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Your initial introduction into the music business began at what level of capacity?

I was interning for a local label called Trax records, which was a big dance music label out of Chicago.


You come from a very musically historic city (Chicago) that birthed its own share of hip-hop icons such as Common, Kanye West, Twista and various other new artists making names for themselves? What are your thoughts on the progress these artists have made in their careers representing your city to the masses?

All 3 of those artists you named I know very well and I’m so very proud of all of them as they have individually raised the bar of Hip-Hop in their own way.  In turn they have brought pride to the city of Chicago and the youth of the new Hip-Hop generation.

R&B/Soul also lists Chicago as a musical landmark with legends ranging from Curtis Mayfield (RIP), the Staples Singers, Donny Hathaway (RIP) to R.Kelly who you’re directly linked to.  How did you two meet and what was your role in his career?

I met R. Kelly at a backyard BBQ party.  When I met him he was the leader of this group called MGM.  I signed R. Kelly to Jive Records and have worked with him ever since.  We have become the best of friends as well as having a trusting and rewarding working relationship.

As an A&R, who were some of the artists you helped get signed and got behind in their careers?

Mr. Lee, R. Kelly, Mystikal, Syleena Johnson, Raheem DeVaughn, Joe, Aaliyah, Charlie Wilson, Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, Jacob Latimore, Alex Boyd, and Issa. (Jacob, Issa, and Alex Boyd are new).

We recently got to see you on VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop” talking with artist Olivia talking about the industry expectations to win.  Is it more about impressive numbers than individual talent to be nurtured now?  Is artist development over at this point?

 At the end of the day it’s about record sales and giving fans a reason to buy your music.  Artist development isn’t over for me as an A&R in this industry, but I can see why others might think so.

With Jive records dissolving into RCA records, what’s the overall vision for the label and its respective artists in 2012?

The vision is to keep finding great talent and great music.

Any wisdom in this business you care to pass along to aspiring executives of the come up?  Any new projects to look out for at RCA records?

To expiring executives I suggest that you stay humble, be reachable, stay in touch with the public, and be open to change.  New Projects to look out for – Mine… LoL!  Jacob Latimore, Issa, and Alex Boyd. And developing some female acts in the horizon (because I still do that).


Derryck “Nes” Johnson.

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