What started as illegal bootlegging is today in 2004 an ever growing, strategically organized marketing plan. Mixtapes gets new artists from the music industry out to the masses as quick as possible. The man behind the machine, mixtape distributor AG, has positively exploited this market. He is the medium that carries underground music from its producer, to the shelves of stores in a matter of 24 hours. Building his empire from a one man operation, into a legit corporation, AG has proclaimed himself “A self-made man.”
Not only did he help to launch the careers of many DJ’s such as Clinton Sparks and open the East Coast market for DJ Vlad but, he has also been called upon by major labels to get some of the industry’s major players more exposure. Four years after he stepped foot into the realm of hip-hop, AG is ready to pass his torch onto someone else and become a record exec. With his new artist Flawless on over 30 mixtapes to date, AG is ready to hang up his “street clothes” and wear a “business suit.” Using the experience and knowledge he learned from working with mainstream and up and coming DJ’s, he plans to make a success out his management career. With connections to most of the major labels aand the streets, this should be an easy task.
AllHipHop.com: So how did you get started?
AG: With the mixtape distribution thing, I got started with DJ Clinton Sparks. He’s a friend of mine. I met him when I was working at Violator records. I used to shop his beats. I used to run around to all the labels and stuff. He was already on the radio, but he wanted to do some mixtapes. So I started running around finding stores out here that did mixtapes. That’s really how it got started. I started with him, then I went to DJ Enuff.
AllHipHop.com: How long ago was that?
AllHipHop.com: What do you do that makes you the ‘Mixtape King’?
AG: The thing is, just having a good relationship with all the stores that carry mixtapes, and making sure that the person who you’re distributing for gets in as many places as possible. A lot of people who do this like DJ’s really don’t have the knowledge of getting the stores in Brooklyn because they don’t know where Brooklyn is; they’re not even from NY.
AllHipHop.com: Did you start in New York?
AG: Yes, I mainly do tri-state. But I do handle areas like Philly, Connecticut, and Jersey; things of that nature. I don’t really go too far. I have a couple of spots in Cali. I sprinkle them around; I don’t really go too heavy with the out of state distribution.
AllHipHop.com: So in New York, how many stores do you have that you work with?
AG: DJ Clinton Sparks. DJ Vlad already had a name, but I did help with his distribution out here. I helped DJ Enuff out a lot. He wasn’t that big in the mixtape game until he started messing with me. After that he really went hard at it. Up and coming people like DJ Hitz and DJ Radio. They’ll probably both be nominated for ‘Rookie Of The Year’, at the Mix Tape Awards.
AllHipHop.com: Where are you going as a mixtape promotion?
AG: When I first got into this game, I never expected to be as big as it is for me and to stay in it this long. I’ve created some what of a conglomerate with this. It’s part of my everyday life. I will do A&R for labels or artist placement and things like that. I’m staying with it but I’m not really trying to progress too much with it because it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to get the A&R job, the V.P. job and conquer my next goal.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any artists? One might expect you to.
AG: I’m working with an artist that’s crazy right now from Brooklyn named Flawless. Since I’ve been working with him, I’ve had him on over 30 mixtapes so far. Big Mike, Vlad, DJ Kurupt; the new Cutmaster C too. He’s managed by me.
AllHipHop.com: Are your fees high? Have they changed any since you’ve first started?
AG: They really haven’t. I feel like this, the amount of work I put into it saves a DJ a lot of time and a lot of energy. You know dealing with these stores on a day to day basis. I definitely charge, but I’m worth every penny. I charge a lot, but it’s worth it. After they start messing with me, they understand how hard my job is and they do honor me with that. I quote DJ Vlad when he said, ‘I do not envy your job at all.’
AllHipHop.com: Do you think your work changed the game?
AG: I dropped the first Kanye West mixtape, The Get Well Soon Mixtape. I was the first person to ever put that in the streets through DJ Enuff. If you don’t know Kanye West is actually a ‘Heavy Hitter.’ Enuff helped him by putting the mixtape out and I was actually the under-boss of that. I was the person who put that Get Well Soon mixtape after he got into a car accident in the streets of New York. People didn’t even know that he rhymed, much-less got into a car accident. That CD also had ‘Through The Wire.’ It was a classic mixtape. It helped him a lot to let people know that he was a rapper and not just a producer. Not only do I do DJ’s, I’ve done the Memphis Bleek Mixtape, Rolling Stone. I’ve done Red Café and a couple of other people. This week I’m doing the Busta Rhymes, Big Mike mixtape. Busta’s my dude so I’m helping him out because I knew him since Violator. Labels even holla at me to get their product out there.
AllHipHop.com: What labels?
AG: I’ve done stuff for Violator, Roc-A-Fella, Arista with the Star Trek mixtape when they were on Arista. I’ve done a Snoop Dogg mixtape before. That was hosted by Sickamore. A couple of labels holla at the kid.
AllHipHop.com: I heard you mention a conglomerate. So you have a huge company now?
AG: When I first started, it was just me. Four years ago, I didn’t even have a car. I used to borrow my mother’s car and my son’s mother’s car. Most of the time, if I couldn’t get their car, I used to be on the train with a bag of 500 CD’s. I’d go back home once I get rid of that and then go get another 500 CD’s. Now I have employees so if I’m running around doing other stuff. I have one person hit Queens, one person hit Harlem. Not only am I making money, I’m making sure that people I grew up with can get some money as well. I gotta grow but I also want to stay grounded as I first started in the music industry. That came from the streets. I can’t say to all my DJ’s, ‘Nah, I can’t do your stuff no more because I’m big.’ The next person like me could have the same drive and ambition. I have a lot of power doing this. With power comes publicity. I was in the July issue of the Source and I’m gonna be in the January issue of the XXL.