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.
(December 1, 2016 – New York, NY) Critically buzzing Richmond-based rap crew DIVINE COUNCIL unleash the music video for their latest track “DECEMBA” (Remix) [Feat. $ilk Money & André Benjamin] on Complex today.
Directed by legendary music and cultural trailblazer André Benjamin and also featuring a downright fiery verse from the OutKast rhymer, the clip explodes as equally crazed and captivating. DIVINE COUNCIL’s $ilk Money stands on trial in front of a packed courthouse with his collaborators Cyrax Bathbwoy, Lord Linco, and Chicago-based rapper/producer ICYTW*T. Through an unexpected turn of events and after some downright impressive rapping, $ilk Money escapes with his cohorts into the arms of a beautiful young lady before all hell breaks loose—quite literally reflecting the music’s twisted lyrical narrative.
The video is as unique, unpredictable, and undeniable as the hip-hop collective itself is.
Right now, DIVINE COUNCIL is tearing up stages across the country on the HIHORSE’D TOUR supporting Young Thug and special guest 21 Savage. See a photo-recap HERE. Check out remaining dates below.
Meanwhile, since its debut on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show, “Decemba” (Remix) is already over 500,000 plays on Spotify.
DIVINE COUNCIL continue attracting critical acclaim. Rolling Stone exalted them among “10 Artists You Need To Know.” Noisey called them, “funny and ironic at times, dark and somber at others—but thoroughly fresh and unusual throughout,” while Complex sums them up best, “The bounce is undeniable.”
DIVINE COUNCIL was born in Richmond, VA far away from any major music metropolis. This creative vacuum encouraged them to cook up a distinct sound informed by everything from inventive hip-hop and slick R&B/soul to reggae, nodding to two members’ Jamaican descent. With an aesthetic reflecting the internet zeitgeist, the boys sent shockwaves throughout hip-hop, signing to Epic Records and receiving the blessing of Erykah Badu and André Benjamin. Their viral hit “P. Sherman (PS42WW$)” cracked 1 million Spotify streams and introduced their EP Council World. Simultaneously, DIVINE COUNCIL’s ICYTW*T, 18 and from Chicago, has cemented himself as an in-demand producer the likes of Madeintyo, Father, and ASAP Mob’s Playboi Carti.
TOUR DATES w/Young Thug & 21 Savage
12.7 Showbox SODO Seattle, WA– Buy tickets HERE
12.8 Roseland Theater Portland, OR– Buy tickets HERE
12.9 The Warfield San Francisco, CA– Buy tickets HERE
12.11 Ogden Theatre Denver, CO– Buy tickets HERE
12.13 Revention Music Center Houston, TX– Buy tickets HERE
12.14 Bomb Factory Dallas, TX– Buy tickets HERE
12.16 Venue 578 Orlando, FL– Buy tickets HERE
12.18 Terminal 5 New York, NY – Buy tickets HERE