Interview with HitQuarters & Shady Records artist BOBBY CREEKWATER - May 15, 2006
HitQuarters Artist Bobby Creekwater Signs A Record Deal With Shady Records!In 2004, rap artist Bobby Creekwater used HitQuarters as a resource for approaching the music industry with his songs. 1.5 years later he has landed a record deal with one of the world’s most wanted record labels – Shady Records. His debut album, “A Brilliant Mistake”, is up for release in September 2006.
Read the exclusive interview with Bobby Creekwater on how his songs found their way into Shady Records offices, how the signing process came about, what his and Shady Records’ approach to bidding wars is and what knowledge and experiences Bobby has to share with other unsigned artists.
Also, read comments by Riggs Morales, A&R at Shady Records, No.1 on the 2003 World Top 100 A&R Chart and member of the HitQuarters A&R Panel (to read the HitQuarters interview with Riggs, click here).
How did you start MCing?
I was MC-ing before high school. I met Charlie Jangles on Pebblebrook High in the 9th grade. He asked me to form a group by the name of Jatis. We performed at local talent shows. We had a lot of chemistry, musically. We were starting our performing career professionally in the 11th grade.
How did you hook up with producer Sol Messiah?
We were at the right place at the right time. We did so many talent shows and showcases that the opportunities came back from the relationships that we made.
Our first album, ‘Coup D’Villains’, was never actually released. After we left our live situation we ended up going over to Sony/Columbia. We ended up being there for a year and a half before we were released from that deal.
Jatis were offered a deal with Steve Rifkind’s Loud Records. How come?
At the time we had a relationship with a group by the name of Dead Prez. When they were performing in Atlanta we would go to their show. They had an A&R by the name of Sean Cane. He came down with them and heard some of our music. Eventually he took it back to Steve Rifkind. And Steve decided that he wanted to sign us.
How did two Jatis songs get on the NBA Baller video game on Midway Sports?
I got those through Jason McAfee. It was a friend of mine who I was dealing with at the time. He called me and asked me to submit songs because he was doing some work for Midway Games. They liked the songs and we ended up getting “Skills Like This” and “Ball” on the video game.
When did you first take on a manager?
At the time of our first deal we took on Kevin Lee. He’s managing Jay-Z now, but he was our first manager.
You’re now doing your solo project.
The name is “A Brilliant Mistake” by Bobby Creekwater on Shady Records. I just did the deal with Shady. They showed me a lot of love. We’re hopefully going to drop the album around September of this year.
Going solo was just something that happened. After we lost our situation we fell back and looked at the game and the state that it was in. We looked at the progress that we had made. We decided to take a break from Jatis and explore other options. Me and Charlie never broke up. Bobby Creek was me exploring myself. I was starting producing, I found a sound, and I just ran with it.
Shady found out what I was doing and they reached out to me. They liked it, believed in it, and we went with it. It was the best thing for us to do as far as getting us in the door.
How did your music find its way into the offices?
The music found its way into Shady offices through Sean Cane. He had an artist named Aasim, signed to Bad Boy, and me and Aasim did a lot of songs together. He was playing one of the songs called “Anyway” that Aasim did, and I happened to be on that particular song. Riggs Morales heard the song and was inquiring like: “Who is this kid Bobby Creek?”, and the rest is history.
What happened to your songs afterwards?
As far as the Bobby Creek songs, I had already been recording before Shady came and find me. I already had a collection of songs. Even outside of the deal we made a whole new collection of songs, because we’re always recording.
What was the process from your first contact with Shady up until the deal was signed?
It was a pretty easy process. Everybody knew they wanted to do the deal. I was presented as Bobby Creekwater. I went to New York City twice. I did the first meeting with Riggs Morales to play him some music. I had 20 songs.
I had a little album, like a demo package in the form of an album. The second meeting was with Paul Rosenberg. He heard the music. He believed in the project. We made it happen pretty quickly. It wasn’t a lot of going back and forth or whatever. People knew what they wanted.
What was discussed in those meetings?
They wanted to get a feel for Bobby Creekwater. Get a feel for my direction, for what I had going on, where I saw myself at in this music industry thing. They knew they liked the music but they wanted to get a feel for the person.
Were there any live shows that Shady went to?
At the time I was recording. There weren’t a lot of shows then.
What was the competition from other labels?
Labels started to get aware of it. It wasn’t to the point where it could cause a problem for Shady though. I got a lot of calls. They insinuated that they wanted to offer me something but they never made moves on it. When Shady came into the picture it just felt right.
When Shady showed interest, did it make the contact with other labels more intense?
Not at all. We sat down with Paul and he let us know his concern as far as the bidding war was concerned. A lot of artists in the past had tried to do that. They get an offer from one label and they run to another. Letting the label know that they’re trying to start a bidding war.
I felt comfortable with that situation as far as Shady was concerned. I had always told my manager that that would be one of the labels I could see myself at. For me to go start a bidding war wouldn’t have been in my best interest. Especially when they were giving me what I needed from the jump.
How do you rehearse for the big release?
By staying busy. Doing a lot of interviews. Staying in the studio. Rehearsing for the show. There’s much to be done until the big day. I’m always working in some capacity to better myself in some area.
Did it make a difference when you switched manager?
It made a big difference. One of the things I found out from my previous deal is that you’re only as good as your team. I made a conscious effort this time around to surround myself with good people. Not just good business people, but good people in general with moral values. I really wanted to have that foundation around myself. A manager is very important. When I teamed up with Kevin Mitchell everything just clicked. We had that chemistry, and he made my life much easier.
How is your live show set up?
We just hip hop. It’s just me and a hideman, a DJ and two microphones. Back to the basics.
What about your video?
We’re talking of shooting the video during the spring. I don’t want to speak on it too early.
What did you learn from being an unsigned artist?
I learned so much from people that I knew from the industry. I could probably write you a 100 page book and send it to you as far as what I learned just being around in the music industry. There’s so much information and so much to be learned. You just try to find out what is best for you.
Which mistakes are most common?
The most common mistake that a young and aspiring artist can make is that they make the assumption that the music industry is all glamour and glitts. They’re coming to it with the idea that it’s the money and the cars and the girls. They’re not realizing that it’s much more hard work and 95.5% business.
To avoid that, you want to come in business minded or you want to develop a business sense. A keen business mind would be the best thing you could have and the best advice I can give.
What advice would you give unsigned artists on how to build a long-term career?
Just stay creative. You get a lot of people with the cookie-cutter mentality. They want to follow whatever the next MC is doing. They want to play it safe or stay in the comfort zone.
I aspire to be the best. I aspire to be great. I aspire to be creative. Let’s all create something new. Try to be new and do new things, and let’s not be scared for that matter to be yourself. I see longevity in that.
What do you expect from being released on such a successful label?
This is Shady, Interscope, Aftermath, G-Unit. It’s a very successful team. I don’t expect any less than success being with the team. As far as what I’m bringing to the table I think it’s going to be good with big things.
Do you already have your own label?
B.G.O.V. (Black Government) is my company. I got a lot of artists that I want to showcase eventually. We’re working on that right now. It’s soon to come.
What’s your vision for B.G.O.V.?
Keep creating good music. Explore all fashions of music. Bring good music from all corners of the earth. This label is my opportunity to give people a voice when they’ve never had a voice. At one point in time I didn’t have a voice and somebody gave me a chance. With this company I want to be able to do that. There are a lot of talented people out there that get overlooked for political reasons. I want to bring that to the light.
Are you still politically active?
Most definitely. On behalf of the youth I feel it’s important to be. We have to help to make things better for the youth so that the youth are able to come behind and make things better. It’s very important to remain politically active and to know what’s going on in your surroundings.
What’s the future for hip hop?
That’s left up to the youth. All I can do is my part as far as inspiring the youth to be creative and to be individual so that hip hop may grow. For the most part the future of hip hop is up to the youth. That’s what it’s all about; the youth.
How do you work in the studio?
I’ve been told that I have a great work ethic. It never took me long to do anything as far as music. Musically, recording or verse, I work pretty fast. I get a lot done because of it. I’ve been doing it for so long.
What do you want to offer with your music?
I’m telling my story like where I come from, what I’ve seen, what drives me, what inspires me. I also want to inspire somebody else in that same sense, like how I was inspired. I want to help somebody else to gravitate towards music so it can keep them off the street. I hope to give back with my music what music gave to me.
What do you want to change in the industry?
The business aspect. It takes so much out of you creatively when you’ve got to deal with so much from the business end. Make it a little bit more easier. There’s so many underlining and hidden meanings. If you don’t have a team to handle that it can be very frustrating.
Do you have the feeling that you know all that is important in the launch of your record?
Yes, most definitely. There’s always something to learn, but for the most part I have a team surrounding me that if I don’t know something they make sure they give the information to me that I need. Me putting my team in place is very important to me because I’m very comfortable and able to do what I do.
Your debut album is called “A Brilliant Mistake”. What does the title stand for?
Me and my mother had a conversation about conception in different levels of society. Some people are planning to have babies and some are having babies out of wedlock and circumstance. I was asking her if I was a planned conception or just a thing of circumstance.
She replied that I wasn’t planned but she doesn’t see me as a mistake. I replied that if I wasn’t planned that I was a mistake. She said that God doesn’t make mistakes, and even if he did it would be a brilliant mistake. From that conversation came my album title.
It will be marketed in Atlanta first to get a local home buzz and then build it out from there. What are your expectations?
I have a great expectation. It’s finally a chance for me to get to reach out to my people, touch my people and tell my story. I’m very excited.
It’s a hands-on approach. Shady got it all locked as far as promo products and access to their local street teams. They do it big. I’m not concerned about them on that end. I know they’re going to do what they’re supposed to do.
What will you be doing in 5 to 10 years?
Of course I want to still be doing music, but I also want to be giving other people the opportunity to do music through my company. I would like to be traveling and taking my music to the world. And I will explore any other avenue I can.
How do you stay focused on being yourself?
My mama. Every time I get outside of myself, all I got to do is take it for both to my mother’s house. She’s the reason for the season. She inspires me and keeps me grounded. She taught me humbleness, and I told you so.
To view the early Jatis and Bobby Creekwater’s self-made HitQuarters artist page from 2004, made before his deal with Shady Records, click here.
To visit Bobby Creekwater’s web site, click here.
Riggs Morales, A&R at Shady Records, comments: “The tracks that showcased Bobby’s potential were "Like This", "Hardheaded" and "Bobby Creek" (all available to hear on his mix tape "Anthem To The Streets").
Riggs also says that, in their first meeting, he felt it necessary to make sure that the potential he heard on the first 16 bars (Aasim’s “Anyway”) from Bobby was something that expanded into songs, and that he wanted to see what kind of artist he was in terms of his outlook on music, life and his future as an artist.
Interviewed by Kimbel Bouwman
Next week: Interview with Eddie Weathers, A&R at So So Def for J-Kwon and Dem Franchize Boyz
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