For the past few months, I have waited anxiously for the “new” Epic Records to unveil projects from its fresh line-up of R&B singers. Much of this excitement was fueled by Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s attachment to the label, as well as his meticulous selection of executives to assist him with its rollout. Adding an additional layer of excitement, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart was designated as the president of A&R; his brother, Mark Stewart, was named EVP of A&R operations. On April 10, 2012, the label released one of its first major projects: a soundtrack to the comedy film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man. For this particular release, “Tricky” served as executive producer.
Considering the massive success of the original New York Times bestselling non-fiction text, the pressure was on to match the literary predecessors accomplishments visually – and sonically, with original music for its motion picture soundtrack. In both respects, the mission was soundly accomplished – and the Think Like a Man soundtrack is worthy of residence in the penthouse suite of Billboard’s top albums chart.
To be expected, the compilation includes songs from a few veteran acts:
Inclusions of this sort are to be expected. However, the real gems – and the album’s best-kept secrets – belong to a group of young, aspiring talents. My favorites include: Marcus Canty (“Won’t Make A Fool Out of You”), Quadron (“Baby Be Mine”), RaVaughn (“Same Old Bullshit”), and Brandon Hines (“Fire”). Each performance is executed with perfection. Songwriting credits are attributed to Canty and Hines on their respective tracks, too.
Such amazing talent will be the key to Epic Records “takeover” – and “makeover” – of the contemporary R&B landscape. On February 14, 2012, Billboard.biz announced that Sylvia Rhone will be launching her own label under the Epic Records umbrella. With in-house access to the professional guidance and dedicated mentorship of esteemed industry veterans, like L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone, this group of aspiring artists will undoubtedly be pushed – and expected – to maximize their full potential.
I am particularly excited about Brandon Hines, who recently released a video to his very own non-soundtrack single: “Yes You Are.” The song and accompanying video treatment are simply marvelous.
Viewers of the 2011 edition of The X Factor may also remember Marcus Canty from his dynamic cover of Boyz II Men’s “Song for Mama” – featuring an emotional on-screen moment with his mother.
Time and time again, through unparalleled artistic development techniques under their watch, L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone have produced – in their respective careers – a musical legacy of Midas-like proportions with sustainable acts over the years: Reid (TLC, Usher and Outkast) and Rhone (Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Erykah Badu). Expect nothing subpar from this Epic “dynamic duo.”