Beyond anchoring a Grammy nomination thanks to his featured verse on D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli,” Lil Yachty is also assembling his Sailing Team, a musical crew that also includes Atlanta rapper/singer Kodie Shane. Since creating her first official track called “Crown Me” at 14, 15 years old and penning songs for a popular Atlanta group [she wouldn’t reveal the act’s name beyond saying she wrote their “best songs”], the 19-year-old Epic Records MC has been exposed to the industry since she was a youngin’. Her older sister Brandi Williams was part of the girl group Blaque, best known for the Hot 100 Top 10 hits, 1999’s “808” and 2000’s “Bring It All To Me.” Now, Shane has become a SoundCloud darling, amassing plays in the millions with melodic offerings like “Hold Up” — the flashy jam featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty — and “Sad,” another Yachty duet whose hook finds Shane simply singing, “I just wanna be sad.” Her “Drip On My Walk” visual has also racked up two million views on YouTube.
Several days after releasing her Zero Gravity EP, the follow-up to this year’s previously released Little Rocket EP and 2060 project, Shane dropped by Billboard to discuss making music “ahead of its time” and collaborating with Yachty.
BILLBOARD: You grew up in a musical family. What do you remember of that time?
KODIE SHANE: Well, a long time ago, before I was actually a thought, my sister was in a group, Blaque, that was signed by [industry veteran] Tommy Mottola, but it was Left Eye’s group. When my mom and dad were dating at the time, they were doing this whole group thing with his daughter, my sister Brandi, so my mom helped develop them and they stayed at her house. She helped them become a group because [the members] didn’t really know each other. They were put together. They had to learn how to gel and just be one. After my mom helped develop them, Left Eye took them to the office and they got signed. It was pretty fire.
Did seeing your sister’s success make you want to pursue a career in music too?
Yeah because when I was a baby, they were touring and I was on tour with them. I just grew up and almost had no choice. I could do whatever I wanted to do, but it’s like for as long as I can remember, [music was] probably what I was going to do. I wanted to play basketball at one point but not really more than I wanted to entertain. I wouldn’t even say just being an artist — I wanted to entertain.
You wouldn’t think an album no one bought would place high on a list of year-end accomplishments, but the Epic Records compilation Epic AF isn’t just any album. In fact, it’s not an album in the traditional sense, but more of a playlist solution to a music-packaging problem. The problem, as Epic’s Joshua saw it, was that the Billboard 200 album chart now tallies 1,500 streams, or 10 purchased downloads of a song, as one album sold — but if an online single isn’t tied to a larger project, those streams don’t count on the chart. So Joshua proposed to label chief Antonio “L.A.” Reid that Epic take its artists’ hugely popular one-off tracks — like DJ Khaled’s Jay Z and Future collaboration “I Got the Keys,” the Snapchat star’s lead single to his then-unreleased LP Major Key — bundle them as one streaming-only playlist and call the compilation an album. It worked: Released July 17, Epic AF debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200, spent four weeks in the top 10 and peaked at No. 5.
“I wanted to create a product meant to behave the way consumers do,” says Joshua, a Beverly Hills resident who was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in Los Angeles. “Epic AF was the first of its kind: a playlist, product and consumption [tool] rolled into one.” The concept also worked as a kind of promotional tool, helping the label score Billboard 200 No. 1s by Future, Travis Scott and Khaled.
Also in 2016, under the auspices of Rhone — who served as Universal Motown Records president before joining Epic in 2013 — Epic’s bragging rights include the Billboard 200 No. 1 debut of A Tribe Called Quest’s swan song We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, two Billboard 200 top five sophomore albums (Meghan Trainor’s Thank You and Fifth Harmony’s 7/27, which included the girl group’s Hot 100 No. 4 hit “Work From Home”), four No. 1s on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (LPs from Future, Scott, Khaled and Yo Gotti) and a Top Rock Albums No. 1 from Chevelle. In addition, Epic estimates its streaming business to be up more than 130 percent in 2016 versus 2015.
As Epic settles into it new Culver City digs on the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot, Joshua and a now bicoastal Rhone are focusing on 2017. One major push will be the debut album from Swedish artist Zara Larsson, named best new act at the recent MTV Europe Music Awards. The other will be maintaining Epic’s hot streak. As Joshua says, “Innovation is important.”
Biggest Splurge: Joshua: “Quality, well-designed, handmade watches. Looking down and seeing them always keeps me on time.”
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Rhone: “Dinah Washington. My parents played her music all the time — and I can still sing ‘What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’ after all these years.”
RICK ROSS PREMIERES CINEMATIC MUSIC VIDEO FOR “BUY BACK THE BLOCK” FEATURING GUCCI MANE & 2 CHAINZ
(December 2, 2016 – New York, NY) – Today, 21st century hip-hop icon Rick Ross premieres the music video for his new single “Buy Back The Block” [feat. Gucci Mane & 2 Chainz] on VEVO. Watch it HERE. It’s the first release from his ninth full-length album, Epic Records debut, and one of 2017’s most anticipated hip-hop events, Rather You Than Me [MMG/Epic]—arriving early next year.
Once again, the multiplatinum four-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated rap juggernaut and Maybach Music Group visionary delivers a larger-than-life visual worthy of his legendary wordplay with “Buy Back The Block.” Helmed by frequent collaborator director Ryan Snyder [Diddy, Yo Gotti], the clip begins with a sharp and slick dialogue exchange between Ross and Gucci Mane, while washing a car. They get the idea to “Buy Back The Block” as “the move,” and the action kicks into high gear. These rap luminaries intensely deliver their verses at locations throughout Atlanta, energizing their surroundings as cash flies everywhere in the process. It’s a raw and real return to form for one of this generation’s preeminent rappers.
Since its November release, “Buy Back The Block” has already generated over 1.4 million Spotify streams and counting. Complex proclaimed it, “one more gift from the Maybach Music Group,” while HotNewHipHop praised his “strong performance on the closing verse.”
Ross recently made headlines when he creatively announced the album title Rather You Than Me by brandishing it across his sweatshirt on the red carpet at the American Music Awards—a move applauded by Forbes. Later that night, he joined DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, Future, Chris Brown, August Alsina, and Jeremih for a powerhouse performance of the Major Key smash “Do You Mind.”
2016 has been a knockout year for Ross. He teamed up with Skrillex for the gold-certified “Purple Lamborghini” from the year’s biggest soundtrack album, the platinum Suicide Squad Official Soundtrack. He also celebrated the tenth anniversary of his full-length debut, Port of Miami, which received a platinum plaque.
However, 2017 is gearing up to be even bigger with Rick Ross’s next chapter underway…
“Untouchable” is the best way to describe Rick Ross’s decade-plus run at the top of rap. Along the way, he achieved five Billboard Top 200 #1 debuts and three #2 debuts, received four Grammy Award® nominations, graced the cover of Rolling Stone twice, and made history more than once. His debut single “Hustlin’” became the “first mastertone ever certified RIAA platinum before the associated album had been released.” He sold millions of singles and albums and cemented his status as one of rap’s biggest and brashest voices. Moreover, he founded Maybach Music Group home to Meek Mill, Wale, and more. Signing to Epic Records in 2016, his “untouchable” streak continues with the impending release of his ninth full-length Rather You Than Me.
(Dec. 2, 2016 – New York, NY) After breaking out nationwide on record and on tour with Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team crew (“All In”), fellow Atlanta rapper Kodie Shane has graduated to Epic Records, which has released her debut 5-song EP ZERO GRAVITY today.
Centerpiece of the EP is “Sad” (featuring Lil Yachty) whose video premiered today at 10:00 a.m. (EST) on Noisey, coinciding with the EP’s arrival. Listen to “Sad” HERE. “Sad” has exploded across the web – after being featured on Spotify’s Most Necessary Playlist. The track list for ZERO GRAVITY comprises: 1. Drip In My Walk * 2. Sad featuring Lil Yachty * 3. Can You Handle It * 4. Losing Service * 5. A Ok.
Tastemakers unanimously declared Kodie was the breakout discovery on the track and video of Lil Yachty’s six and a half-minute “All In,” from his July mixtape Summer Songs 2. “All In” was described by i.D (Vice) as “a Ruff Ryders meets Rugrats squad anthem… The song’s standout star, Kodie Shane, the Sailing Team’s lone female member whose grandpa named her after a cowboy.” FADER applauded Kodie’s “show-stealing verse” on “All In.”
Kodie Shane released her debut indie mixtape 2060 in early 2016, which grabbed over a million-plus streams at SoundCloud in one week. She issued her first indie EP in June 2016, the 5-song Little Rocket, featuring original versions of “Can You Handle It” and “Losing Service.” The EP arrived in tandem with Lil Yachty’s 20-city Boat Show Summer 2016 Tour, which prominently featured Kodie as a member of the Sailing team (in keeping with Yachty’s “love for all things maritime” (i.D reported). As the first member of the Sailing Team “to make some big moves” (Complex), Kodie enlisted Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert for a fresh new track later on, “Hold Up.”
Kodie is one of eight up-and-coming hip-hop artists showcasing their talent in an online competition called “Fresh on Deck.” The influencer campaign is sponsored by Fresh Empire and Complex. The winner will receive a headlining spot on the June 2017 Fresh Empire Tour with a major hip-hop artist.
Most recently, on Thanksgiving Sunday, Kodie hosted an intimate 100-plus person listening event for ZERO GRAVITY at Bowlmar Lanes in Atlanta, attended by Lil Yachty and the Sailing Team, local radio, press, and close friends showing their love and support.