Empire Distribution

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Empire Distribution logo.svg
FoundedGhazi Shami
Country of originUnited States
LocationSan Francisco, California, U.S.
Official websiteempi.re

EMPIRE Distribution, Records and Publishing Inc. (marketed as EMPIRE) is an American distribution company and record label founded in 2010 by Ghazi Shami [1] and headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices in New York City, London, and Atlanta. It has released albums in various genres but it is predominantly focused on hip hop music. Companies and artists such as Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, SZA), Steel Wool (Anderson Paak, Watsky, Jez Dior), Jazz Anderson, Cody Wolfe, Kane Brown, Funk Volume, WHITE EAGLE,(Dizzy Wright, Jarren Benton), ESGN (Freddie Gibbs), Think It's A Game Entertainment (Rich Homie Quan, YFN Lucci), Paper Route Empire (Young Dolph), Trill Entertainment (Boosie Badazz, Webbie), Last Kings Records (Tyga), Taylor Gang Entertainment (Berner, Chevy Woods), Hustle Gang (T.I., B.o.B, Trae tha Truth), No Limit Forever Records (Master P, Choppa, Romeo Miller, G5-J, Cymphonique, Silkk the Shocker), Nature Sounds (J Dilla, Devin the Dude, Pete Rock), Jamla Records (9th Wonder, Rapsody), Bad Vibes Forever (XXXTentacion), and Mastered Trax (C-Kan), Rich Broke Entertainment (Lil Duval) have partnerships with EMPIRE, with music being distributed across platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, Deezer, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Rdio, along with physical CDs and vinyl being distributed to traditional record stores.

EMPIRE has supported the debut albums and early singles of a number of early artists, frequently signing young talent. In the Atlanta scene, they were the first label to release Trinidad James, Rich Homie Quan, Migos, Rocko, and K Camp. In Los Angeles, they have distributed and/or are still distributing artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Problem, Skeme, and Crooked I. They've also been involved in New York with releases from Troy Ave, Styles P, Cam'ron, and Busta Rhymes. On the R&B side, they have signed artists such as Eric Bellinger, Jacquees, Jesse Boykins III, Jonn Hart, and Lyrica Anderson. EMPIRE has also had several chart topping reggae albums including reggae artist J Boog's album Backyard Boogie.[2]

A number of albums and singles distributed by EMPIRE have charted on Billboard, including "Taste" by Tyga featuring Offset, "Look at Me" by XXXTentacion, "All the Way Up" by Fat Joe and Remy Ma, "Broccoli" by DRAM, "Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)" by Rich Homie Quan, "Might Be" and "OTW" by DJ Luke Nasty, Malibu by Anderson Paak, Section.80 by Kendrick Lamar, "Gas Pedal" by Sage the Gemini, Phantom and the Ghost by Styles P, "#IWantDat" by Mindless Behavior, Knock Madness by Hopsin, and Stoner's EP by Snoop Dogg.[3]



EMPIRE was founded in 2010 by CEO, Ghazi Shami,[1] a music technology graduate of San Francisco State University and the former Director of Urban Music at INgrooves.[4] In operating the company, Shami was joined by Nima Etminan, an MBA graduate in Media Management from Hamburg Media School. Etminan, co-founder of the hip hop platform DubCNN.com,[5] worked to expand the mission and services, and as of 2011 was handling Marketing and A&R. Etminan now serves as Vice President of Operations and A&R.


One of the label's first charting releases was Authenticity by hip hop duo The Foreign Exchange, released on October 12, 2010. It peaked at #145 on the US Billboard 200, and #23 on the US R&B chart. Rapper ScHoolboy Q's album Setbacks, released on January 11, 2011, also charted, reaching #100 on the Billboard 200. Longterm Mentality by Ab-Soul, released the following April, peaked at #32 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers. In November 2013, Hopsin's Knock Madness album peaked at #76 on the Billboard 200[6] and at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.[7]

Nima Etminan soon signed California hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar to the distribution company, and as of early 2012 Empire began handling distribution for all the projects by Top Dawg Entertainment, including Lamar's Section.80.[5] Released on July 2, 2011, the album reached #113 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums.

2012 saw releases by artists such as Slum Village, Trinidad James, Snoop Dogg, and Freddie Gibbs, several of which charted. In 2012 the label helped organize a 2013 tour between Trae tha Truth and J. Stalin.[8] Also in 2013, Empire distributed the album Still Goin In (Reloaded) by Rich Homie Quan, which was named tenth best mixtape of 2013 by Rolling Stone.[9] Recent albums include Phantom and the Ghost by Styles P, released on April 29, 2014. It charted at #74 on US Billboard 200, and #14 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

In 2013, Empire established its recording division, with Fairfield, CA native Sage The Gemini being the first signee.[10] Sage's two debut singles "Gas Pedal" and "Red Nose" became nationwide hits, earning him and the label a platinum plaque for "Gas Pedal" and a gold plaque for "Red Nose". Sage's debut album Remember Me was released in March 2014 under Empire Recordings/Republic Records. Other artists on Empire Recordings include Rayven Justice, Jonn Hart, D Lo, Emilio Rojas, Baeza, Dmac, M.I.C.Show Banga, Zariya, Smoovie Baby, and Priceless Da Roc. At 2014's SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, Empire hosted their first official showcase, featuring performances by Slim Thug, Eric Bellinger, Problem, Dorrough Music, Emilio Rojas and the Empire Recordings roster.[11]

In 2015 and 2016 Empire saw tremendous success at radio with Rich Homie Quan’s “Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooh)” charting at #1 on Urban Mainstream Radio, DJ Luke Nasty’s single “Might Be” charting at #5 on Urban Mainstream Radio, Fat Joe & Remy Ma’s hip hop anthem, "All the Way Up" charting at #5 on both Rhythmic and Urban radio charts and Colonel Loud’s “California” charting at #8 on Urban Mainstream radio.

In 2018, it was announced that record producer and label executive L.A. Reid founded a new label Hitco Entertainment, which will be distributed by Empire .[12][13] In the same year, Australian and rapper Iggy Azalea announced her own record label originally titled New Classic Records and later renamed to Bad Dreams with its distribution being handled by Empire.[14][15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2015 "Out of Many, One Music" (Shaggy) Best Reggae Album Nominated
2016 "Strictly Roots" (Morgan Heritage) Best Reggae Album Won
2017 "Malibu" (Anderson .Paak) Best New Artist Nominated
"Malibu" (Anderson .Paak) Best Urban Contemporary Album Nominated
"All The Way Up" (Fat Joe & Remy Ma) Best Rap Performance Nominated
"All The Way Up" (Fat Joe & Remy Ma) Best Rap Song Nominated
"Broccoli" (DRAM) Best Rap/Sung Performance Nominated
"Rose Petals EP" (J Boog) Best Reggae Album Nominated


Notable artists who have released music on EMPIRE:[16]

Selected discography[edit]


Incomplete list of album releases for EMPIRE Distribution
Year Cat Title Artist(s) Details Certifications
2010 ERE Authenticity The Foreign Exchange Oct 12, 2010 #145 on the Billboard 200
#23 US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
2011 ERE Setbacks ScHoolboy Q Jan 11, 2011 #100 on the US Billboard 200
ERE Longterm Mentality Ab-Soul April 5, 2011 #32 on the US Top Heatseekers
#73 on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
ERE Section.80 Kendrick Lamar July 2, 2011 #113 on the US Billboard 200
#1 on the US Top Heatseekers Albums
ERE Charity Starts At Home Phonte Sep 27, 2011
ERE Element of Surprise P.Watts Oct 25, 2011
ERE In None We Trust Crooked I Nov 17, 2011
ERE Gift Of Gab 2 Rocko Nov 24, 2011
2012 ERE Dirty Slums Slum Village Mar 27, 2012
ERE Stoner's EP Snoop Dogg April 17, 2012 #31 on the US Independent Albums
#33 on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
ERE Don't Be S.A.F.E. Trinidad James Sep 18, 2012 #103 on the US Billboard 200
#8 on the US Top Heatseekers Albums
ERE Baby Face Killa Freddie Gibbs Sep 25, 2012
2013 ERE Still Goin In (Reloaded) Rich Homie Quan Feb 8, 2013 Named tenth best mixtape of 2013 by Rolling Stone.[9]
ERE The Year of the Underdogz Young Noble & Gage Gully May 7, 2013
ERE West Coast Gangsta Shit Daz Dillinger and WC June 19, 2013
ERE ESGN (Evil Seeds Grow Naturally) Freddie Gibbs June 20, 2013 #8 on US Top Heatseekers Albums[17]
#24 on US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
ERE Cold Turkey Starlito July 2, 2013
ERE108 Apex Predator Crooked I July 30, 2013 #33 on US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[18]
ERE110 3ChordFold Terrace Martin Aug 13, 2013 #43 on US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
#9 on US Top Heatseekers Albums
ERE Travis Garland Travis Garland Sep 10, 2013
ERE Gas Pedal EP Sage The Gemini Sep 10, 2013
ERE O.K.E. (Deluxe Edition) The Game Oct 8, 2013 #89 on the US Billboard 200
#19 on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
ERE Knock Madness Hopsin Nov 24, 2013 #1 on US Top Heatseekers Albums[19]
#7 on US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
#6 on US Independent Albums
2014 ERE135 Tortoise and the Crow CD Grouch, Eligh Mar 04, 2014
ERE136 Keep It On the D-Lo D-Lo Apr 01, 2014
ERE139 Phantom and the Ghost Styles P Apr 29, 2014 #74 on US Billboard 200
#14 on US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
#18 on US Independent Albums
ERE Barrel Brothers Skyzoo and Torae May 27, 2014
ERE141 Venice Anderson .Paak Oct 28, 2014
2015 ERE Strictly Roots Morgan Heritage June 8, 2015 Grammy Award Winning : Best Reggae Album
ERE141 Fuk Wat They Talkin Bout Tyga Aug 24, 2015
ERE141 Shadow of a Doubt Freddie Gibbs Nov 20, 2015
2016 ERE141 Malibu Anderson .Paak Jan 15, 2016
ERE141 King of Memphis Young Dolph Feb 19, 2016 #49 on US Billboard 200
ERE256 Rosecrans DJ Quik & Problem 2016
2017 ERE Acoustic Levitation Devin The Dude Mar 10, 2017
ERE For Your Girl Too SELFISH. May 23, 2017
ERE 17 XXXTentacion Aug 25, 2017 #2 on US Billboard 200
2018 ? XXXTentacion Mar 5, 2018 #1 on US Billboard 200
ERE453 Tru LP Lloyd Aug 31, 2018
ERE Dancing Shadows Mario Oct 5, 2018
Skins XXXTentacion Dec 7, 2018 #1 on US Billboard 200


Notable singles released by EMPIRE

  • 2011
    • Kendrick Lamar – "ADHD"
  • 2012
  • 2013
    • Alexis y Fido" – "Rompe La Cintura"
    • Problem – "Like Whaaat"
    • Rocko – "U.O.E.N.O."
    • Sage The Gemini – "Red Nose"
    • T.I. – "Memories Back Then"
  • 2014
    • Busta Rhymes – "Calm Down" ft. Eminem
    • Rayven Justice – "Hit or Nah"
    • Rich Homie Quan – "Walk Thru"
    • Sage The Gemini – "Gas Pedal"
    • Troy Ave – "About The Money"
  • 2015
    • Alexis y Fido – "Una en un Millon"
    • Colonel Loud – "California" ft. T.I., Young Dolph & Ricco Barrino
    • D.R.A.M. – "Cha Cha"
    • Jermaine Dupri – "WYA" ft. Bow Wow
    • Kane Brown – "Used To Love You Sober"
    • Nef The Pharaoh – "Big Tymin’"
    • P Diddy – "Finna Get Loose" ft. Pharrell
    • Popcaan – "Never Sober"
    • Rich Homie Quan – "Flex" (Ooh Ooh Ooh)
    • Rich Homie Quan – "The Most"
    • Tyga – "Stimulated"
  • 2016
    • D.R.A.M. – "Broccolli" ft. Lil Yachty
    • Fat Joe & Remy Ma – "All The Way Up" ft. French Montana & Jay-Z (Remix)
    • Lloyd – "Tru"
    • Luke Nasty – "Might Be"
    • Luke Nasty – "OTW"
    • Mario - "I Need More"
    • Mario – "Let Me Help You"
    • Wizkid – "Shabba" ft. Chris Brown, Trey Songz & French Montana
    • Young Dolph – "Get Paid"
  • 2017
    • Sammie – "Coa"
    • Lamont Sincere – "Where It Came From"
    • Eric Bellinger – "Be The Change"
    • Mario – "Pain is the New Pleasure"
    • Trinidad James – "Father FiGGA"
    • Lamont Sincere – "Broken"
    • Xai Beats – "Can't Relate" ft. Ellah & Young Gully
    • J-HAZE - "The Body Guard"
  • 2018
  • 2019

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "EMPIRE: The Music Industry's Quiet Giant". HipHopDX.
  2. ^ "J Boog – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  3. ^ "Top Artists". Empire Distribution. Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  4. ^ "Ghazi Shami". Linkedin. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  5. ^ a b "Nima Etminan: The Man Behind DubCNN". 2DBZ. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  6. ^ "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  7. ^ "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  8. ^ Caples, Garret (December 11, 2012). "YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Waiting for Four-O". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  9. ^ a b "10 Best Mixtapes of 2013: Rich Homie Quan, 'Still Goin' In Reloaded'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  10. ^ "Bay Area's Sage The Gemini Signs Deal with EMPIRE/Republic Records". DubCNN.com. 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  11. ^ "EMPIRE Presents: YNGCA x YNGTX – The Tap Room – Austin, TX on 3/14/2014 – 25 photos, pictures and videos on CrowdAlbum". crowdalbum.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  12. ^ Karp, Hannah. "L.A. Reid's Hitco Ramps Up With 25 Hires and Handful Of New Acts". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  13. ^ Halperin, Shirley (2018-03-22). "L.A. Reid's First Post-Sony Signing Is a Member of Outkast (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  14. ^ "Iggy Azalea has announced that her new label is named 'Bad Dreams'". Twipu. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Iggy Azalea Signs New Partnership Deal With EMPIRE". hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 6 June 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  16. ^ "New Artists". Empire Distribution. Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  17. ^ "Heatseekers Albums : Jul 06, 2013 | Billboard Chart Archive". Billboard. 2013-07-06. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  18. ^ "Crooked I – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  19. ^ "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-01-26.

External links[edit]