How did artists such as Brent Faiyaz and Pink Sweat$ explode onto the music scene with catastrophic numbers? Look no further than Human Re Sources. The black-owned company was founded by J. Erving in 2017, and has since been recognized as an independent powerhouse for talent development.
Built at the intersection of culture and technology, Human Re Sources provides digital-distribution for a star-studded roster of artists, including YBN Nahmir, YBN Cordae, Baby Rose, Bren Joy, Damian Lillard, and now, RAYE.
At 25 years old, the British singer-songwriter recently released her single “Escapism” feat. 070 Shake, which has skyrocketed to the #1 most added song on TikTok, #7 on the global charts and #23 on Hot 100 in the United States.
And who better to speak to her success than music publishing mogul, entrepreneur and investor Julius Erving III?
AllHipHop spoke with J Erving about the success of “Escapism,” importance in black leadership, and new talent he’s excited about.
AllHipHop: What’s the latest with Human Resources?
J Erving: We’ve been having an absolute blast working on RAYE’s record “Escapism”. The record has been having an incredible moment across TikTok, the global pop charts, streaming platforms and radio – bringing many firsts for both Human Re Sources and RAYE.
AllHipHop: Talk about the strategy on driving culture and elevating young artists?
J Erving: Driving culture is the main goal of our business and is the essential element of breaking a young artist. The first step with all of that is finding and identifying artists who are making great music, without that substance you can’t drive culture. From there, creating sticky content around that music is where you can begin to see movement. In the age of short form content and all the outlets and noise out there, you have to create things that will resonate.
As an artist in 2023, you need to have a team in place who can work records from many different lenses of tastes in music, subcultures and backgrounds. You never know where a song can take off from. Having the perspectives of young executives on my team allows me to see the world and culture through their lenses and deploy resources to places that might be overlooked.
AllHipHop: How did you find RAYE & what did you see in her?
J Erving: Before we even had a chance to meet, we heard the music and immediately felt she had one of the most prolific pens of this generation. Once I had the opportunity to sit down with her, I was blown away with her drive and her brilliance as a songwriter. She had identified a north star of where she wanted her career to go and it just felt like no one could stop her from getting there. The determination I saw was something of someone who was not going to lose. Our approach at Human Re Sources complimented that north star, the smartest thing we could do was get out of her way and just be there to amplify her vision.
AllHipHop: What did you do for the “escapism” record?
J Erving: We didn’t dictate the vision of how this record would be brought to life. We stayed true to RAYE’s vision and made sure we could support her where she needed support. We worked with RAYE to get the music out in a way that was interactive with fans and made sure we had an infrastructure around the single for when this thing started running and gaining momentum.
AllHipHop: What does Black History Month mean to you?
J Erving: Black History Month is a moment to be reflective. I’ve been blessed to live and breathe black music, it consumes me daily, and doesn’t just come and go in a month for me. I like to take this time to pay homage to the black artists who have led the way and specifically to the black artists in Philadelphia, where I was raised. Being from Philadelphia and being able to see what Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and The Roots were able to do was something special. Earlier in my career working with artists like Floetry in the Philadelphia music scene it allowed me to really be surrounded by some very special black talent. The black music lineage is rich and this month is a reminder to always celebrate those that have led the way.
AllHipHop: Why is it important to celebrate black leaders? How can we build black leaders?
J Erving: We build the black leaders of tomorrow by giving them the chances and opportunities to succeed. My team at Human Re Sources is 100 percent people of color. I don’t think all talent needs to have that prestigious internship or college degree, the next superstars of tomorrow just need to have drive, passion and guidance. I don’t look at resumes when I am hiring talent, I want to meet them and see if they are in and of the culture and have the passion to bring 100 percent each day. As a senior black executive, I believe it is a duty to support and build up the people coming up under us.
AllHipHop: What are the big picture trends you see in hip-hop + R&B?
J Erving: The most obvious is the tools that these young artists have at their disposal to build their profile and create music. These artists now have the chance to learn how to make, write and distribute music all from their cellphones. The access to technology has been huge for young folks – no longer do they need to rely on these old way gatekeepers. We are getting way more music and content as a result of this and that is a win for music fans, the industry and these artists.
AllHipHop: How do you view music distribution nowadays?
J Erving: The fact that these young people have these tools is awesome, because it provides a great opportunity to offer distribution WITH services. Having a distribution based deal and partners who have additional power to market, create and get the music out there.
Not too long ago, It was always about getting a record deal first as the way to get their music out there. With that came some downsides and the inability to own their music. Nowadays, young people are thinking more about independence and ownership and how they can maintain that – we are entirely supportive of that and empower the artists we work with to own their work. That has been a big reason why artists like Brent Faiyaz, Pink Sweat$ and RAYE have wanted to work with us.
AllHipHop: What are you most excited for next?
J Erving: Breaking more artists – Kelz from Brooklyn is one in the R&B space that we are very excited about. We also are seeing a lot of great rap music in Atlanta – Rico Cash just released a fantastic new record and has the Atlanta scene on lock – this has us really looking forward to all the new music we will be distributing that is based out of that city.