Picture: Courtesy, Revolt TV
Even if you don’t know him, you KNOW of him. You’ve seen him in the background getting teased by 2017 female rapper phenom, Cardi B. His name is Brooklyn Johnny – and he is one pillar of the team that helped Cardi B get and sustain her success so far.
Where else is Johnny from? BROOKLYN – Fab voice. Standing on the second floor in the huge Eden Roc Hotel on South Beach, Miami, Fla. – I anxiously waited for Johnny to be escorted to the interview area for press after his panel at the 2017 Revolt Music Conference, “F*ck the A&R, Do It Yourself.” Surrounded by panel mates, Orlando Whartonberg of Atlantic Record, Kawan ‘KP’ PRATHER AT I AM OTHER, Darrale Jones of Concrete Ent., and Ryan Press of Warner/Chappell Music – it’s safe to say he was in good company. And the environment of such should speak volumes of his grind.
Not only is Johnny the CEO of 6Hundred Entertainment/Def Jam and the Co-Owner of Concrete Ent., but he refuses to sugarcoat the dedication it takes to get noticed in this business.
“If you have an original tone.. a unique flow and a unique style.. when those things are paired, at some point you’ll get a shot,” said Johny. “People like the feeling of new.. and something that’s not hot today, may be hot tomorrow, but it still has to be good.”
It’s safe to say Johnny knows a thing or two about picking out and developing talent. Cardi B wasn’t always met with open arms, as most discredited her after her appearance on Love & Hip Hop, especially after learning her backstory of being an exotic dancer in Bronx neighborhoods.
But Johnny’s words grew to be prophetic, as her flow and image dominated the rap and even pop culture scene with the monster success of her single, “Bodak Yellow.”
“If the people in your community don’t support your music, it’s going to be twice as difficult for you to get other people to support your music.”
When asked about the importance most artists place on a “co-sign,” similar to Jay-Z’s co-sign of J. Cole or Nas’ of Dave East, Johnny was very honest about how excellence will always rise to the top.
“It’s not important, I think the industry has changed around that.. a lot of times, a bigger artist said something about a smaller artist and [they] have already been going so crazy on the internet, that by the time they say something, they’re already poppin’,” said Johnny. “But all the artists that Drake, Jay and Puff are co-signing are already hot on their own.”
The biggest takeaway from my time with Johnny was this: “Being an artist that’s not ready for a record deal, is like someone buying a big mansion that’s can’t afford to pay the mortgage on it.. You want to be able to sustain yourself, you want to be in a position where you’re moving and you are YOUR OWN company. Labels just help you grow, you plant the seed.”