Dedicated to My First Love: Hip-Hop

“…Told her if she got an image and a gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it …
Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the ’burbs lookin’ rock and dressin’ hip
…who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop”

– Common

Loving hip hop, in the past, meant following the newest trends, as well as to perform acapella renditions of classic hip hop songs with my friends. It meant observing and sometimes following urban fashion trends. It meant religiously listening to Hot 97 to be up on the newest songs, and avidly watching Free and AJ host BET’s 106th and Park to learn the latest dances. It meant disobeying my mother’s wishes to switch to a musical genre that didn’t frequently use offensive language. I loved hip-hop so much I fantasized of acquiring an internship and eventually landing a job at a major record label such as Def Jam or Atlantic Records. The internship I got instead exceeded any daydream I had, let alone any expectations I had for the internship. So like Common, I took loving hip-hop to the next level the summer of ’08; I committed to her.

My desire to be closer to hip-hop led me to Acme Content Co, a branding company. The opportunity wasn’t necessarily what I had in mind, but I was willing to give it a shot. I was told that corporate giant P&G, was looking to successfully market their body spray, TAG, by differentiating the product from the competing body spray. P&G and its companies observed that there were no body sprays that targeted young, urban males. P&G and Acme agreed that the best way to successfully market to urban, young males was through hip-hop. In order to believably market to this demographic, they decided to team up with the living hip-hop legend, and coincidentally, the president of Island Def Jam, Jermaine Dupri to start a record label from the ground up. These perceptive observations led to TAG Records’ birth, a little before I signed on to work for the internship. I started working just as they were deciding between two acts. They finally agreed on the lyricist Q da Kid. I must admit, I was fairly impressed with the decision to sign Q, because the other act would’ve been a much safer choice because of the whole N.E.R.D./ Lupe Fiasco/Kanye West vibe the group had going for it. But instead Q was chosen, despite his rawness. They saw potential in this dude from Brooklyn, who was also committed to hip-hop and decided to take a chance on him. I respected that. I also respected their decision to give him creative freedom with very reasonable limits. So learning this, I felt pretty confident that I would soon feel comfortable joining the team that would help to make both P&G’s and Q’s dream come true.

I courted hip-hop mainly through TAG’s Myspace page. I communicated with other music lovers, and fans of both TAG and Q. I also helped to build our network through Core Djs’ networking site. I officially became the intern/community manager. Every day I listened to our friends’ music and help to decide which artists would make “Spotlight.” I also made sure I was up to date with the ever-evolving music industry by reading blogs. I also loved the perks, such as free music, attending commercial shoots and other major events as well as meeting hip hop celebrities. Like all relationships, it wasn’t always easy, but if you love what you do, then all the work is worth it.

All in all, the summer internship at Acme was a very unexpected, but thoroughly, enjoyable one. Through the internship, I am still fervently committed to hip-hop and in this relationship for the long haul.

– Ernestine Belgrave, ACME Intern

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American Brandstand: TAG & ACME Featured in New York Times

This is actually the third NY Times piece that has covered TAG Records – which must be a sign that we are on to something to special. This particular article happens to highlight the fact that TAG is just one of a number of brands that are currently jumping into the music space in interesting ways. All of these programs (Bacardi, Red Bull, TAG, and Converse) are getting major buzz upon announcement, but the real test will be how any of them move the sales needle. Now we all watch, unless you are actually part of one of the campaigns – and the work is really just beginning!

Indeed, brands are getting deeper and deeper into the music business, but they are not exactly forcing themselves in. Savvy labels and artists are embracing the right types of branded programs, and if you were around 5-10 years ago, it simply wasn’t the case.

“When I started in this business 10 years ago, it was hard to get an artist to stand in front of a sign with a logo on it,” said David Caruso, the co-founder of Acme, the agency that negotiated the deal between Island Def Jam and Tag.

Now artists are actually calling brands. Seems crazy, but I like to think they are getting smart 🙂

Read the entire article here.

TAG Records Launch Party – A Huge Success!

Lots of heavy hitting members of THE hip-hop elite came out to help celebrate the launch of TAG Records! Everyone from Nelly and Slim Thug to Nas and Bill Maher hit the party at the soon-to-open  Kress. Blog coverage has been huge, but here are a couple of videos and some pictures that help document the scene:

and from Rap-Up:

Pics from Wire Image here and here.

Living the Life, with Jermaine Dupri (David Caruso Cameo)

I love the current trend of artist talking to fans via YouTube – gritty, iMovie produced YouTube videos. Jermaine Dupri was certainly an early adopter of this new practice and has developed a steady fanbase of regular viewers. His YouTube channel certainly garners enough attention on its own, but throw in a Jay-Z or Mariah or Janet and of course the views grow exponentially. He has even used fans response via YouTube to help steer decisions around new artists, and as expected, to show off some gear.

As President of TAG Records, it is safe to assume we will see some TAG references throughout his Living the Life series. Here is JD at the recent photo shoot for TAG. Note the ACME cameo as well 🙂

Tag Records Discussed at Venice Festival of Media

Ah… the Festival of Media. There is something about ‘Festival of Media‘ that just doesn’t sound right. Perhaps something is lost in translation? Maybe it is a raucous party and I am bummed we missed it? Regardless, TAG Records appears to have been a topic of conversation on at least one panel, and it is always refreshing to hear about others that understand the idea.

Citizen Sound provided a recap, since we couldn’t be there 🙂 Thanks!