By K.B. Tindal
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Rightfully so, Harlem and Brooklyn get a lot of credit for birthing hustlers, but the home borough of Queens cannot be overlooked. Many of hip hop’s biggest moguls, including Russell Simmons and Sha Money XL hail from Queens. The most-recent hip hop success story on a major scale was initially overseen by Sha Money XL.
Many were motivated by 50 Cent and what he did with G-Unit. A great deal of his early moves were made alongside Sha Money XL, before he split ways to begin working with Def Jam. Upon arriving at Def Jam, Sha Money XL signed Big K.R.I.T. and 2 Chainz to successful deals.
Currently, Sha Money XL works for Epic Records as the Senior Vice President of Urban Music. In this position, Sha Money XL signed TeeFlii and breakout internet star, Bobby Shmurda. Earlier this week, Sha Money XL took time out of his schedule to speak to Hip Hop Vibe about this journey.
Read the entire interview below:
Being that we hail from the same borough, can you tell me your fondest memory of Hip Hop growing up in Queens, NY? Being able to go to school and walk down Hollis Ave. and see Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay blasting their music. That showed me what life could be like for me. Seeing Stretch bring MTV to my hood right by my cousin, Whoo Kid’s house and showing me there was a rapper in my neighborhood. Seeing Tupac with Stretch and then.
When you first started working in the music industry, did you see yourself creating such a major global brand and later bringing new life to two others? Definitely. Because, I was a real student of the culture and the whole lifestyle. I admired Russell Simmons, Andre Harrell, Lyor Cohen. All of those guys who built empires, I admired it.
What were some of the hardest learning points that you acquired while managing the day to day lives of artists like G-Unit in the beginning considering the rise to fame happened incredibly fast? The hardest part, was when I had 50 Cent before G-Unit and I said he was going to make a comeback. People thought I was crazy, because there was so much stacked against him. But, trying to convince them then that he would be what he is now. Back then, saying his name was taboo.
When you became SVP of A&R at Island Def Jam, were 2 Chainz and Big K.R.I.T. artists that were already on your radar prior to signing them or did that happen after you got the position? I signed 2 Chainz two years into my term there. But, I met with Big K.R.I.T.’s people right before I joined Def Jam and he became the first artist I signed. I heard K.R.I.T.’s music in March of 2010 and he got signed in May of 2010.
What do you look for in an artist before helping them go to the next level? I look for a lot of things. There voice is important to me, their subject matter, how they use their voice, and who they are as a person. If I get that feeling, I go hard with them and the feeling hasn’t let me down yet.
When you started The One Stop Shop Producer Conference (OSS) were you surprised by the initial successful turnout and how can artists and DJ’s reach out and become a part of that annual conference? Yeah, I was very surprised. Initially, the reason I did it was because I reached a lot of goals in my career, so I gave back to hip hop. I used to go to conferences when I was coming up to get myself known, I went to rapper conferences. But, there was nobody doing it for producers, so that’s where I came in with this venture. I had done Rap Olympics, Peter Thomas’ How Can I Be Down. This one is producers and this led to people getting jobs, getting known, like S1, and others. It was amazing, this was much more than networking.
Recently another Queens legend, N.O.R.E., said he wanted to start a non-profit program where all major artists chip in funds for other artists who have fallen on hard times. Sort of like insurance and retirement for rappers. Would that be something you would participate in? I would have to know more about it to get in on it. I donate to my family, not rappers who don’t save their money.
What has it been like to sign and work with such talented new artists at Epic Records? The reason I joined Epic was because I wanted a challenge. I wanted to prove that I could work with a company with no hip hop history, because sometimes talent gets overshadowed by the artists. But, as a producer and a businessman, I know that my knowhow helped build a lot of stars.
What led to you making the decision to sign Bobby Shmurda? I met him, I saw his video online, I checked it out, saw he was a real one, met his family, and crew. I saw he had more than one song, so I signed him. He’s a smart kid from Brooklyn who deserves everything he’s getting.
Can you talk about what it’s been like helping TeeFlii expand from being a local star to a mainstream success? Oh man. It’s been an amazing experience for me, because I’ve never signed an R&B artist in my entire career. Doing this is amazing, that kid is one of the realest people I’ve dealt with in a while. He’s a real street nigga, real music, nigga, and a real man of God, it’s a blessing to be dealing with him.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in music. Who do you want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet? I want to work with Stephen Marley, Nas, Jay-Z, and that’s it.
Up until this point in your career what been your most memorable moment in music? 50 Cent’s first album coming out the same week of my birthday. I produced with Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and it sold 800,000 copies in two weeks in a row.
How can people reach out to you via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter? Instagram @ShaMoneyMotivation, Twitter @ShaMoneyXL.
Follow K.B. Tindal on Twitter @KBTindal.