Darnell Roy, the artist, producer, television start, and newly minted President of Sugar Hill Records. He is also the owner of his own record label Rich Clique Entertainment. Roy seeks to continue the family legacy through Sugar Hill, but is also pushing to establish his own identity through Rich Clique. Some readers may remember him from his opulent 16th birthday party that was shown on MTV’s Super Sweet 16. Others may recognize him from his current television show “First Family of Hip Hop” on Bravo TV. Roy sat down with The Source to talk about what he has been through and show people what he has been working on since his introduction some years back.
The Source: What title takes priority for you, artist, producer or record executive?
Darnell Roy: I am a hustler, I think there is more than one way to get it. I grew up in the industry around my grandparents, my uncle Joey who recently passed was both a businessman who became an artist. I worked under him and learned the business. We have access to studios so eventually my cousins and I started getting into the music. I met the producer Velous through Zack, French Montana’s brother and we vibed. He actually produced 80% of the album. Velous is lit right now, he worked with Drake, Belly, and Kanye West. I was hurt when my uncle Joey died. My family suffered three deaths back to back. It’s been crazy. My uncle, grandmother Sylvia, and my uncle Rhondo. I went through a rough break up on television. Everything I been through I put it all in the music.
The Source: Can you talk about the transition your life has taken from your introduction to the world on MTV’s Super Sweet 16 some years ago to where it is now?
Darnell Roy: I did music back then and released it, but I never went on the road. I wanted “the life”, but I wanted to be a kid as well. This is not a game, it’s a job and it took me a long time to realize that. However, I stayed around people who were moving in the music industry. I hung out with people like Young Joc, Polow Da Don, and Lil Twist. I was actually in the studio when Jeezy recorded “Love In This Club” for Usher’s album Here I Stand released in 2008. Around that time I moved and went to school in Atlanta at SAE Institute. While I was in school, I got my first placement for a record I produced called “Drip“. It was a Young Joc record that featured Lil Wayne. People gassed me up and I felt I didn’t need school so I dropped out. I regret it now, I do plan on going back one day.
What is your process like when you are in the studio?
Darnell Roy: I am hands on with all the projects I take on. I know God blessed me with a good ear. People who sell records are my friends and they come to me for advice. They trust my advice and know I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I put together records. For my album, I brought together some different vibes to make it. I have a choir for a record and I brought in a saxophone player for another record.
The Source: What is your situation now in terms of music?
Darnell Roy: I own an independent artist on a company I own called Rich Clique Entertainment. I’m open to getting signed as long as the business is right. I’m different this time when it comes to music. I’m involved in television, production, all my samples are cleared. I’m true to this. I’m a grinder, I never stop.
The Source: How will you make an impact given the state of the music industry as it is today?
Darnell Roy: I feel it’s a single driven industry. People will listen to songs with the starts on them. I can adjust to that. I can drop a record on them every other week.
The Source: What are you currently up to?
Darnell Roy: My album In Time should be dropping at the top of 2018. Currently, I’m on the Blunt Truth tour. We are on hiatus now, but it starts back up August 5th in Washington D.C. DJ Young Music organized the tour. The tour is about educating kids on certain topics like sex, drugs, and bullying by using videos. Then we do a performance on stage. In addition to that, we are starting to push my single “Preserve”. We are taking over the clubs going from state to state. So while I’m on tour, I can book some club hosting in the different cities I’m in at nighttime to promote the single. We are also going to do a preserve challenge too. I also have show coming up in Rochester, NY on July 18th.
The Source: How do you feel about the new wave of hip hop artists?
Darnell Roy: I love the new wave artists like Lil Uzi, Kap G, Lil Yachty, PNB Rock. I love it all and you have to respect it. I salute them and anyone else who made the XXL cover.
The Source: What do you say to critics of the new generation of rap and those who criticize the domination of the trap sound?
Darnell Roy: I see a lot of these kids are in a trap. They are in their hoods in their trap houses playing trap music all day and that’s what they are replicating. So it makes sense why the sound dominates.
The Source: What about the criticism of those who say the music industry is dominated by the South?
Darnell Roy: It was down south and it came back to the east coast and its going keep coming. I can’t wait to get my foot in the door for real. My guys and I are nice with it. Not being cocky just confident we stand behind our product. I speak for all of us.
The Source: Your family’s business has a unique viewpoint in terms of how the music industry is currently operating. Where do you stand in the whole streaming vs artists debate?
Darnell Roy: Streaming helps the situation. For a consumer, you get more for your money. It messed up the game in terms of the payments to producers and artists, but now you got singles. I see it from both sides. If streaming is where it’s at, that’s where we are going to put the music. People are able to test out the music. I give you a snack and you come have lunch. Some of my biggest markets in the U.S. are in New York, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta. Internationally, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The Source: Any last words you want to say to the readers of The Source?
Darnell Roy: I do this for Sylvia Robinson, Joey Robinson, and I’m going to make them proud in heaven. They see these clowns hating on me, they don’t want to see me spread my wings and do my thing. This is God’s play!