|Birth name||Kedar Massenburg|
|Origin||Flatbush, Brooklyn, United States|
|Occupations||entrepreneur, music producer, manager|
|Years active||1995 – present|
|Labels||Motown Records (1997-2004)
Kedar Entertainment (1995-2012)
Massenburg Media (2012-present)
|Associated acts||D'Angelo, Joe, Profyle, Erykah Badu, A+, and Freestyle Fellowship|
Kedar Massenburg is an American record producer and record label executive, who was the president of Motown Records from 1997 to 2004. Massenburg is the current president and CEO of Kedar Entertainment. Massenburg is best known for bringing Erykah Badu to fame, and for coining the term "neo soul" to describe Badu's sound and that of several like-minded artists.
Kedar was born in 1963 and is the son of a single parent in Flatbush neighborhood, Brooklyn, New York. Massenburg is a 1981 graduate of Erasmus Hall High School. He is also a 1985 graduate of Central State University in Ohio. In college, Massenburg had his eye on the music business. After college, Massenburg spent several years in marketing positions, including two years as a district manager for Pepsico (maker of Pepsi Cola), and more than a year with SmithKline Beecham Clinical Labs Pharmaceuticals. But he still had his eye on the entertainment world. He was saving money for law school, having noticed a relationship between the worlds of popular music and the law. "One of the reasons I wanted to be a lawyer is I realized that everything in this business is controlled by legal documents and contracts," Massenburg recalled during an interview with Black Enterprise Massenburg graduated from University of North Carolina Law School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina having completed a project while he was there on the legal problems involved in developing a home-based business. In 1995, he established Kedar Entertainment, originating out of his New York home, with a $1,700 outlay from his own pocket and consisted of a desk set, fax machine, copier, and portable phone. He became President and CEO. Involved in artist management, he directed the career of the pioneering rap group Stetsasonic for a time.
By 1994, Massenburg was negotiating artist contracts to the tune of more than $1 million a year. His own salary was in six figures, and he had hired two assistants, one of them working out of a satellite office in Los Angeles. Massenburg later expanded his activities into production, music publishing, and publicity. Massenburg was also responsible for signing the young rapper A+, and Freestyle Fellowship as well as Erykah Badu to their first major recording contracts. He was also in involved in the production of Chico Debarge's Long Time No See album which received high acclaim after Debarge's release from prison.
Massenburg started managing the smooth soul crooner D'Angelo. The singer's debut single "Brown Sugar" had done well at radio on Massenburg's East Coast home turf, but had failed to get crucial West Coast airplay. EMI worked with Massenburg and flew dozens of West Coast radio programmers and their dates, into New York for a D'Angelo performance, and for upscale dining and lodging accommodations. Massenburg later said to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Was it worth it to spend the money to fly all those programmers in? Absolutely! We saw a substantial increase in radio airplay immediately after the show."
In 1995, Kedar Entertainment signed one of its first artists Erykah Badu. Massenburg's work on behalf of Badu got him wide notice in the industry. His first move was to pass out 1,000 copies of Badu's debut single, "On & On", at the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards. "And man, when I heard it banging out of somebody's car going down the street that same night, I knew I had something." Badu elucidated the new approach Massenburg was looking for.
Massenburg wanted to start a genre that acknowledged the influence of hip-hop and of other electronics-influenced musical styles, but was a return to earlier forms. Massenburg was quoted in an interview on Kedar Entertainment's web page, "I am committed to signing and grooming the careers of artists who reflect a return to performing, writing, and live instrumentation." Massenburg even coined a new genre name, "neo-classic soul," to describe the music that was taking shape under his influence.
Kedar Beverages LLC
- AOL: Kedar Massenburg
- Answers.com:Kedar Massenburg's Biography
- Black Enterprise, November 1994, p. 128
- Kedar Massenburg, President and CEO, Kedar Entertainment
- Star-Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), January 8, 1996, p. D7
- Atlanta Constitution, May 21, 1997, p. D9
- Black Enterprise, March 1, 2008