SXSW: Word is launching a hip-hop label
Christian music giant Word Entertainment plans to launch a hip-hop imprint in the near future, Word A&R Joseph Prielozny told Rapzilla at SXSW 2016.
Prielozny, a Grammy Award-winning producer who had worked for Reach Records since 2008, joined Word last year with no official announcement. But Word SVP of A&R Josh Bailey and A&R Spencer Nohe had told Rapzilla that they were interested in signing rappers, so one could assume Word’s interest in Prielozny was hip-hop related, given his role at Reach while Lecrae’s record sales as an independent artist exceeded many acts signed to major labels.
“People are getting involved because they’re seeing the success of Reach, and so there’s money to be made,” Prielozny said about major labels’ interest in Christian hip hop in general. “It’s good for everyone because Reach isn’t signing everyone.”
Enter Word, which was formerly owned by Warner Music Group but sold in March to Curb Records, which claims 433 number one records. Word’s roster includes Grammy Award-winning artists for KING & COUNTRY, Francesca Battistelli and Switchfoot, as well as Big Daddy Weave, NEEDTOBREATHE and Family Force 5, among others.
Word can offer artists resources that the vast majority of independent Christian hip-hop labels cannot. And while Word is inexperienced releasing hip-hop projects, Prielozny has seen plenty of success in that regard.
He’s convinced Word’s desire to become involved in Christian hip hop is genuine — not just a reaction to Reach’s success in the market.
“They’re not in it for the money,” he said. “They’re very kingdom-mindset. I just remember our first couple talks on the phone just being really refreshed because it really is about Jesus over there at Word.”
In terms of what type of hip hop Word will release, Prielozny said each artist on his imprint will not necessarily target the same market — like everyone making music for the church, or everyone making music for the world from a Christian perspective.
“I’m trying to keep it as open as possible … I’m not trying to create Reach Records, Pt. 2 or create some clique over here,” Prielozny said. “I’m trying to start a record label where we can sign some dope artists and just partner with the right people.”
The right people, Prielozny explained, he selects based on their motivation to make music more than anything.
“I’ve seen bad acts turn into great acts,” he said, “so for me, ‘Why are they doing what they’re doing?’ is the most important thing that I’m looking for.”
Watch Prielozny’s three-part interview below.