Def Jam interim CEO Jeff Harleston and Lena Waithe announced Wednesday (March 10) that Def Jam Recordings and the Emmy-winning writer are launching Hillman Grad Records.
According to a press release, the exclusive joint venture partnership is committed to discovering and developing artists by “leveraging opportunities across music, TV & film” and capitalizing on the intersection of those entertainment realms.
“Music and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. And I think that’s because musicians are the storytellers we love the most,” Waithe said in a statement. “They can take complex emotions and simplify it in four minutes, the same artist can sing about the revolution and falling in love. Music is a part of us. It’s so often connected to our fondest and sometimes our darkest memories. Musicians tell our story. At Hillman Grad Productions we believe in identifying and amplifying new talent, and we want to continue to do that in the music industry. Jeff Harleston and his phenomenal team at Def Jam have given us their trust and their resources to help develop artists that not only have potential, but staying power. We look forward to the journey ahead.”
Tebs Maqubela, an A&R executive from Columbia Records with artist management experience in affiliation with Brockhampton, and Albert Cooke, who previously worked at Island Def Jam as an artist development executive before heading to Soundcloud’s artist relations department, will join Hillman Grad Records. Maqubela will be head of A&R, while Cooke will take on the role of general manager. Both will work to sign and develop talent while reporting directly to the two leaders of the label’s parent company, Hillman Grad Productions — Waithe, the CEO, and Rishi Rajani, president of film & TV.
“Lena Waithe has established herself as one of the most artistically and commercially successful creators and storytellers at work today,” added Harleston. “Lena has a profound understanding of and appreciation for music. After making her mark on television as an actor and writer, then smoothly shifting gears into her role as a film producer and CEO, it follows that she would now spread her wings at the helm of this exciting new record label. Def Jam is the perfect partner for Lena Waithe’s new Hillman Grad venture, and we look forward to bringing her musical vision to life.”
No artists were announced to have been signed to Hillman Grad Records at press time.