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Lena Waithe wants to sign artists like H.E.R. and Miguel to her new Def Jam label

Lena Waithe shared her intentions for Hillman Grad Records, her new label with Def Jam.

Lena Waithe Getty

Back in March, Lena Waithe announced that she was pivoting into the music industry to launch her Hillman Grad record label alongside Def Jam. The label, which was a longtime dream of hers, was created with intentions to “develop the next generation of underrepresented artists,” according to a past statement. Now, “The Chi” star is sharing more of her desired plans as a newfound music executive.

“I don’t want to do the typical thing,” she said in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “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.”

As a screenwriter, producer and artist, Waithe said that she finds value in storytelling and intends to bring it back alongside the good feeling often brought on when listening to classics by Brandy, Prince, Erykah Badu and some of the other acts she’s admired over the years. “I think there is this desire to have artists do the same thing again and again,” she said. “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’s goal is to ultimately sign creatives like Miguel, Lil Nas X, Summer Walker, Jazmine Sullivan and H.E.R, but she understands that her success won’t come overnight.

“That’s going to take time, energy and trials. But we’re willing to stumble and fall and get back up again,” she said, adding that she will provide her artists with mental health resources as they navigate the music industry.

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