Bishop Lamont spent five years at Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment without ever releasing an album. Despite the lack of an LP, the West Coast rapper gained attention during that time through his musical contributions to video games.
Lamont’s appearances on the Madden 2007 and NBA Live 06 soundtracks were big wins for his career, but they were accomplished through a lot of headache. In a new interview with Murder Master Music Show, Lamont revealed the difficulty involved in landing those placements due to Aftermath’s lack of understanding the video game world.
“When I was signed to Aftermath, the label was giving me the most difficulty with clearing songs for video games because they didn’t understand the importance of video games,” Lamont said. “Does that make any sense? No! So, it was like pulling teeth and fucking nails to get songs cleared. And I’m always up at EA, I was always up at Rockstar. I was in New York and they’re like, ‘Yo, we want the song!’ I’m trying to explain to the general managers and niggas over there: ‘Yo, you know how much video games sell. You know how big their audiences are?’ And they still not hearing me because they don’t understand it. Now being free, I can get all that shit licensed without having to deal with a major. This is another reason why artists gotta stop thinking they gotta be in the industry. Fuck the industry!”
Lamont used the interview as a platform to give advice to fellow artists and warn them about the trappings of major labels. The “Back Up Off Me” MC advised rappers to stay independent.
“I want artists to start thinking of this: stop thinking a major is gonna do everything for you!” Lamont said. “A major is like being a free person and walking onto a plantation and saying, ‘Please, put me on the field and let me be a slave!’ Or ‘Hey, let me be a house nigga!’ If you don’t like hard work, then be my guest and go to a major. For some people, it works. But in this day and age, it’s more important to be indie. I was on the biggest label there is and there’s a lot of downside to it. There’s a lot of overhead and debt that is not even yours, but you’re responsible for it. So when you sign a deal, you gonna be in the red. You’re not gonna be in the black. They gonna make sure you’re never in the black. And by those terms I mean you always gonna be in debt! When you take the deal, it’s a bank loan and it has super interest on it.”
Lamont went on to explain how much money the video game industry can make an artist, but said that artists are tough to get on board. The Carson native said music execs don’t understand the marketing value of video games.
“Over here in Cali, the EA offices were right down the street, so I was always hanging out,” he said. “I knew everybody, so they would put me on every song. They put me on every game I mean. I be in New York. I know all the cats at Rockstar. They like, ‘You wanna be on this game? You wanna be on this game?’ Then they put you on the video game convention. They pay you to play the game. They pay you to perform. You build your fan base bigger. Labels ain’t thinking about that because that’s not their concern because they can’t really get paid off it. They’re like, ‘That’s not promoting us. That’s not what we tryna do. We tryna sell records. If we can’t get X, Y and Z off it, why should we care.’ But they don’t realize it’s a branding tool.”
Lamont wrapped things up by providing more guidance to artists. He cited Run The Jewels as a success story of independent artists securing placements and explained how moving outside of the music industry cuts out the middleman.
“Video games make more money than albums do,” Lamont continued. “Video games make money like films do. So, the smart thing for independent artists is to look at TV and film licenses. Look at TV and film and understand that off doing one commercial, you will see better royalties than you will off of a song guaranteed because it’s free and clear. You ain’t dealing with a label. It’s just you, your agent [and] whatever the SAG shit is. And that’s you. Think if you got a song license on there. Every time that commercial plays, you getting paid. But it’s a whole different hustle because it’s a bigger amount of money.”
Listen to Bishop Lamont’s entire interview above.