Making the perfect song and curating the greatest sound will take an artist years to master. Unfortunately, most music labels don’t have the time or money apparently to waste on the growth of an artist. Nowadays, they’re more worried about stream numbers and instant hits. Thankfully, film producer Lena Waithe,has huge plans to put a stop to all the statics. In fact, the LGTBQ activist has created her own record label Hillman Grad Records in a joint venture with Def Jam.
Many will argue that much of today’s music lacks substance. Even some of the biggest hits on the radio don’t offer great storytelling aspects. The Chi filmmaker Lena Waithe plans to reintroduce music aficionados to real songs that pack tons of heart, soul and most of all, offer great storytelling.
Back in March, Lena Waithe first announced plans to branch out into the music scene. As a child, Waithe grew up on 90s music from the likes of iconic musicians like Prince, Brandy and Erykah Badu. Not to mention, she danced in front of her family tv to the music videos that aired on VH1. Now, critics and fans alike have a high regard for her musical choices in her tv shows, Master of None, The Chi and Them. With such close ties to the music scene, it’s basically a no-brainer for Waithe to own a music label.
In speaking with Rolling Stone magazine, Waithe made it known that she’s now the proud owner of the new record label Hillman Grad Records. Fans of Waithe will immediately notice that the music label shares a similar name as her production company, Hillman Grad.
Under her new music label, Waithe wants to breed a whole new crop of artists whose songs carry substance.
“It’s about finding really interesting artists who have a real drive and sense of wanting to figure out who they are over time. We really want artists that can grow,” Waithe told RollingStone magazine.
Additionally, the executive producer seeks to reintroduce the practice of storytelling in music. Waithe understands there will be some trial and error in her label’s first fleeting years but feels confident that the project will pull through.
Much of Lena Waithe’s confidence in her record label stems from her desire to sign artists like H.E.R, Miguel and Lil Nas X. Waithe believes wholeheartedly that these artists have successfully cultivated their personal stories in their music. Additionally, they’ve learned the mechanics and workings of great storytelling but remain studious to the craft.
“I really miss watching an artist and their albums shift and change with each one. But I want to bring back some of that old vibe and nostalgia and rollout of actual singles,” Waithe told Rolling Stone.
In helping artists grow in their music career, Waithe plans to act as a ‘creative director’ throughout the musical process. The Them executive producer will act as a creative coach, but won’t infringe on the artist’s own process. In further detail, the Emmy-award winning star will work closely with artists to help build up their film and artistic skills, all while learning to navigate the record industry. Waithe’s record label comes off as very inclusive.
Speaking of inclusivity, Waithe also plans to tackle the racial and gender inequalities that plague the film and music industries. According to Waithe, Hillman Grad Records will help put more black people in a position of power during record dealings. Having put plenty of thought into the record label, Lena Waithe clearly wants to see changes made to music scene.
All in all, Waithe’s Hillman Grad Records sounds like a dream come true for any undiscovered artist. It seeks an artist with a story to tell and offers a strong sense of inclusivity and creative freedom.
The record label will also offer mental health resources. Waithe understands that artists can sometimes go through a rough patch in their careers. The LGBTQ activist wants artists to feel like they have a safe space to express their struggles. Not to mention, receive loads of encouragement from their peers in the industry.
Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Records comes off as an ambitious project that offers everything an artist could ever need. Of course, everything that Lena Waithe touches practically turns to gold. There’s no telling what else the show creator has in store for her newest record label.