Lena Waithe says she’s looking for the next Lil Nas X, H.E.R. for record label

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In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Lena Waithe says she’s looking for the next Lil Nas X and H.E.R. for her new record label.

As theGrio previously reported, Lena Waithe announced her new record label in partnership with Def Jam. At the time of the announcement, the industry powerhouse shared that she hoped to “develop the next generation of underrepresented artists” with the new label, Hillman Grad Productions

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Waithe opened up about what kinds of artists she hopes to snag for the label, citing inspirations like Lil Nas X and H.E.R., some of the most prominent voices in music today.

COMPTON, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 08: Executive Producer Lena Waithe attends Amazon Studios’ “Them” Drive-in Special Screening on April 08, 2021 in Compton, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Amazon Studios’)

Speaking to what will set Hillman Grad apart from the other labels, Waithe shared in the interview, “I don’t want to do the typical thing. 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.” 

She added that the main focus is for “artist storytelling to be brought back,” sharing that it’s “going to take time, energy, and trials. But we’re willing to stumble and fall and get back up again.”

Waithe cites that they are looking for artists who will share their personal stories and offer growth, citing Lil Nas X, Jazmine SullivanSummer Walker, and H.E.R. as examples.

She explained, “I think there is this desire to have artists do the same thing again and again. 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.”

Waithe also opened up about how her extensive experience in the TV and Film space shapes how she is approaching the label.

Waithe says, “There are ways the movie and TV businesses tend to pat themselves on the back for things they should’ve been doing a long time ago. Everybody has a lot of work to do. White guys are in charge on both sides and there needs to be a lot more inclusion.

“The artists, the people in the front, are often those people who are othered. It’s about who’s in the back office, or cutting checks, or having the green-light power. There’s a lot of us that need to be in those rooms.”

Lena Waithe's Hillman Grad Productions Partners With The WUTI Drive-In For Screening Of "Paris Is Burning"
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 26: Lena Waithe speaks at the screening of “Paris Is Burning”, presented by Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions partnered with the WUTI Drive-In, at Exposition Park on February 26, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

The new record label was first announced in March, as theGrio previously reported. At the time of the announcement, Waithe shared a statement on her inspiration, sharing, “Music and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. And I think that’s because musicians are the storytellers we love the most.

“They can take complex emotions and simplify it in four minutes, the same artist can sing about the revolution and falling in love. Music is a part of us. It’s so often connected to our fondest and sometimes our darkest memories.”

You can read the entire Rolling Stone interview with Waithe here.

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