Soca Superstar Nailah Blackman In A Major International Recording Deal

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By Michael Mondezie

Blackman recently signed a three-year recording and distribution contract with Philadelphia-based American music label Big Money Records (BMR), a subsidiary of industry titan Republic Records, in New York, USA.

Republic Records boasts a powerhouse line-­up of artistes, inclu­ding Trinidad and To­ba­go-born Grammy-­no­mi­nated hip-hop star Nicki Minaj (Onika Mar­aj-­Petty) and Ameri­can multiple Grammy Award-winning pop star Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, among others.

In an exclusive interview yesterday, Blackman told the Express that the deal represents “the next step” to take her music career “to the next level”.

“This record deal has been a long time in the making. I was approached by an execu­tive from BMR—Big Money Records, which is a subsidiary of Republic. I went to a writing camp in Philadelphia; it was amazing and we deci­ded that we had a really good synergy and they could be the ones to really take me to the next level,” she said.

Blackman however remained tight-lipped about the details of the deal, including her cash advance and percenta­ges but admitted “nego­tiations lasted really long”.

“These negotiations lasted really long, I would admit. Maybe over six months we were negotiating this deal. It’s a three-year deal and I’m super excited to see how it all plays out,” she said.

All going to plan

Blackman took to her Instagram page to share a video of the signing ceremony yesterday with BMR CEO Jamelia “Whoa” Ho-Sang.

Ho-Sang presented the “Sweet & Loco” singer with a signing present of a rose gold necklace and a diamond-encrus­ted pendant of the BMR logo.

BMR/Republic were not the first international recording labels to come courting, Blackman told the Express yesterday.

The “Best Self” singer said she was flown to New York in the past for talks with hip-hop/pop music star maker Def Jam. There were also ap­proaches for her signa­ture across the pond in the United Kingdom, she added.

BMR/Republic is the right fit, she added, because of the great “work synergy” between the label and her brand.

“Different labels didn’t work out for diffe­rent reasons, but all still good relationships kept. And this one, it just happened to flourish into something beautiful. I think the connection and work synergy is really there with Big Money Records, so I’m really looking forward to seeing where it could go,” she said.

Blackman says while putting ink to paper is “a sweet moment”, the truth is “the work has just begun”.

“It was always part of the plan to be signed by a major. It’s always de plan to get your music, your artistry on a platform where it could go further. It really means my work has just begun. There is just so much work to do. If my calendar and my schedule was full before, it just got like ten times more full.

“Are there limitations on what I can and cannot do? Not necessarily just yet. Until we put out a project, which a lot of work is gonna be goin’ into, there are not a lot of restrictions other than my time. My time is gonna be really slim; they gonna be taking up most of my time working on the project,” she said.

Huge opportunity for soca

Signing to BMR “will shed a new light on soca music”, Blackman said. It’s up to her firstly to deliver and other artistes to position themselves to be seen to fully capitalise on the moment, she added.

“Does it open doors for other artistes? Yes! As long as they working hard and creating good music, and I am also being successful at doing just that, everybody is going to look for what’s next.

“I mean soca artistes have been signed by major labels before. It’s really just what you do with it. It’s a tool that’s super important for the elevation of one’s career. Once you have the right team, right music and right branding to go with it. But it’s something that’s all in your hands. Being signed by a record label is really having a machine that can push you, but you have to do the work.

“Soca music has to do the work. It does shine a new light on the genre as I will now be in places I’ve never been before, and I’m an ambassador for soca music and I do represent soca and Trinidad and Tobago very proudly. So automatically, there will be a new light shed on soca music and the culture,” she said.

‘Shorty’ would be proud

The whole Blackman clan is celebrating this moment, according to Blackman. It is a moment long envisioned by her grandfather, soca music inventor Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman).

“The feedback from my family has been absolutely beautiful. My mom is over the moon, obviously. And I think that my grandfather was very proud, very strong, and he would have envisioned this for me. He would have envisioned this for any one of his children, and now his granddaughter, for sure, because he would have known we had what it takes to get to this level. I’m definitely filled with pride and I intend to take it all the way,” she said.

Blackman said her grandfather long saw music as a great provi­der for their family and, by extension, the people of T&T.

“I think when he (Shorty) was creating soca music, he always intended to create something that could secure me and my family and Trinidad and Tobago forever. So, yeah, he definitely imagined it would go this way.

“This is just the beginning. This is the first step in the right direction. And now the work begins. It’s really about aligning and putting in the sweat and tears to get it to flourish to be what it should be,” a proud Blackman conclu­ded.

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