Labels make rap go ‘round—or do they?
Dropping off his remix to Bas and J. Cole’s “Tribe,” Miami rapper Sylvan LaCue briefly name-drops Roc Nation and a potential deal between the label and himself. In an accompanying interview with Billboard, LaCue expanded upon the deal and its eventually falling out.
“I had a very specific vision and we got to a point where I was compromising my vision,” he said. “I was going to take a certain deal because I didn’t get a chance to express my true vision of what I wanted to do. Out of love for Roc and out of love for Hov, I was willing to compromise what I really wanted to do in order to still have that association and say this is the story. Make it something that it is, but it truly isn’t, just for the sake of affiliation and a dream come true. Where I’m from, you think about rap and you think you might sign to Jay-Z. That’s the best case scenario.
“Long story short, some things happened that I won’t speak too much further on just out of respect for them and respect for the culture and respect for Hov. But some not so pleasant things happened and I had to walk away from the situation. It was unfortunate, how things transpired. At the end of the day, I was really grateful for just being able to walk into the office and meet some of the people that I’ve met and be able to be around that energy and experience that time I was able to experience. It meant a lot to me because I’m a kid from Miami who doesn’t really get that opportunity. It’s very surreal to be able to be in those offices and have those conversations. I have to really stick to my guns and I’ve created a lot for myself and I can’t be bought at this point.”
Later on, responding to a question about a Logic name-drop and his leaving Visionary Music Group, LaCue added: “That’s not saying that not signing a record deal is the answer. There’s people who are independent who are wildly successful who aren’t happy. This shit is deeper, man, it’s way deeper. What I’m trying to do and my message, [I'm] trying to invite people to themselves. We’re all worth something beyond money. We all have this intangible worth. My music is just the platform to get that shit through.”
The TL;DR here is that signing a deal is not always what it’s cracked up to be. A record deal does not mean hits, it does not mean riches, and it does not guarantee anything. A record deal only works when the conditions are right and you’re getting crazy splits like SZA.
Sylvan LaCue was right to walk away if he felt his vision was being put second to getting a deal done. Money can buy a lot of things, but it cannot vision and it certainly cannot spur creativity. A record deal is most often just one method of access, but as we’ve seen time and time again, there is more than one way to break in music.
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