they’re all creating partnerships with the major labels.
Before his Def Jam signing, 2 Chainz went by Tity Boi. Do you think his name change helped him breakthrough to the mainstream?
I don’t know. The massive majority may think like that but sometimes its about timing. It could be your ad-libs, your demeanor, your swag, to help you break through. There are more ingredients than just a name change. He always had talent.
Song ad-libs are clever ways to brand yourself as an artist or producer. Have you admired anyone’s ad-libs?
No, because everything is starting to sound so monotonous. Sometimes the ad-lib is not needed for the track.
Has hip-hop become too safe?
Being in the industry now so long, it is. Whatever the hot sound is right now, people will do it. Through disco and every following genre after you got to see the shift in the sound. No one has taken the time to produce what the next sound will be because now everyone is using their computers to make the same beat over and over again.
Follow Kyle Harvey on Twitter at @HarveyWins