By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
For a five-part series, I will use quotes and coaching tips from the greatest living NBA coach, Phil Jackson and help five rap labels in turmoil fix their situation. His book Eleven Rings and various interviews will be used.
MMG has not had any commercial success outside of Wale, since 2011's impressive run. With an essentially absent 2013(save for Wale's success), Meek Mill and Ross' singles struggling to catch radio and the rest of MMG with no solid release dates in 2014, MMG is flirting with oblivion.
Rick Ross is the only rapper since Beanie Sigel in 2007 to have Jay Z feature on consecutive albums and the only rapper to do so not signed to Jay Z. What has that resulted in? Two songs that never sniffed the Top 15 on the Hot Hip Hop/R&B Chart(Jay Z released two Top 15 songs in that same time span). When Phil Jackson was a Power Forward for the New York Knicks in 1973, he spoke with Charley Rosen for Sport magazine about the politics of imbalanced power:
In a way, professional sports are just like the real world—a lot of people have invested a lot of money and that leads to politicking and pressure situations. Kids come into the league and get big money right off the bat, and the guys getting the bread have to play, even if someone else is better.
Rick Ross needs to do a collaboration album with Wale, restart their proposed sports agency, appear on his next single, absorb his Board Administration imprint into Atlantic Records(which handles all of MMG's distribution) and even give him a few Wing Stops in D.C. Why? Including the MMG head honcho, Wale has been by far the most successful artist on MMG since his Feb 2011 signing. Wale is the ONLY MMG artist since that time with two Top 5 Hot Hip Hop/R&B songs and tied with Ross for the most Gold albums in that same time span (1). Also, the vast majority of this success has been done without the crutch of Ross and MMG's established star power. Besides "Ambition", Ross has not appeared on any the singles from Wale's last two albums.
However, Ross has collaborated and appeared on more singles with Meek Mill than any other artist on MMG. Meek Mill's debut album Dreams & Nightmares was a flop commercially and the only successful single he has had since signing with MMG in Feb 2011(with Wale) without Rick Ross was one that featured Drake ("Amen"). This has led to an imbalance of power in the form of indefensible discrepancies n promotion from MMG among its marquee acts. Phil Jackson's greatest talent was to never succumb to 1. over-reliance on a system and 2. the intoxicating allure of delegating all big shots go to superstars. When Scottie Pippen was pissed Jackson chose Kukoc take the final shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Jackson couldn't care less.
MMG was sued last October by a concert promoter for bailing on a scheduled September 12th, 2012 performance at Wembley Arena in London. The breakdown of the fees were: Rick Ross ($100,000), Meek Mill ($40,000), Wale ($35,000), Omarion ($12,000), Stalley ($5,500). No word on when the negotiations began but by Summer 2012, Wale already had a Gold album and a hit single with Miguel ("Lotus Flower Bomb") yet was being paid less than Meek Mill by a scant $5,000. Meek having more expenses (bigger entourage, stage set up, etc) and different touring contracts could be the cause for the minor financial discrepancy. However, it would be safe to assume that if Ross was pulling in $100,000, Wale, with his success at the time, should have been clearing at least $70,000.
Now that I think of it, simply collaborating with your under-appreciated star as to consolidate popularity and sustain relevancy may be too short sighted a solution for a record label this stuck in perpetual monotony.
RICK ROSS NEEDS TO BLOW UP MMG AND START FRESH WITH JUST HIM AND WALE!
Phil Jackson demanded Kobe Byrant be traded from the Los Angeles Lakers twice. First during the 1999-2000 season (they ended up winning the title that year) and 2003-2004 season (last season of Jackson/Bryant/Shaq). The greatest coach of all time wanted to trade the most accomplished player since Michael Jordan, twice and in both of those seasons Bryant was one of the five best players in the NBA. By what metric is Meek Mill, Stalley, Omarion or any of MMG's artists not named Wale and Rick Ross Top 5? Meek for loudest raps? Stalley for quickest descent from remarkable to average? Gunplay for most incriminating coce rap lyrics?
In order for a label whose success has been predicated on a McDonald's-style quantity-centric music production, it must increase the percentage of success by disavowing the overbearing failures. In other words, MMG needs to improve its "shooting percentage" by "taking better shots"(Wale/Ross album) and passing up others that were good in the past (everyone else). MMG must buy into a philosophy Phil Jackson preached for decades which essentially boils down to "Take one for the team":
The strength of the team is each individual member...the strength of each member is the team.
Didn't Jeezy get appointed to Senior Vice President position at Atlantic Records? If Jeezy and Ross could end a real life beef and agree to swap collaboration songs to get each others album's (and endorsements) buzz off the ground why not extend this symbiotic relationship into a joint venture. They dump off their "internet mixtape superstar/commercial flop" artists onto an "indie label" that on the surface(label name) would be an MMG and CTE merger but in reality (contractual obligations), would have Atlantic Records absorb all the cost(and potential revenue). This has been a trend recently with Universal Music Group dismantling Island Def Jam and making Def Jam its own standalone label less than three years after reports of financial troubles.
Now, shouldn't more rap labels be run by Phil Jackson?