After releasing his acclaimed Digital Smoke collaborative album with Kurupt in 2007, rapper-producer J. Wells unintentionally embarked upon a new career path. Due to the independent success of the release, the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist was asked to bring in new projects to INgrooves-Fontana, which distributed the project.
That led to J. Wells helping artists set up their own own independent labels, working with them to facilitate virtually every aspect of their project’s release, from creating a budget to communicating with the distributor and hiring the team (publicist, radio promotions) that would help him oversee an album’s rollout. He worked in such a capacity on projects for Lil Scrappy (Tha Grustle), Kurupt and Raekwon, among others.
The process taught J. Wells, who also owns and operates his own Bonzi Records, about the inner-workings of the music business.
“I just saw a lot of things that could be done differently with the people that were in power as far as handling the business,” J. Wells says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “I wanted to be able to make my change in the process of how a record is put out independently. It sorta just kind of turned into that. It was so many things going on. I produced Keyshia Cole. I had a bunch of commercials was working with Snoop and doing commercials with Paul Hunter. There was just so many things going on. I hired a bunch folks, radio people and I didn’t agree with how some people were handling their positions. So I kind of wanted to be respected as a business person and not just a creative person because i feel like in the music business the creative people are kind of the last people a lot of times on the totum pole to be respected and be heard and in a position of power.”
J. Wells’ success with Digital Smoke and with Kurupt, Lil Scrappy and others led to other artists and companies reaching out for him to perform similar services for them. He worked with D. Woods after she left Danity Kane and Donell Jones, veteran artists who sought advice on sustaining their careers.
“I just kind of help some of these artist understand the dynamics of what goes on with their release beyond the album coming out,” he says, “how it breaks down, what the economics are, where the economics end up, who ends up with the bulk of the money and helping artist get to the real revenue stream of their works.”
J. Wells Working With Kurupt, Bangladesh, King Chip
As his career evolves, J Wells is co-executive-producing Kurupt’s GTV2 DVD and is preparing to shoot the video for the Kurupt and Roscoe song “Shuv It,” which premiered on HipHopDX last month.
“Shuv It” is slated to be featured on J. Wells’ Inebriated album, which is scheduled for an August release. Guests on the project are set to include Ray J, Kurupt, Ne Yo, Big Gipp, Tyrese, The Bizness, Slim Calhoun and Nipsey Hussle.
He is also working with Bangladesh (Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Ludacris), King Chip, Sir Michael Rocks, mentor J-Ro from Tha Alkaholiks and Ruff Ryders, among others, in a variety of capacities.
“The main thing I tell artists and labels is it’s all about content,” J. Wells says, “being a content creator and being consistent with putting content online, whether you’re doing a video and putting it on YouTube, or having your social media active, galvanize your own fanbase and control what’s actually being sent out to these folks that are following you.”
Below is HTC’s Miami Bass Project video, which J. Wells scored.
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