Top Dawg Entertainment

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Top Dawg Entertainment
Founded2004 (2004)
FounderAnthony Tiffith
Distributor(s)Various
Genre
Country of originUnited States
LocationCarson, California
Official websitetxdxe.com

Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) is an American independent record label founded in 2004, by CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. Dave Free and Punch are both presidents of the TDE. There are currently ten artists signed to the label: The label's flagship artists, Black Hippy members Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q, as well as Isaiah Rashad, SZA, Lance Skiiiwalker, SiR, Reason and Zacari. The label also houses a production division that includes Digi+Phonics, THC, King Blue and Derek Ali AKA "MixedByAli".

History[edit]

1997–2012[edit]

In 1997, Anthony Tiffith began as a record producer, who had produced for rappers such as The Game and Juvenile, among others. In 2003, Tiffith found a then 15-year-old Kendrick Lamar, a Compton native, who at the time went by K-Dot and had just released his first mixtape, which gained recognition and earned the young rapper some local buzz in his area. Tiffith saw potential in Lamar, signing him onto the label from the strength of the rapper's debut mixtape.[1] It wasn't until 2005 that TDE started to gain success with another California-based rapper, Jay Rock. Following Rock's signing, TDE signed joint venture deals with Warner Bros. and later Asylum Records. However, following the merger, TDE began planning an exit strategy after the labels failed to handle Rock's debut Follow Me Home properly.[2]

In 2007, Carson-based rapper Ab-Soul was added to the Top Dawg roster.[3] On May 10, 2008 the label released a compilation mixtape titled Do It Nigga Squad, Volume 1, which features songs by members of the label's roster, with other appearances coming from fellow American rappers Schoolboy Q, Lil Wayne and will.i.am.[4] All songs on the mixtape were mixed by Top Dawg's resident engineer Derek "MixedByAli" Ali, much like a majority of their releases are.[4]

In 2009, Los Angeles-based rapper Schoolboy Q signed with TDE after being affiliated with the label since 2006. In 2009, once they were all signed to the label, Schoolboy Q suggested that he, Lamar, Rock and Ab-Soul form a rap group. They all agreed and all four artists formed the hip hop group Black Hippy.[5][6]

In March 2012, MTV reported that TDE closed a joint venture deal with Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment. Under the new deal, Kendrick Lamar's second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City would be jointly released via Top Dawg, Interscope and Aftermath.[7] In August 2012, during "TDEFamAppreciationWeek", they released solo tracks from each of the Black Hippy members and a video of Lamar and Q acting out on the tour bus.[8]

2013–2014[edit]

In June 2013, Top Dawg announced they were planning to sign two more artists, with the first being reported as Tennessee native, Isaiah Rashad.[9][10] On July 14, it was revealed Top Dawg had signed an up-and-coming female singer named SZA to the label.[11] In August 2013, during an interview with Vibe, CEO Anthony Tiffith spoke on comparisons to Death Row Records, another label based in Southern California, run by Comptonite Marion "Suge" Knight, that had released albums from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur and others during the 1990s.[12] Tiffith also said that he learned several lessons from his first major-label contract; a deal with Warner Bros. Records for Jay Rock, that lasted from 2006 until 2010.[12] Tennessee-based rapper Isaiah Rashad's signing to TDE was officially announced on September 20, 2013.[13]

In October 2013, at the BET Hip Hop Awards, Kendrick Lamar won five awards, including Album of the Year and Lyricist of the Year, the latter of which he also won the year before.[14] At the award ceremony, Schoolboy Q performed his debut album's lead single "Collard Greens", with Lamar following him, performing "Money Trees", alongside Jay Rock.[15] Lamar, Rock and Schoolboy Q were also featured in a cypher, along with Ab-Soul and newcomer Isaiah Rashad, which was presented by BET.[16] In an October 2013 interview with XXL, co-president Terrence "Punch" Henderson confirmed that the original reports of the record label being distributed by Interscope Records were incorrect. He said only Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar ever had solo record deals with Interscope Records, while the label was currently looking for a distribution deal for the entire label.[17]

After not releasing an album the entire year, on December 21, 2013, CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith revealed that he plans on the entire label's roster releasing solo albums in 2014.[18]

2015–present[edit]

On February 29, 2016, Top Dawg hinted at two new label signees, as well as scheduled releases for each of the label's artists' for 2016.[19] On May 20, Top Dawg officially announced the signing of Lance Skiiiwalker.On July 1, 2016, TDE CEO Anthony Tiffith announced the label will be touring as a group after the four artists album releases in 2016.[20] The TDE tour featured Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, SZA, Lance Skiiiwalker and co-president/occasional rapper Punch.[20] On January 19, 2017, TDE officially announced the signing of Inglewood, California singer SiR.[21] On April 28, 2017, SZA announced she signed her first major-label recording contract with RCA Records.[22][23]

On February 9, 2018, the label released Black Panther: The Album, the soundtrack for the Marvel Studios superhero film Black Panther (2018), executively produced by Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith and Kendrick Lamar.[24] In 2018, TDE announced The Championship Tour featuring artists from the label, from May to June.[25] On August 8, the label announced the signing of Carson, California rapper Reason.[26] Later in the year, the company formed a sports agency division, signing former LSU running back Derrius Guice as the first athlete.[27] On January 25, 2019, TDE officially revealed that Zacari is signed to the label.[28]

In May 2018, it was announced that Kendrick Lamar was planning a departure from Spotify.[29] The announcement came after he heard the streaming platform intended to ban fellow rapper XXXTentacion from their editorial and algorithmic playlists for his acts of violence against women.[29] Lamar had been a fan of XXXTentacion's music. He tweeted a link to his debut album 17 accompanied by praise for the controversial rapper's "raw thoughts."[30] The removal of XXXTentacion as well as R. Kelly arrived in accordance to Spotify's new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy.[31] Conceived in light of the #MeToo movement, the hateful conduct policy sought to promote "openness, diversity, tolerance and respect" by removing content that promotes, advocates, or incites hatred and violence against an individual or group based on characteristics.[32][33] The policy was especially poorly received by recording artists and executives working in hip-hop, the best-selling genre in the U.S. music industry, and the abrupt manner Spotify instituted it generated complaints. Terrence Punch, president of Top Dawg Entertainment responded on Twitter by remarking, "Whoa. Are they censoring the music? That’s dangerous."[32] According to The Guardian, a representative for Lamar personally contacted Daniel Ek to air his frustrations with the policy, claiming it was censorship.[29][34] Bloomberg reported that the representative reached out to Spotify Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek and head of artist relations Troy Carter, threatening to pull his music if the company kept the policy as it stood. Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment, confirmed he threatened to remove music from the service in an interview with Billboard.[35][36] Tiffith stated, "I reached out to Troy over there, we had a conversation and I expressed how I felt about it, about censorship, how you can’t do artists that way. I don’t think it’s right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture.[35] In response to the criticism, Spotify reversed their policy and reinstated XXXTentacion’s music back onto playlists after other artists followed suit in threatening to pull their musical works.[34]

Other ventures[edit]

In 2014, TDE started the inaugural Christmas concert and toy drive in Watts, California, including performances by TDE's roster of artists as well as donations to families in need.[37] The fundraising event has been an annual concert for the holidays, and had guest appearances from Rihanna, E-40, and Chris Brown.[38][39]

Roster[edit]

Current artists[edit]

Act Year
signed
Releases
under the label
Jay Rock 2004 12
Kendrick Lamar 2005 11
Ab-Soul 2007 6
Schoolboy Q 2009 7
Black Hippy 2009
SZA 2013 2
Isaiah Rashad 2013 2
Lance Skiiiwalker 2016 1
SiR 2017 3
Reason 2018 1
Zacari 2019 1

In-house producers[edit]

Top Dawg Entertainment houses a production team named Digi+Phonics, composed of music producers Dave Free, Willie B, Tae Beast and Sounwave. They have composed the majority of the production on many of the TDE releases.[40]

King Blue, also known as Blue The Misfit, was once half of the musical duo Sore Losers and is also signed to Top Dawg as a producer, producing songs such as Kendrick Lamar's "P&P", Schoolboy Q's "To tha Beat (F’d Up)", Mac Miller's "Down Them".

Production team THC, a duo of producers, have produced several songs by members of Black Hippy, including Kendrick Lamar's "Cartoon & Cereal" and "m.A.A.d City", as well as Schoolboy Q's "Collard Greens", among several other tracks.[41][42][43]

Discography[edit]

The discography of Top Dawg Entertainment consists of 21 studio albums, two compilation album, six extended plays (EPs) and 17 mixtapes. Overall the label has sold more than ten million records in the US alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Graham, Nadine. (2011-01-06) Kendrick Lamar: The West Coast Got Somethin' To Say | Rappers Talk Hip Hop Beef & Old School Hip Hop. HipHop DX. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  2. ^ Rello says:. "Top Dawg Entertainment Making It's Mark……..TDE". Hiphopmoneymagazine.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ Ahmed, Insanu (July 10, 2012). "Who Is Ab-Soul? – Joining TDE". Complex. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Top Dawg Ent. – Do It Nigga Squad // Free Mixtape". DatPiff. Idle Media Inc. May 8, 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  5. ^ Ahmed, Insanu (February 3, 2012). "Who Is Schoolboy Q? - Joining Top Dawg Entertainment". Complex. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  6. ^ Ahmed, Insanu (February 3, 2012). "Who Is Schoolboy Q? - His group, Black Hippy". Complex. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  7. ^ Alexis, Nadeska (March 8, 2012). "Kendrick Lamar, Black Hippy Ink Deals With Interscope And Aftermath". MTV. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  8. ^ #TDEFamAppreciationWeek (August 19, 2012). "#TDEFamAppreciationWeek". 2DOPEBOYZ. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  9. ^ Paine, Jake (June 3, 2013). "TDE Reportedly Signs Chattanooga, Tennessee Rapper Isaiah Rashad | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Confirms There's a New Artist Joining TDE". Complex. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Presenting TDE's New Songstress. Listen To SZA's New Song, "Teen Spirit"". TheSource. August 14, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
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  14. ^ "2013 BET Hip Hop Awards: The Complete Winners List". MTV. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
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  21. ^ "TDE Announces SiR As Latest Signing". The Fader.
  22. ^ http://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX -. "SZA Signs To RCA Records".
  23. ^ "SZA Announces Deal With RCA".
  24. ^ Tiffany, Kaitlyn (January 4, 2018). "Kendrick Lamar produced the soundtrack for Black Panther". The Verge. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  25. ^ "Watch Kendrick, SZA, More Play Sports and Train for TDE Championship Tour". Pitchfork.
  26. ^ "CALIFORNIA RAPPER REASON SIGNS TO TOP DAWG ENTERTAINMENT". XXL.
  27. ^ Rovell, Darren. "Derrius Guice signs with agency that reps Kendrick Lamar". ESPN. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  28. ^ "TDE Officially Adds Zacari To Its Loaded Roster". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  29. ^ a b c Ch, Devin (May 25, 2018). "Kendrick Lamar Apparently Threatened To Pull Music From Spotify Following Censorship". HotNewHipHop. Urbanlinx Media. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  30. ^ Fitzgerald, Kiana (May 30, 2018). "Why Kendrick Lamar's Attempt to Stop Spotify's Hateful Conduct Policy Is So Dangerous". Complex. Rich Antoniello. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  31. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (May 10, 2018). "Spotify Pulls R. Kelly and XXXTentacion From Playlists, Stirring a Debate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Shaw, Lucas (May 24, 2018). "Spotify Plans to Change XXXTentacion Policy After Outcry". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  33. ^ Music – FAQ – Spotify for Artists
  34. ^ a b Snapes, Laura (May 25, 2018). "Spotify to review its 'hateful conduct' policy following industry criticism". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  35. ^ a b Strauss, Matthew (June 1, 2018). "Kendrick Label Head Confirms He Threatened to Pull Music From Spotify". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  36. ^ Rys, Dan (June 1, 2018). "Top Dawg Explains How He Warned Spotify's CEO That Kendrick Lamar, Others Would Pull Music Over Conduct Policy". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  37. ^ "TDE Gears Up for Its Third Annual Holiday Concert and Toy Giveaway". Complex. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  38. ^ Brown, August. "Top Dawg Entertainment's Christmas party in Watts was equally reflective and celebratory". LATimes. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  39. ^ "Here's When the 5th Annual TDE Concert Toy Drive Is Going Down". Complex. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  40. ^ "25 New Producers To Watch Out For". Complex. November 12, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  41. ^ khari (July 9, 2013). "ScHoolboy Q Reveals Raekwon Collab, J. Cole Production For 'Oxymoron'". Retrieved July 1, 2016.
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  43. ^ "Antydote". Retrieved July 1, 2016.
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External links[edit]