“What made [the Wu] different from everyone else was that they had RZA, and he was so much smarter than everybody else,” Rifkind says in a Complex article published today (March 19). “RZA would come every night at 6 o’clock with a yellow legal pad with 27 lines, with 27 things to do. If it was 85 lines, I would say yes to 80 of them. Then one day he was like, ‘Why are you saying yes to all of them? Are you scared?’ I’m looking at him like, ‘Why would I be scared? Everything that you’re saying makes sense.’”
In the 1990s, Rifkind innovated the Hip Hop market place through his street-team promotion style. He says his label Loud started with a $3,000 investment in 1992, and by 1999 it had over $100,000,000 in sales.
“Steve told us to use the departments to our advantage,” Prodigy, of Mobb Deep, says. “We’d go up to the office, smoke weed, and pick the brains of all the employees to see how we could make the albums sell better, make the videos better, make the promotions better. Steve told me, ‘Build your own studio and charge it to Loud, so the money will go in your pocket. That’s how you get money.’ It was my schooling about the business. Everything that I know and try to do now, I learned from being on Loud.”
After Loud was sold to Sony in 1999, Rifkind began experiencing difficulties.
“When he sold the company to Sony, Steve didn’t make the decisions anymore,” Prodigy says. “It was some people at Sony who probably didn’t give a fuck about Mobb Deep because we didn’t sell enough records. Mobb Deep made hardcore Hip Hop, and we was going to do our numbers, but it’s not so much about first-week sales and, ‘Did you go platinum?’ We felt like goldfish in an ocean with sharks and whales. So we knew right away it was time to go because Steve had nothing to do with it anymore. The writing was on the wall.”
He has since moved on from Loud and his SRC, a label that had a successful run in the 2000s. He currently runs a brand called All Def Digital.
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