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The REVOLT Summit x AT&T took over Atlanta earlier this month, and it bringing together all the moguls and moguls-to-be in the entertainment industry. Of course, taking place in the A, one of the most highly anticipated panels was “Quality Control: The Blueprint Behind Hip Hop’s Most Influential Imprint.”
Shortly after a heartwarming intro from REVOLT Media & TV Chairman, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Atlanta’s own 2 Chainz appeared on the stage to introduce Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas, the two co-founders of QC who were also co-chairs of the REVOLT Summit.
Off the rip, Tity Boi asks how the two business moguls met. Coach K brought us back to when he and P first connected eight or nine years ago. He stated, “At the time, I was managing Gucci Mane. P and Gucci are like brothers, damn near best friends. Shit man, we used to be on the road a lot moving around, and Gucci [doesn’t] really like a lot of people around him. When I [saw that] P started coming on the road, hanging with us and shit, [him and I] got real cool. He was standoff-ish. He never really talked to me.”
It wasn’t until Los Angeles when they got to chatting. One day, P reached out to Coach K, saying, “Yo, I just built this damn studio, but I ‘ain’t got no artists to come to it. Can you help me out?” It was a wrap after that. The crazy part is, P was over the music industry. But, Coach had a different plan: “You know what, I think I can sign the Migos.”
2 Chainz jokes, “That’s not a bad draft pick right there.” Coach K explains, “What people ‘don’t understand [is that] we turned that studio into a real trap... music. The day we signed the Migos, they moved into the studio... [They] went home, packed all their stuff, and moved into the studio. We turned that thing into a factory.”
Fast forward to 2019, and Quality Control is one of the most successful hip hop labels to date. It’s home to even more superstars such as Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, and Cardi B is under its management sector. The name Quality Control comes as “the last part.” If you’re building a car, before it goes into production or goes out on the street where a consumer can buy it, the quality control department must go through it. QC stands for being the best and making sure everything is complete before it hits the public.
For Coach K, it was his management experience that taught him the most. He says, “[As] a manager for an artist, you have to go out there and create work for [them]. For any young manager out here, you have to believe and have passion in you so strong that really, your life [doesn’t] even exist [anymore].”
He continues, “You have to put all your energy and everything you do into that artist to get them to pop.” Reminiscing on his formative years passing out fliers, putting up posters, and doing shows on dirt roads, his current-day success arrives as a result of 22 years of hard work.
2 Chainz then asked P how he decides who makes the QC roster. P answers, “I don’t look at the music they’re making, I look at the hunger. Are they hungry? Are they out here grinding?” For P to get behind something, he puts 200% in it — and expects the artist to put in 300%. In a world where millions of artists are making good music, ‘It’s about the sacrifices you’re willing to take to push your art to the limelight.”
Beyond the artists, QC currently boasts producers OG Parker (Chris Brown, Migos), Quay Global (who came as a package deal with Lil Baby); and Twysted Genius, the latter works with a lot of their up-and coming-artists. Developing artists is QC’s primary focus.
Coach K states, “We [are] not out here chasing stats and data, we [are] developing talent. What’s missing out here in this music business is artist development. [There’s] a lot of stat chasing. To all you artists out [there], just because you [are] poppin’ on Instagram and you [are] getting a lot of likes, comments, all that shit, you still got a lot of work to do.”
Their secret formula is finding an artist in the beginning stages, and turning them into a brand. On the flip side, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. Coach K and P have had their fair share of obstacles, which includes the independent grind during the mixtape era — putting their own money into their artists and trying to convince major labels of their worth. Covering everything from the videos to the radios to the promotion, they lay it out on the line through many trials and errors before reaching their current home at Capitol Records.
What sets QC a part from other labels is the fact that they’re a real family. When the Lil Boat rapper walked onstage and hopped on the couch right between Coach K and P, the crowd exploded with applause. 2 Chainz proceeded to ask Yachty about his rise in the game, which included the atmosphere at QC.
Yachty stated, “It’s like a family if I could put it in to any words. I remember when I first started [making] music — Coach was managing me — I was 17 or 18. We were looking at labels, looking at Def Jam, Interscope, Atlantic, everywhere. But, it just didn’t feel like they gave a fuck.”
Coach K then interrupted, “Let me stop you for a second, that was all a play. We managed him first. We took him around and let him meet with every label, so he could see. We always knew he was coming home. Yachty proceeded to reveal how artists hit him all the time about how their labels won’t let them release music — a problem he never experienced.
Yachty’s advice: “You gotta put so much trust and belief in yourself. You [have to] understand [that] it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t be so eager to obtain riches without working for it. The quicker, the easier it is to obtain something, usually, [the] quicker it comes, [the faster] it will fade. You gotta trust the process.”
At the end of the day, it’s the relationship between the artist and their managers that make all the difference. Yachty recalled his first pair of Balmain jeans P took him to purchase, which was a sentimental memory that holds him over till this day.
Yachty also gives some words of wisdom to all aspiring artists in the room. “It’s so important for an independent artist — or unsigned — to be creative. You may not necessarily have the backing or funds. So, at this point, you have to figure out a way to grab people’s attention. It doesn’t take [a lot of] money. It just takes creativity and stepping outside of the box.”
Coach K then shook up the crowd by revealing the expense behind getting a song on the radio: $200,000. But, it’s their belief in each other and the teamwork that drives the machine behind each one of their artists. He adds, “Everybody sees the flowers. [But]... there is a struggle. You got to be willing to put everything that you got in your soul into something you believe to see that shit through.”
P adds, “Don’t chase the money. Don’t always look for the money. All of us came from nothing. Majority of us come from poverty. Put the money into your creativity, into whatever you’re trying to work on. If you make that work, you’re going to get so much money in the backend anyways. Invest in yourself!”