New York-based African-American music/lifestyle blogger of Liberian descent, Richardine Bartee who for more than ten years since she founded her “Grungecake” blog site has been astute and committed to the affairs of African music has reacted to an accusation that International record labels are not paying their dues in supporting and promoting African artist and music.
Richardine Bartee, a member of The Grammys Recording Academy has done outstanding work with labels such as Sony Music, Universal Music Group and MTV and has promoted some of the biggest Nigerian stars and thus qualifies as an expert of sort to speak on international labels activities in Africa.
In her reaction in a recent interview, she said, “I think some International labels have done their parts by signing artists with the aesthetic or sound like Wizkid and Davido (Sony/RCA Records). Warner Music Group also partnered with Nigerian label Chocolate City Music, which is home to CKay and so many other talented African artists.
“In 2019, Tiwa Savage signed to Universal Music Group. Let’s not forget that Def Jam, which is a division of Universal Music Group, just launched Def Jam Africa during the COVID-19 lockdown. So, that takes care of the Big 3. It’s still early to say what will happen in the future, but we are all doing our part to make a difference. Once more of us learn how to market African music, successfully in the United States of America, the rest will be history.”
On her part she explained how she has been helping African artist, using her platform and influence.
“Yes, I have worked very hard to be in this position. It is not a “form of relevance”. It is relevant. My plan is the same for the African artists I represent. Honestly, what I do isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes a daily effort to “break” any artist, regardless of the region. When you’re dedicated and committed, there are no days off. I have conversations about new artists with our industry’s power players regularly, whether I’m representing them or not. It’s just who I am. If I like your music, you’re part of my conversations,” she said.
Richardine’s passion about pushing African music has her well aware that aside the music giants such as Davido, Burna Boy and more getting their music played internationally, there are a lot more undiscovered artists waiting to be heard and her desire to be a part of the voices amplifying the genre is somewhat linked to the fact that she is of Liberian descent.
“My plan is to push the culture forward. I think it is in my blood. My father was passionate about Africa, especially Liberia. I think that the only way to help Liberia, in any way, is to help everyone.
The music guru’s genius for identifying great music and seeing the potential in making them marketable to bigger audiences outside of their region is what has brought her where she is now.
From writing in high school merely as a hobby to starting her website Grungecake.com and going on to write and work for MTV, Roc Nation and other industry professionals, Richardine Bartee does not discriminate when it comes to genres and only looks out for music that connects to her in whatever language it’s in.
“For me, the genre doesn’t matter. It’s about the product, the market, and setting real expectations. I listen to hear if the artist has the potential to garner a large audience. It’s important to me if I’m looking to take them on as an emerging act and make an impact. Otherwise, we are wasting each other’s time. Next, I want to know if the artist and their team are clear communicators and easy to work with. That also matters, just as much as the talent,” she said in a recent interview with kuulpeeps.com.
Apart from the big “3” she has worked with, she has also worked with other labels or imprints like Roc Nation, Group, Interscope Records, Quality Control, RCA, Epic Records, etc., and some international labels to give feedback about their artists frequently.
She also used to write for MTV, where she covered international multi-language speaking artists and had a focus on Hip-Hop and EDM. She has also written feature articles for Myspace, The Source and Hot 97’s DJ Enuff, who was Biggie’s DJ.
She is a member of the Recording Academy, a GRAMMY U Mentor, part of Complex Day Ones, which is an exclusive community to help make complex experiences better. She’s also a part of the Female Founder Collective.