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Must read for upcoming artist! At 26, Hip-Hop Star Russ Is Earning $15M A Year—And Showing How To Succeed In Music Now

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Throughout his young career, hip-hop sensation Russell “Russ” Vitale has made headlines for his verbal dustups with other rappers.
But on a recent Monday morning at Boston’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, with his long locks flowing over a Prince-purple denim jacket, he has a different sort of target in his sights: music industry attorneys.

“Lawyers will try to take 5% from you,” Russ fumes. “Artists need to start taking back the power and start taking back the leverage.” He goes on

“I am not giving you 5% of gross income for sitting in an office in L.A.,” he says, adding an expletive, “while I am busting my ass on the road or in the studio

The 26-year-old may not be the most diplomatic artist, but his dedication is unquestionable. Unlike many artists, he got his start doing everything himself—rapping, writing, singing, producing, mixing and mastering—in his Atlanta basement as a teenager. After releasing 11 mixtapes in a two-and-a-half-year span, he’d gained enough leverage to land a multimillion-dollar advance from Columbia with a rare 50/50 profit split on future releases last year.

“His work ethic was top notch, and due to his constant communication with his fans and his willingness to tour, he had built himself an army of rabid fans,” says Imran Majid, executive VP and co-head of Artists & Repertoire at Columbia Records. “Rarely do you have an artist who understands not only the artistry but also the business side of things. Russ has a very clear vision, and he knew exactly what he wanted and exactly where he wanted to go.”

For Russ, the move paid off. He pulled in $15 million over our June-to-June scoring period claiming the No. 20 spot on Forbes’ list of hip-hop’s top earners and a featured spot on our 30 Under 30 list in the Music category. Now he’s playing large venues like the Staples Center in Los Angeles; this fall’s new album, Zoo, boosted his career tally of 2.8 billion spins, much of it from the 300-song catalog he still owns.

“I got the exact deal that I wanted. I think that is super important for artists to understand that, go in there with leverage,” Russ says. “I want to be a massive superstar … but I am going to make sure that the deal is right.”

At the outset, though, Russ became an independent, do-it-yourself act more out of necessity than as a part of a carefully considered business decision. He started making music as a teenager but didn’t know anyone who could mix or master the songs he wrote, rapped and sang, so he taught himself with the help of online how-to guides. He did the same with distribution, where his research led him to TuneCore, an indie service that allowed him to place his songs on major streaming services. If he’d signed with a label at the outset, he likely would have had to give up his master recordings and publishing rights. Instead, he hung onto both.

“I am so proud of my 18-year-old self,” he says. “Because I am still eating off decisions I made back then.”

His first checks started out as small as 20 cents apiece, but eventually they increased by orders of magnitude. Soon he was getting checks for hundreds, then thousands, every week—“making money while you sleep,” he says—while continuing to methodically grow his fan base on the road.

In late 2015, when his songs started to take off on Soundcloud, he met Edgar Esteves, an established music-video director who has worked with stars like J Cole and DJ Khaled, and shot two simple music videos. “Losin Control” featured only Russ, a young woman, a white Ford Mustang and an empty parking garage; “What They Want” was just Russ walking around a woodsy autumn landscape. But the videos resonated—today they’re closing in on half a billion combined views on YouTube.

It wasn’t long before Russ had occasion to start interacting with music industry lawyers. He won’t go into specifics about his situation, saying only that he learned about the pitfalls of paying an attorney on a percentage basis26, Hip-Hop  m Is  $15Mm A — 

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Mr Eazi proposes to Temi Otedola!

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For what seemed like a long while, celebrity power couple—Mr Eazi and Temi Otedola—are finally engaged as Oluwatosin Ajibade better known as Mr Eazi pops the heartwarming “Will you be my wife?” question to his girlfriend of 2 years Temiloluwa Otedola and she responded favourably in the affirmative “Yes” tone.

Fashion mogul and Icon Temi Otedola began dating artiste and music label CEO Mr Eazi in the year 2020 and have been living together ever since in their London apartment, sharing intimate moments, even meeting respective family members. This they’ve both shared in detail on their How Far? With Mr Eazi And Temi Otedola podcast.

Temi announced her engagement by posting the sea-side proposal of Mr Eazi on one knee asking the important question. The video goes by the simple caption of the infinity logo connoting they’re both locked in for life.

Congratulations to Temi Otedola and Mr Eazi!

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Nicki Minaj agrees “Essence” should be song of the year at the Grammys

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American superstar rapper, Nicki Minaj, shares the same sentiments as myriads of Wizkid fans and well-wishers worldwide, in that she concurs to the argument the trendsetting crossover record-breaking single from Wizkid’s 2020 released “Made In Lagos” album, Essence should be in the conversation for the coveted “Record of the Year” plaque at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Although “Essence” did not receive the much desired nomination in the category for “Record of the Year” at the 2022 Grammy Awards, it did get a nod for Best Global Music Performance, the first of its kind.

Irrespective of the snub, Nicki whilie on Joe Budden TV (YouTube) as a guest on the special episode tagged A Conversation With Nicki Minaj & Joe Budden agreed with the host (Joe Budden) when he said “We need people on the Grammy board that know that “Essence” was song of the year” with an exclamatory “Right! Right!” response. She even proffered, “We should have our own Grammy Board“, in support of many and the popular believe that Black Americans or black artistes in general are always stereotyped to a particular category at the award show, if indeed they made it to the top categories, they barely win; Nicki Minaj does not have a Grammy Award herself and that is still a shock to many, especially when considering her refined catalogue of music.

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Pheelz & Buju (BNXN) live the carefree lifestyle on “Finesse”

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After much teasing, the anticipated Finesse by Pheelz and Buju (now BNXN) hit DSPs across the globe and just like the teaser gave off, Finesse is a banger! It is produced by young producer under Pheelz’s wing known as Miichkel.

On Finesse, Pheelz and Buju live their life to the fullest, the carefree lifestyle is what they desire and they are determined to stay on that track for the time being. “I’ve been living the fast life but I see it in slow mo / And you see my lifestyle, I got Gs in the turbo / . . . / Bad girl sey she want Netflix & Chill / So I ja ticket give her warning / If you fall in love, girls it’s certain / You go chop breakfast, I’m not capping“, Pheelz explains on the first verse, even saying love and relationship cannot stop him from living the ‘ballers’ lifestyle; “I’d be dammed if there’s anybody that could be like me / I be like Mo’ Salah, coming up the right wing / I cut through your defender, you no need to tell me / I must finesse / And you know sey me I must net“, Buju braggingly adds on the second verse, saying he can score any chick that catches his eye and dish her the next minute.

listen to the popular joyous chorus “Ah finesse / If I broke na my business / Ama shana e go bright o / Folake for the nighr ohere or on Apple Music.:

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