Lena Waithe Launches Record Label to Develop Underrepresented Artists

Writer, producer and actor Lena Waithe is launching a new record label, Hillman Grad Records. A joint venture partnership with Def Jam Recordings, the label looks to develop a new generation of underrepresented artists.

“Music and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. And I think that’s because musicians are the storytellers we love the most,” Waithe, who won an Emmy in 2017 for a Master of None episode she wrote, 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,” Waithe continued. “[Interim Def Jam Recordings CEO] 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.”

Hillman Grad Records A&R team includes music executives Tebs Maqubela, who was previously at Columbia Records and also worked in artist management, and Albert Cooke, who previously worked at Island Def Jam before an artist relations stint at SoundCloud. They will report to Waithe (CEO) and Rishi Rajani (President of Film & TV) of Hillman Grad Productions.

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