Steve Rifkind: Louder than a Bomb

Steve Rifkind has always been two steps ahead. Whether it was pioneering the street team, playing an instrumental role in the discovery of Wu-Tang Clan and Akon, or creating amicable contracts with his artists, all had a heavy Rifkind hand.    Fifteen years after Loud Records started, Steve now creates BattleRap through his old, original website. The platform allows undiscovered talent to access beats from Cool & Dre, Midi Mafia, and others, and compete for a chance at a six-figure deal with SRC Records. Steve reveals the method to his madness. AllHipHop.com: To what extent is the Loud Battle an online version of American Idol? Do you think that after voting, people will care enough to support their SRC release?Steve Rifkind: The talent of it is incredible, and the thing that’s going to make it so great is after the 10-week competition, we pick our three or four contestants that make it to the finals in the fourth quarter of next year. [They have] a buzz about themselves and working themselves and [in turn, we give them] radio and TV appearances everything else like that as each round persists. And you know I’m not gonna get involved with anything that I can’t sell records on.AllHipHop.com: Can a rap record arise from the Internet successfully?Steve Rifkind: [The winner will be] working with the biggest and best producers in the world, besides [Dr.] Dre and Scott Storch, where [we have] Akon and David Banner ans RZA and Alchemist and Zukhan, who did the Jim Jones [“We Fly High”] record. By purchasing these tracks, you really have the opportunity, for 99 cents, to make an incredible record, and that’s really what it is. I sold what 65 million records in the last 12 years I wouldn’t even touch this if I didn’t think this was real.AllHipHop.com: Did you handpick the producers that are a part of this?Steve Rifkind: I mean, I’ve always used my stable of producers. Hopefully, people are submitting beats who this guy can be the next Dr. Dre or the next Scott Storch. I got my name back, you know its Loud.com; that’s just something that you know what that meant in the ‘90s. [With] everything that’s going on with Akon this year, we’re closing on four million records worldwide right now.AllHipHop.com: To what extent did Akon grow from a grassroots level, like these contestants would?Steve Rifkind:  Akon [grew] from a grassroots level, now he’s just making the best records in the world his last, five [singles] that he made were all number one, you know the three records that he had “Smack That,” ”I Wanna Love You,” “Don’t Matter” his Gwen Stefani record. And now we’re coming with his two biggest records off the album by the time you know next year at this time when we talk Akon will be the best selling artist of 2007.AllHipHop.com: Will fans ever be able to respect anybody who made it to the top using Internet as a tool?Steve Rifkind: What the Hip-Hop community doesn’t seem to realize is when you take the true, keep it real fan, [and] when they say rap music is down 12% or 8% or whatever that final number is. We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror as a community and say, “You know what, it’s not because these guys are making bad records, it’s because the executives who are scared to take chances and developing new producers new talent.” Who the f**k was Akon four years ago? Who was David banner four years ago? Who was RZA 18 years ago? If you don’t roll the dice and believe instead looking at it like, “This record is happening in Cleveland; this records happening in Atlanta, oh and it sounds good.”  That’s why albums aren’t selling and singles are selling because people are going for the quick hit.AllHipHop.com: I explored the website, where do the stock beats come from?Steve Rifkind:  They just submit beats, and we decide if it is good enough to go in there or not. We might find the next Scott Storch. My whole thing is you’re getting $100,000 in cash and you’re getting a record deal, but the bottom line is if you want this thing that means you’re smart as f**k, and you’re gonna have to market yourself in the community; you’re gonna have to learn how to promote yourself; and you’re gonna have to learn all these things and that’s what makes a great executive.AllHipHop.com: Looking at Pharoahe Monch’s Desire, do you think it is detrimental when a record gets praise before it is released?Steve Rifkind:  No, I think you know, and this is one of the ins and outs people could start hearing different music and whatever and it’s still great things that are going on offline and the great things that are going on online. How XXL gave it an “XL” and AllHipHop.com gave it a four out of five, you know what I’m saying, you take the best of the online component you take the best of the offline component and it’s still gonna happen word of mouth and it’s just another grassroots promotion.AllHipHop.com: What other projects or business ventures do you have planned for the future?Steve Rifkind: You know we got the Wu-Tang Clan album coming we got a lot of pop records coming.AllHipHop.com: What can you tell us about the Wu album?Steve Rifkind: I mean the album; hopefully, if I get this MTV performance, the album will come out a week after the MTV performance, which we’re tryna close. The album is called 8 Diagrams. Everybody’s on the album, and you know I was in the studio last night and was there until 2:30 in the morning even don’t you know I’m very happy with it so far, very happy. Hopefully we will have a single on the streets within the next few weeks.

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