Highlighting Key People in Hip-Hop

No matter how big an artist is, there’s always someone behind them making things happen. For Nas, that’s Gabriel “G-Code” Zardes. Since his early days of throwing parties with friends in Los Angeles, G-Code has come a long way. His start in the music industry came in the form of a co-management position for singer/songwriter J. Myers. Now, he’s currently Hip-Hop’s godson Nas’ right hand man. The life behind the scenes caught his attention after he found himself meeting different people and getting numerous opportunities to travel the world. When he’s not in the role of road manager for the Distant Relatives tour, he takes the seat as executive A&R at Emagen Entertainment Group. Here he reveals key points surrounding his career thus far and even lets us into the mind of an A&R. Take notes.

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When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry?
In 2005, I was working with a singer/songwriter/producer J. Myers. He’s very talented. I noticed that the behind the scenes became intriguing to me. Once you start to learn the business side of the industry, it gets kind of interesting. You start to learn something new everyday.

How did you find yourself in key positions like working alongside Nas?
I started hanging around a lot of people and that position kind of happened over night. It wasn’t a handout or anything. It was more so of just being in the right place at the right time. Nas and I were hanging out before we started working together. Distant Relatives was the start of our working relationship. I learned the music from being around it. When it started, there was no ‘This person do this, this person do that.’ I was already there so I took on the tasks.


You are an A&R at Emagen Entertainment Group. What do you do throughout the day?
I’ll sit with a lot of producers and engineers on the artists’ behalf and build with them to find a particular sound. I also sit with the artist at the same time to see what it is that they want to talk about. It’s a lot of back and forth with them when it comes to putting a particular song together and packaging a whole album. It’s also about having an ear for certain things. With Nas, he values my opinion. I’m not a yes man or anything. I give my honest opinion and we go from there.

When working on Life Is Good, did you think the project would get that amount of positive attention that it receives?
Honestly, I did and I’m not being biased. In music, a lot of artists put out records that are watered down and have no substance. Even though a lot of artists lives are out there in the media, they have to wonder whether they should talk about it or not. He took a chance to talk about it and let what’s going on be known. Artists need to realize that that’s what people want to hear at the end of the day. They want honesty. Listeners want to hear the truth in the music and not just a ton of things that they’ve already heard before.

What advice do you have for someone aspiring to be an A&R?
Work hard and be yourself at the end of the day. Sometimes being yourself can get you a lot further than a résumé can. If you have the opportunity to sit in a room and listen, you can pick up things. If you’re a good person that’s easy to get along with, someone that’s approachable, people will gravitate towards you. Make sure this is something you want to do. Make sure you’re ready for whatever. It’s going to be times where you aren’t going to want to do this, or do that, or hear something from someone but a lot comes with the position. You have to be prepared mentally and physically.

What’s next on your agenda?
The Grammy’s is next. We’re nominated for four Grammy’s for Life Is Good so hopefully we’ll walk away with all of them. We just did a big deal with Hennessey. We already started going back in the studio for another album. There’s a lot of stuff that we did that wasn’t put on the album. I think the next one is going to be 10xs better than the other albums. The next one is going to be even better. As far as Emagen Entertainment Group, we’re working with a new singer by the name of Nylo who I think a lot of people are going to love. We also have producer Fisticuffs who produced most of Miguel’s debut album and also a few songs for Jhene Aiko. We have other producers and songwriters as well so we’ll just be making a lot of moves this year.

Follow G-Code on twitter: @GabeHeight

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