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BREAKING BRENT


A company created by Black entrepreneurs and anchored by a Black indie artist, Brent Faiyaz, stunned the biz with a huge bow last week. Ty Baisden and Jayne Andrew, partners and co-founders of Colture—an acronym for Can Our Leverage Teach Us Real Equity—are the principals behind all things Faiyaz, a completely independent R&B star who’s forged his own path in the biz and on the charts. Colture oversees Lost Kids, the label created by Baisden and Faiyaz, which released WASTELAND, the widely admired set that has given monster Bad Bunny a run for #1.

“We’re trying to build a pipeline for Black artists who want to operate outside of the major-label system,” says Baisden, who has co-authored a book, The Colture Playbook, due 8/24, detailing his odyssey and outlook. “Not because we feel the major-label system is a terrible thing. I think there are a lot of pros and cons to every system, but from a mental-health perspective, an empowerment perspective—from just being able to get credit in the creative world and to get paid—we believe Black people can plant seeds of wealth outside the major-label system and own their art.”

Rights, equity, licenses. These are the terms Baisden has fought for over the last decade as he's represented Faiyaz, who sings as sweetly as any '90s R&B star while spitting lyrics as toxic as Future’s. As Andrew puts it, “Brent can say vulgar things in the most beautiful way. The juxtaposition is incredible.”

And though Faiyaz sings and raps, it’s not quite fair to lump him in with the rapping/singing fraternity that's taken over pop. His swagger requires no qualification—it’s visible. This confidence has attracted both R&B and hip-hop fans, along with such all-star collaborators as Drake, No I.D., Tyler, The Creator and Alicia Keys. His voice represents the underground, the streets and the future.

Faiyaz’s ascent is a familiar story: Baisden discovered him on SoundCloud, after which he connected with producers Dpat and Atu—who are signed to Colture’s publishing house, Cowboys & Pirates—to form the group Sonder, resulting in his first mixtape. Faiyaz’s guest hook on GoldLink’s “Crew,” meanwhile, served as a launchpad.

As Sonder built buzz, it prompted a protracted signing derby. But unlike nearly every other hot act, Faiyaz and company wouldn’t commit to a deal with a major.

“When Sonder put ‘Too Fast’ out in 2017,” Baisden recalls, “offers started coming in, and I realized, these deals are really not that good. We decided, fuck it; if they’re not gonna give us what we want, we’re not gonna do it. Nobody would accept our terms.”

Those terms included increasing the 18% royalty share, which majors wouldn’t budge on. Moreover, Baisden couldn’t make sense of giving up a piece of the mechanicals pie on top of the digital royalty—not to mention giving up the rights forever. And after Colture's attorney drafted a licensing proposal for $150k for one album, which was turned down by every label, Baisden knew what the next step was.

“We are just going to figure this out for ourselves,” he remembers thinking. “At the same time, [a mega-manager] was trying to buy a stake in our company. We were in negotiations and it motivated me to find some help to run this business, someone who’s just as smart as me—a woman, a Black woman, specifically.”

An agent connected Ty with artist whisperer Jayne Andrew, who, until then, was heavily involved with creators at TDE, working closely with SZA and Grammy-winning producer Terrace Martin, among others. Together, Baisden and Andrew formulated a plan to scale the company, with Faiyaz’s blossoming career as a springboard.

Andrew details the services and guidance Colture offers artists: “It’s not all about capital and financing. Sometimes they need structure. Sometimes it’s ideas, marketing, helping them determine their creative capacity.”

But the backbone of Colture's work is ownership. For now, it's owning the charts with WASTELAND, Faiyaz’s overdue sophomore full-length. And they are still getting offers—which certainly figure to be in the seven-figure range, for starters. Baisden says of the prospective deals, “I’m sure someone’s trying to get in contact with us right now.”

What’s next for Faiyaz and team? Whatever they damn well please.

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