Following success last year with singles Jumanji and 079ME, Hackney rapper B Young returns featuring on Collie Buddz's new single Bank.
With more of his own material expected this year, plus the possibility of a B Young album further down the line, Preye Crooks, A&R at Columbia Records, discusses the rapper's current rise and the obstacles he has to overcome in a "shifting" musical landscape...
B Young had one of the biggest breakthroughs of 2018. How did you and he achieve that?
"It always starts with the music, and that comes down to the artist. B is amazingly talented, with a unique tone and the ability to write catchy and recognisable lyrics. He is also supremely hardworking, and usually delivers his tracks pretty much ready to release. From that point, the brilliant individuals in the Columbia marketing, press and digital teams take over – and we are all delighted with his success so far."
How do you break a UK debut artist now? What are the challenges?
"Great music, great manager, a great team! The challenge is there’s a little bit of oversaturation in the market. It’s great if you are a consumer, but it’s harder for artists to compete for that consumer’s gaze. Again, it really comes down to the ability and ambition of the artist. B seems to have really connected with a multitude of demographics, and he made the decision to release [solo] songs throughout 2018 without features – which I think really allowed him to establish himself as an artist."
B seems to have really connected with a multitude of demographics
Do albums still matter for a new artist?
"I hope so! We do seem to be living in a bit more of a single’s world right now, but at least in Columbia, the discussion of albums and projects are always welcomed and encouraged. I think albums are a great way for an artist to create a cohesive picture, and it can accentuate their versatility too. B’s focus has always been on creating great music first and foremost, but we hope to have that discussion with him sometime soon."
What do you think the outlook is for new UK artists given the lack of breakthroughs in 2018 – what is Columbia's strategy in establishing new artists at track and album level?
"The outlook is bright in my opinion. I think the methodology of discovering and engaging with music shifted in 2018, which might have had an effect on the number of artists to ‘break’ throughout the year. Having said that, there were a number of artists that really smashed into the scene and the charts, and have set themselves up for what should be an amazing 2019. I’m really excited for what’s coming. In terms of the strategy, I think it’s about great music, and tailoring a campaign that accentuates artist’s strengths and where they feel most comfortable. The artist needs to lead this to maximise authenticity, and then we as a label merely support, suggest and execute."