Tamba Hali isn’t your regular NFL player he is all the founder of Religion Records.He treats the music business the same way he treats the game of football, learns everything he can about it than he attacks it. The three time NFL Pro Bowler recently sat down with The Source to talk about his record company Religion Records.
John – People usually say rappers want to be athletes and athletes want to be rappers. How do you feel about that seeing that you do have your own record label?
Tamba- I think it’s all the same, rappers at one point wanted to be superstar athletes, play ball and make a lot of money. Vice versa too, athletes they rap growing up but they didn’t take the path of rapping they took the path of sport growing up. So yes, so some of them still do it as a hobby and sometimes they want to go into the business without knowing what to expect. Usually there is a problem there when you don’t know anything about the business, but I understand what it means.
John – How did you start Religion Records?
Tamba – I partnered up with a couple of people when I first met Gillie Da Kid back three years ago. I wanted to start up a label because I had a real dope producer from Atlanta her name is Coney Gurl, a female producer. She’s a real standout individual as far as creating tracks and producing. I always wanted to create a label I’ve always been passionate about music and I was just learning about the business. I didn’t know much about it but I always rapped, I wasn’t open to putting music out there because of the stigma of athletes being rappers and rappers being athletes. The producer, Coney Gurl she wanted to produce a mixtape for me but I didn’t feel ready enough to put any music out so what I did was I went up to Gil and tried to figure out what his situation was. We then came up with the plan to make the label, it was the right situation for him and I created Religion Records with him and Coney Gurl, and that’s how Religion Records started.
John – The name Religion Records does that come from the music you’re looking for or is it just a name you happened to choose?
Tamba – It’s just the name, it’s not the type of music we’re doing we aren’t doing religious music. We want to set a precedent where the type of music we are doing is real, it’s real music we don’t want to fabricate too much of our music we want artists to be themselves. We don’t want to sell our souls, we basically just want to make good music for people to enjoy and religiously going about the music that way, faithfully. We don’t want it to be about the money, we want music to be your passion and your going to work at it religiously. That’s what you’re going to put your heart into. That’s how we came up with the name, we thought it was a bit controversial in the fact that we used the word “religion” and people are going to associate that with Christian, Muslim, or…but it has nothing to do with religion.
John – You said you were working with Gillie Da Kid. Who else are you working with or who you are looking at?
Tamba – We just signed another guy he’s a pop/rhythmic type of music. His name is Stars, he’s a 25-year old kid from Baltimore. We are going to be pushing his single in the next couple of months.
John – How are you learning the music industry?
Tamba – I’m working with the same lawyer that Jay-Z and Kanye West worked with when they both started their labels. She had Jay-Z when he was about 18 and she was able to help them start Roc-A-Fella with Dame Dash with all them. She was also helping Timbaland.
John – So you’re learning the business side through her?
Tamba – Yea, on the business side of it she has been able to really really school me. I’ve read books and I’ve been around a little bit but she’s the one who really has showed me and told me how things should be done. Sometimes I want to do things with my heart and she’s like “Tamba you’re in this business to make money.” I’m an writer as well and she’s pushing me not to be an artist and I agree with her because I have to play the CEO role for a little while, but all the artists we’ll be signing I’ll be on their tracks. Just trying to create a fan base, athletes that know how to rap, know the business, and don’t just do it as a hobby, really putting in the time and can display that. Sometimes I listen to some of these guys out there music and I truly believe that I’m better than at least 50% of them.
John – If there was another athlete trying to start a record label what would you tell them to watch out for? What would be the pitfalls of being an athlete and starting a label?
Tamba – It’s a business, it’s a real shady business it’s different than football. That business is all upfront, there’s nothing that you don’t know about, you have your agent they’re going to educate you and tell you what’s going on. With this business its not just about making music, there is so many other pieces involved and start to read books and hire some real professionals who have been doing it for a long time. All of these people that are involved they’re all out to get your money, and especially if you are a person coming in with money they’re going to jack up everything. So it’s always best to get a professional who knows what they’re doing get a good lawyer and know the business you’re getting in to. This isn’t a business where if I want to do a song with you that’s the end, we do a song you charge me that’s it. There’s more than that if you’re signed to a different label and putting the song out. If you’re signed to Universal and Universal never cleared you to be on the song they can come back and take the record. Stuff like that, if your not aware you are going to be in a position where you’re moving a lot of money around.
– John McAuliffe (@John_Mac310)