Kanye's been influential in more ways than I can count, including encouraging people to drop out of college. His message was that school was nothing but an expense that prevented you from earning real money and chasing real dreams, but as a college dropout turned college re-enroller turned graduate myself, my experience has been the opposite. That degree was the piece of paper that opened the door to making some paper, and today I found a perhaps unlikely ally in my "Hey, maybe dropping out of school isn't a good idea" campaign - YG.
Billboard: What's a lesson that you wish your younger self knew?
YG: Graduating from school because I know if I was more educated, my business in the music industry would probably be better. Where I'm at right now, though, I'm in a good space, my businesses is right and getting better. I came into the game with fucked up deals and that was just my situation at the time. It was fucked up how it happened, me not knowing nothing about the music business. All I know is labels trying to sign me. I don't think my education got nothing to do with that, but my business and where it's at today, I probably would've been here a little faster.
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For the record, while the interview doesn't specify exactly what "fucked up deals" he's referring to, the only deals I'm aware YG has signed are with Jeezy's CTE and Def Jam (He also founded a label, Pu$haz Ink, along with DJ Mustard and Ty Dolla $ign).
I don't want to stir up drama where there isn't any and assume he's talking about CTE and/or Def Jam, but regardless, he'd be far from the first artist to get locked into a less-than-ideal deal early in their career. At the time you're just excited that a label's even noticed you, and things like mechanical royalties and publishing seem too complicated to bother with, let alone fight for a percentage point or two. But then ten years later you look back and realize that percentage point or two could have added up to a million dollars (or two).
School's not necessarily going to teach you how to read a record contract, but it can teach you how to think critically and make connections with people outside your normal environment who can help you see beyond your horizons, all of which will help you read a record contract. High school, college or graduate school, formal school or not, the point is that education is key. Drop out if you want, or never go, but if you want a successful career, or at least save yourself a lot of struggle, you're going to need to start studying.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.
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