The filmmaker says she's hoping to find "really interesting artists who have a real drive," citing sounds like H.E.R., Miguel, and Lil Nas X
Her acclaimed films have earned her deserved accolades and now Lena Waithe is making major moves in the music arena. The filmmaker will follow the many moguls before her as she crosses over from the silver screen to the studio, and Waithe recently shared with Rolling Stone that she's partnered with Def Jam to establish Hillman Grad Records.
“As I got older and more into my career, I think people really started to pick up on the music choices in the film or TV that I was doing, and that really spoke to me,” Waithe told the publication. She named Prince, Erykah Badu, and Brandy as music icons that she's admired for decades, and it sounds as if she's hoping to become instrumental in reviving the 1990s R&B energy with today's current trends.
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“I don’t want to do the typical thing,” she added. “We are not going to come out with 10 albums a year. It’s about finding really interesting artists who have a real drive and sense of wanting to figure out who they are over time. We really want artists that can grow. Yes, it includes albums and singles, but to me it’s about personality and moments.”
Waithe shared that she finds it "important for artist storytelling to be brought back" in a time when often, the art is not as important as the money-making machine. “That’s going to take time, energy, and trials. But we’re willing to stumble and fall and get back up again.”
She didn't divulge if there were any particular artists she'd set her sights on, but she stated that she's looking to ink deals with creatives who are like Miguel, Lil Nas X, Summer Walker, Jazmine Sullivan, and H.E.R. “I think there is this desire to have artists do the same thing again and again,” Waithe said. “I really miss watching an artist and their albums shift and change with each one. But I want to bring back some of that old vibe and nostalgia and rollout of actual singles.”
Aside from the music, Waithe also revealed that keeping a level head while navigating the entertainment industry will be of the utmost importance as mental health will be something she focuses on with her artists. Who do you think would be a good fit for Hillman Grad Records?