The Vice President of A&R at Empire Records, Tina Davis, was the latest guest to stop by BET’s Black Coffee. The veteran music executive joined host Marc Lamont Hill and fellow guest, comedic-actor Greg Davis Jr. aka Klarity, to discuss everything from clout-chasing on social media and sustainability in the industry, to her latest music reality show The Next Big Thing.
While on the topic of the show, the Oakland, California native Davis, who hustled her way up from an assistant, to an intern turned A&R at Def Jam Records, opened up about working alongside co-host Damon “Dame” Dash. The former manager of Jay-Z, and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella records, is infamous for his strong personality, and no-hold bars demeanor, especially when it comes to being vocal.
“It’s so crazy because I worked at Def Jam for 10 years while Dame and Roc-a-Fella was there. So this is a lightweight version of Dame and I,” Davis admitted. “It was really bad back in the day [but] we all loved each other. We were young kids running labels and talking a lot of mess.”
“You know, Damon, he has a point to prove, and he’s going to make sure that you hear it. Everybody is going to hear what Dame feels, and for me, I felt like, not everybody can just, shut it down. He keeps going, and you can’t just, shut him down. I’m not saying I shut him down all the time, but I will say that I stood my ground. I’m not going to sit there and just let you talk me to death,” Davis said.
When asked about what to expect from The Next Best Thing, and the need for another reality-esque, music competition tv show, Davis replied:
“We need a show like this because of exactly what [Marc] said [earlier]. This clout chasing, social media [era]. What happens is, anyone can become a star from social media now. So even in music, if you sing and do a great job, you can actually get picked up and get a deal from that.
“But what’s missing is that artist development portion. When you go to vocal training. When you run and sing, and make sure you have stamina. To be able to walk back and forth and do five songs on a show. Those little things, those intricate things are important for going to the next level.
So this show is to really elevate the talent pool, so that when these artists do get deals, they have some tools that they can use on their own. They don’t have to go pay for it. They don’t have to necessarily go to the best for it. They can [just] take these tools and apply them, and get better at what they do.”
Davis, who is not only classically trained on the piano, but has also worked with artists such as Chris Brown, DMX, Montell Jordan, LL Cool J, Scarface and many more, went on to detail the importance of not just social media presence, but real life stage presence too.
“There are a lot of artists who have high streaming numbers, but they can’t tour because they can’t fill a room. We’re taking [contestants] on bootcamp and all those things to teach them it’s not just about singing, it’s not just about being on the mic, or having parties.”
The Next Big Thing is a music competition series that follows 12 contestants as they compete and participate in an intense artist development bootcamp. The judging panel is comprised of Tina Davis, Dame Dash and producer Zaytoven. The last two finalists remaining will an opportunity to audition in front of four major record labels, with the chance of possibly signing a record deal. The show debuts Tuesday, July 9 at 10/9 c.