Music Updates

Revealed: Billboard’s 2021 R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players

RCA won a bronze 2020 Clio Award in recognition of its integrated multimedia marketing campaign for Black Music Month. Titled “Black Sounds Beautiful,” the campaign highlighted the work of genre-defining R&B and hip-hop artists signed to the label, including Alicia Keys, Khalid, Childish Gambino, H.E.R. and Kirk Franklin, who have a collective social media reach of 100 million across platforms. The campaign allowed the label to recognize “how much of a role R&B/hip-hop music plays in overall music and culture,” says Williams.

Favorite Artist During the Pandemic: “Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales, because it created a bit of escapism from the heaviness of what was going on in the world.” —Williams

Antonio “L.A.” Reid
Founder/co-chairman, HITCO
Charles Goldstuck
Founder/co-chairman, HITCO
Jaha Johnson
Head of A&R, HITCO

The independent label founded by Reid and Goldstuck celebrated a breakout year with rapper Rubi Rose, who landed on the cover of XXL’s 2021 Freshman Class summer issue, which was “an incredible acknowledgment for her,” says Johnson. The breakout star was also featured in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “W.A.P.” video and released her debut mixtape, For the Streets, in December. Another recent coup is “the rise of SAINt JHN,” says Johnson, citing the July release of his SZA collaboration “Just for Me,” which led “into the launch of the summer blockbuster Space Jam: A New Legacy,” he adds.

The Change We Still Need to See: “While I love the push to have more Black executives inside the major labels, the real push should also be to support more independent labels and production companies. It is the vision of labels like Quality Control, LVRN and HITCO that will become the major labels of the future.” —Johnson

Sylvia Rhone
Chairman/CEO, Epic Records
Traci Adams
Executive vp urban promotions, Epic Records
Ezekiel Lewis
Executive vp/head of A&R, Epic Records
June Cardona
VP mixshow and lifestyle promo, Epic Records
Jennifer Goicoechea
VP A&R, Epic Records
Mike Hamilton
Senior director of sales, Epic Records

Sylvia Rhone’s team at Epic watched Giveon’s 2020 single “Heartbreak Anniversary” take off on TikTok, amassing over 1.5 billion streams and peaking at No. 16 on the Hot 100 more than a year after its release, while his album When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Epic also helped drive the success of projects from the Black Eyed Peas, Travis Scott, Future, 21 Savage, DJ Khaled, DDG, Tyla Yaweh and Littlejohn 4K, among others. Rhone is equally proud of Sony Music Group’s 2020 social impact campaign, Your Voice, Your Power, Your Vote. “Through a series of short films and PSAs featuring artists and songwriters from the Sony roster like Pharrell Williams, DJ Khaled, H.E.R. and,” she says, “we encouraged and empowered voters to take action and be heard.”

The Power of Black Music in One Word: “Reflective.” —Rhone

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