Home Artistic creation RESPECT. Interview: Tebs Maqubela, Head of A&R for Hillman Grad Records, talks developing talent, working alongside Lena Waithe and more

RESPECT. Interview: Tebs Maqubela, Head of A&R for Hillman Grad Records, talks developing talent, working alongside Lena Waithe and more


Image Credit: Hillman Grad Records

As the A&R Manager for Hillman Grad Records—Maqubela is responsible for finding and nurturing musical talent, while playing a vital role in the development of artists, through music creation, marketing and promotion. As a key label leader that produces “music you can feel”, Maqubela comprehensively plans artists’ careers and oversees recording projects and operations – whether it’s arranging sessions recording – to serve as a link between songwriters, record producers and other creatives. . In addition, Maqubela identifies the vision and structure of each project. Driven by his mission to challenge the status quo, Maqubela helped shape the music roster and release the catalog in less than a year as the new hotbed of hip-hop and R&B.

Formed in March 2021, Maqubela is the liaison with Def Jam Recordings, following the joint venture partnership. Since joining HG Records, Maqubela has signed 4 up-and-coming artists partnering with Waithe – and being her ear for the label – 2x GRAMMY®, ASCAP Award-Winning R&B Artist Davion Farris, singer/songwriter/actress Jai’Len Josey (Synchronization: The Chi, and Around twenty), CS Armstrong (to sychronize : Bel-Air)and rapper and actress Siya (synchronizes: Around twenty, and half-sisters).

Leveraging opportunities across music, television and film, Maqubela works directly with Lena’s music supervisor, Big Tank (aka Derek Thornton), and was able to capitalize on the cultural meaning generated when these worlds meaningfully intersect. Specifically, Maqubela reads scripts and finds music to embody a moment. As Showtime’s most-watched series, The Chi, Maqubela and his team created a special visual concept album for television and a feature film titled “Chi Concert Sounds” (an artistic endeavor similar to that of Beyonceì Lemonade) and helped score the soundtrack and bring that vision to life. The production included a celebration of music and spoken word, with performances by BJ The Chicago Kid, Jai’Len Josey, DeCarlo and Davion Farris. Reflecting his love for music and storytelling, Maqubela also scored the soundtrack and musical supervision for the #2 comedy television series on BET, Around twentyand The one and only Dick Gregory (album inspired by the Showtime documentary film) – with an all-star collection of soul, R&B and hip-hop music that includes: Lupe Fiasco, Big KRIT, Cory Henry, Talib Kweli, Terrace Martin, Statik Selektah, Danni Baylor, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Bobby Sessions from Def Jam, among others. Additionally, Maqubela oversaw the soundtrack and musical supervision of MR SOUL!music inspired by the award-winning documentary, with an all-star soundtrack, featuring classic soul/R&B tracks from Donny Hathaway, Patti LaBelle, Hugh Masekela, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Delfonics, and Kool and the gang. The feature film received honors – 2021 Critics’ Choice Awardas well as a NAACP Image Award Winner.

To ensure that black designers had a seat at the table, Maqubela created a global movement alongside chief executive Albert Cooke and global beauty brand Sephoraentitled SEPHORA: ROOM OF BLACK BEAUTY– a visual celebration of the contribution of black creators in the beauty space with live performances by Jai’Len Josey, Symphani Soto, Kari Faux and Leven Kali.

Before HG Records, Maqubela joined the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group LLC, to expand its skillset on the startup front – a highly diversified global investment manager with approximately $54.2 billion in assets under management as of September 2021, for clients and private investors worldwide. In her role, Maqubela watched Sound Cloud, Spotify, SESACand SONGS Music Editing – which former President Ron Perry sold before going to Columbia Records.

Previously, Maqubela also formed strong ties with the then-budding hip-hop music collective. Brockhamptonwhile managing the first members Rodney Tenor as they found their way to explosive success. In this role, Maqubela helped Tenor develop his own music as a solo artist. Moreover, Maqubela was also the Director by A&R at Columbia Recordswhere he signed and helped develop acts such as the seething alt-R&B, yet genre-transcending singer named Q. His vision was to sign artists with a unique voice – who push the boundaries of creativity in the vein of Tyler the Creator and Adele. During his time as an artist manager, Maqubela co-managed the highly sought after Memphis Recording Artist Jon Waltz. The rapper/singer has multiple songs on 1 million streams on every major platform, has garnered interest from all major labels despite yet to release a full album and is expected to be a smash hit.

Building on his career in the music industry, Maqubela joined 300 Entertainment and rose through the ranks from intern to Marketing Manager – an American independent record company founded by Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold, Kevin Liles and Todd Moscowitz. Maqubela was tasked with leveraging 300 Entertainment’s Spotify presence, in addition to creating, designing and operating #RisktakerFMa playlist initiative that has garnered over 8,000 organic subscribers on 300’s branded playlist. Fetty Wap and Young Thug shared the campaign.

We had the chance to speak with Tebs to discuss his work as A&R for Hillman Grad Records, developing artist, ideal qualities for an artist, Sounds of the Chi concert and much more. Enter the audio of the interview below.

Interview Highlights:

How’s life.

His role as A&R for Hillman Grad Records.

Joint venture with Def Jam Recordings.

Working with Lean Waithe.

Artist in development.

His role Previously at 300 Entertainment.

Her favorite artist to work with.

Top 3 qualities required for an artist.

His Top 5 Artist of all time.

Name a song that describes his life.

What RESPECT. Means for him.

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Ayana Rached

a dedicated sneaker + sports + music writer who will keep you up to date with the latest news. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @ajrbcg_

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