“Artists are more accessible than ever,” Geffen tells Billboard. “You can be in Germany and have a No. 1, 2 or 5 record and 30 years ago, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Now, Geffen and Revels Group co-founder and co-CEO Jamil Davis talk to Billboard about how they have strategically positioned themselves to work with some of music’s biggest names. See their conversation below.
How does it feel for The Revels Group to be a part of the two most talked about hip-hop albums right now? And from a business standpoint, is the beef between Kanye West and Drake helpful in terms of album promotion?
Davis: It feels good. We started the producer division when Geffen came to us with the idea. When you’re starting up, you throw out lines and hope somebody takes a chance on you to help lead their career and be a part of their team. To be a part of the legacy of these two super-respected artists’ that everybody is talking about feels good. Ambezza was one of the first big producers to take a chance on us after “Life Is Good” [by Future featuring Drake]. To see this happen now with him, us and Drake is full circle. I’ve been working with Drake for 12 years as a tour manager, so to be able to work with him in this capacity from the creative side feels good.
I applaud creative competitiveness because it brings the best out of everybody. It brings more eyes to it. Any time greats can push each other is exciting for the fans. If anything, I won’t call it beef — I’ll call it two greats pushing themselves competitively. I always tell people, “It’s good to be competitive if it’s brings out the best, but don’t be com-petty ever.”
Geffen: For these placements, we can’t take any credit. It’s more of a testament to the strong relationships those guys have built, like Ambezza with Oz and Sam Barsh with DJ Khalil, which is how “Hurricane” came about. Ambezza and Oz have been working together for years. That same combo did “Life Is Good,” which is about to be [RIAA-certified as] diamond. I love that all these greats are dropping music and I think the music is up to the fans to interpret.
How has The Revels Group positioned itself to be simultaneously involved in projects by Kanye West, Drake and Kendrick Lamar?
Davis: I think it’s timing — because it could go months without any big placements, and then boom. But how you position yourself is: Geffen and I and the rest of the squad are like a four horsemen situation. Geffen is really great at finding talent, and I’m really great at helping connect people. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have a lot of great relationships. With everything, relationships supersedes all, and that’s how we’re positioned.
Geffen: Like Jamil said, producer management and being a producer are a grind. Take someone like Julia Lewis, who we started managing long before he had [produced] a hit, when he finally got that Billboard [Hot 100] hit with “Kacey Talk” by YoungBoy [Never Broke Again] that was on the chart for 16 weeks. It’s the most rewarding thing when we’re able to help make that [breakthrough] moment happen.
What is your longterm goal for building the producer division and what are The Revels Group’s business goals for the remainder of 2021?
Geffen: We think of the producer community as a whole, beyond our roster. One of the biggest issues right now is the lack of administrative and educational resources. We see this every month when a producer without access to a good attorney or manager ends up signing a predatory contract or lopsided deal. A lot of our clients don’t know where to begin as far as collecting the money they’re owed before we work with them. The red tape of the major labels definitely doesn’t help that. Our goal is to make things better for the producer community as a whole, which would help our producers make their lives easier — we’re thinking on a big scale.
For our clients individually, our goal is to help them attain what they haven’t yet in their careers, whether that’s a placement, a partnership they want to do, a press relationship they want to build or a production company they want to start. We’re their business partners in pursuing whatever it is they want to do.
More specifically goals-wise, over 60 percent of our producers have had a Billboard Hot 100 hit in the last year — we want to make that 100 percent. We’re running 60 recording sessions per month out of our compound in Beverly Hills, not including the outside sessions our producers do. We want to expand with more studios and executive produce more projects. G-Eazy, who we also manage, is about to drop his fourth album and six of our clients are on there on the producer/writer side. We want to do more in being a one-stop shop doing whole projects. We want to throw more parties too.
Davis: In addition to everything Geffen said, we want to service our producers. We have fresh energy right now, and we want to hire a few more people to support the whole squad. Talent comes across our desk every day — I want to find the next Geffen, that can help make ways and empower those dreams. We want to find a new studio, expand our business and finish this year strong. That’s what I love to do, the community aspect. We’re trying to build out to the label, venture and publishing sides.
How would you describe The Revels Group and the work that you do?
Davis: I’ll describe us a community who’s hardworking and getting it done. We were going through our brand pillars, we want to empower creatives, inspire feelings and impact the culture.
Geffen: I would say more specifically, artist, producer and creative management. On the producer, management side, the goal is to take a moment and turn it into something better or more simply, empower creatives to be able to make a living out of this. The way I look at it, if we had 50 producers — which we don’t right now — that would be 50 families that we’re responsible for helping feed. It’s not a small task or commitment. A lot of producers and writers can look at managers as taking 20 percent vs. adding 20 percent value to their business. But I think in a lot of cases we add more than that, and the work speaks for itself.
See The Revels Group’s current producer and writer roster:
- Tommy Parker (J. Cole, Ariana Grande, Big Sean, Justin Bieber)
- Maaly Raw (co-management with Trevor Patterson/Spaceboy) (Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Coi Leray, Meek Mill)
- Teddy Walton (co-management with Chris Egerstrom/Rose Creative Agency) (Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi)
- YNG Josh (Nipsey Hussle, YNW Melly, Ariana Grande)
- Ambezza (Drake, Future, Lil Baby, Marshmello, Young Thug, Baby Keem)
- Swish (YG, Roddy Ricch, Post Malone, G-Eazy, Jay Rock)
- JULiA LEWiS (NBA Youngboy, Foushee, Lil Yachty, Tyga, Coi Leray, YG)
- Saint Mino (Roddy Ricch, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Wizkid, Jack Harlow)
- Frankie Bash (Kendrick Lamar, Baby Keem, Future, Juice WRLD, Gunna)
- Nik Dean (Kodak Black, Trey Songz, NAV, Baby Keem)
- Benji Miller (Julia Michaels, ROLE MODEL, MoStack, Rejjie Snow)
- Trev Rich (co-management with Matt McNeal/Moneymakinmgmt) (G-Eazy, Mulatto, EST Gee, Bankrol Hayden, Lil Eazzyy)
- 1st Class (co-management with Trevor Patterson/Spaceboy) (Jack Harlow, DaBaby, French Montana, Stunna 4 Vegas)
- Ben10k (G-Eazy, 24kgoldn, Bankrol Hayden, YSN Flow)
- Dane’s Blood (Slump6s, Rico Nasty, RMR, Leyla Blue)
- Sam Barsh (Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Lil Baby, The Weeknd)
- Bugz Ronin (co-management with Armando Serrano/Flow State Management) (Lil Uzi Vert, YEAT, Dro Kenji)
- Bans (Lil Durk, NBA Youngboy, Rod Wave, Trippie Redd)
- UV Killin Em (Sleepy Hallow, Coi Leray, $uicideboy$)