In the highly competitive music industry, Atlanta has continued to assert itself as a hub for some of the nation’s hottest talent – and one executive has steadily emerged as the go-to source for recording artists seeking to catapult their careers to the next level.
Meet Brian Richardson, known as “B Rich,” who for the last 15 years has elevated numerous rap artists from obscurity into stardom. Talents such as B.O.B, Kevin Gates, Playboy Tre, Young Dro, Tokyo Jetz and several others have called on B Rich for his guidance, expertise and industry connections. He is the CEO of Defiant Entertainment and has also served as A&R for T.I’s Grand Hustle imprint, where he helped “The King of the South” to finish his Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head album and to sign and develop acts such as Iggy Azalea, Shun Hendrix, Travis Scott, D.O.P.E. and others. One look at his social media profiles will demonstrate why he is the man to call for people who want national and international fame.
However, his journey into the music realm began in a way most would not expect.
“I started off in pharmaceutical sales,” B Rich said. “So it was a big change coming from the corporate world over to the music side. But, I used to do tailgates at the Georgia Dome during the football games and we had one of the livest tailgates with 2 Live Stews. One day people approached me after a tailgate and asked if I wanted to do an open mic. My first night, I worked a club that held like 350 people and we had 450 people show up. That night began my career in the music industry.”
Additionally, B Rich’s mom was close with the mother of a young aspiring rapper now widely known as B.O.B, who was in high school at the time and struggling with his grades. The parents of B.O.B asked B Rich to help their son.
B.O.B became B Rich’s first major success, selling more than 15 million records and receiving six Grammy nominations. Now, B Rich has traveled with his artists to every state except Alaska, as well as cities all over the world. He has partnered with T.I, Eminem, Atlantic Records, had a #1 hit (“Nothing On You” – B.O.B 2010) and landed endorsements deals with the likes of Adidas, Coke, and more.
The one constant in his career has been hard work, keeping a level head and making sure he executes his responsibilities. He has developed an extraordinary ability to connect with people, create opportunities for his artists, and most of all, bring significant value to everyone he works with.
INCLINE had the chance to speak with B Rich more about the story behind his success.
INCLINE: What does it take to be a manager of the caliber of artists you take on?
B RICH: It takes patience and understanding. There are a lot of artists that feel like they have made it and they have egos. So, as humans we have egos sometimes and it takes being able to put your ego to the side and have more of a servant's mentality to truly succeed. Sometimes artists can be really selfish. They might say things that are completely out of line and it can really get under your skin if you let it. They will they say some stuff that blows your mind. So, you have to learn how to be a coach and sort through that in order to figure out how to get to the goal, which is to get them shows, get them popular and get their songs out.
INCLINE: As a manager what does your job entail?
B RICH: Basically, sometimes it is like being a babysitter, trying to convince people to do things that are good on their behalf. Sometimes you may tell an artist to do this, or post this...and they will argue with you "why do I have to post this?" There are times when an artist is with a label and the label asks them to do something, they don't want to because they feel like they don't want to cater to the label. They are complaining that the label is always asking them to do something. It is funny trying to convince them that what you are doing is for them, to help them succeed and they don't see it.
INCLINE: What inspired you to manage artists?
B RICH: My mom and B.O.B's mom were real close and he wasn't doing good in school, so they asked me to help get him on track. It was like being a mentor to him. At his school, they had something like spend a day with a professional. With me being a pharmacy rep, I had a company car and went from city to city, so B.O.B hung out with me. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to rap. So, I told him, if you start getting better grades in school, I have contacts that will let you perform on stage and get your name out there. I started seeing him grow and do good and that's how it came about. I really wasn't trying to be a manager, but I had success at it so other people wanted me to help them out. I was in corporate america, I wanted to be a regional manager for a corporation. But mentoring B.O.B and helping him with success started my career as a manager and it took off from there.
INCLINE: What do you offer to artists under your brand that others may not that causes them to be a success?
B RICH: I have a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of contacts. I have been over all of the world for tours. I have bumped my head enough times to know what to do and what not to do. I have been to the Grammy's, been nominated and won. Still, I know that the way I did things 10 years ago is totally different than what you have to do now, so I am always open to new things. I am always trying to develop young talent.
INCLINE: What are some of the sacrifices you’ve made to get to where you are today?
B RICH: I have sacrificed a lot. I lost homes, sacrificed being in my daughters life at an early age when I was always on the road. That is why, if you follow me on Instagram you see that I am always there with her at her basketball games supporting her, spending more time with her. I used to work much more on the weekends by now I try to make sure that I leave weekends open as much as possible so I can spend that quality time. The moments I missed is one of the biggest regrets I have. You know, losing time with family and loved ones due to being so busy. At the end of the day when you die, you can't take the money with you and you want to be remembered and leave a mark on the world.I am learning how to balance that. Sometimes it is difficult just being in a relationship with people because you are always moving at a fast pace, and when you aren't moving, because you do so much, you just want to relax.
INCLINE: What can we expect to see from your lineage/stable for the remainder of this year?
B RICH: Right now I am re-branding B.O.B, building his brand and getting him back to relevance. He never left, but since we are independent we are going to continue to make that independent money. I've got this kid called Big Havi and we are about to release his song "9 times out of 10". Just bringing on new acts, new writers, and building my team.... developing the No Genre brand.
Follow B Rich on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @brich4