From the Dirty South to the West Coast to NYC, Russell “Block” Spencer’s connections in the music business run deep. The longtime industry veteran’s career includes tours of duty with 2Pac and the Outlawz, Suave House, Noontime Music, Sho-nuff Records, and Bad Boy South.
Ten years ago, Spencer established his own brand with Block Entertainment, and he is now working to reestablish his label with a new mantra – “Rebuilding Hip-Hop Block By Block.” The motto also serves as the name of an upcoming musical project from the company that is home to artists such as Gorilla Zoe, Kris Kelli, 48 Slim, Retro Tha Kid and others.
Block is on a mission to alter the state of Hip Hop culture by focusing on the next generation of rising performers. With a track record of helping to launch the careers of Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Yung Joc, and Ciara, Spencer has the insider knowledge needed to cast future stars of the biz.
“Noontime taught me how to make a record, Suave House taught me how to develop an artist, and Pac taught me how to stick to the grind,” explains Spencer.
AllHipHop.com further picked the brain of Russell “Block” Spencer to get his take on his company’s new social media campaign, upcoming projects, working with a famous actor-turned-singer, molding a record industry progeny, and more.
Check out part one of AHH’s exclusive interview with the Block Entertainment boss.
Your label has been around for a while, and you’ve had the chance to work with a lot of different artists. What led to the reinvention of the brand?
We don’t retire. We reinvent. That’s what I’m doing now. My new motto is “Rebuilding Hip-Hop Block By Block.” With that campaign, “Where’s Waldo?” is my first single off the compilation Rebuilding Hip-Hop Block By Block.
A lot of artists sound and look alike these days. A lot of artists are doing the same old sh*t. So “Where’s Waldo?” is “Where’s the art? Where’s that one artist that separates himself?”
So the mixtape will include the different artists on your label?
I have a mixtape that’s going to come out before the compilation. The mixtape, called Where’s Waldo?, is going to be hosted by Bobby Black.
That’s just something where I’m going to get some dudes to send me some records, but the album is Rebuilding Hip-Hop Block By Block. That’s going to be different artists, and I’m going to put big artists on the songs with them. Like I have a song with [Miami rapper] YD featuring Rick Ross and Yo Gotti.
What I want to do is break new artists. I think if you have a power like we have, you should break new artists. That’s what I’m focusing on. I’m focusing on new artists. I’m focusing on untapped markets. 75% of the Rebuilding Hip-Hop Block By Block album will contain artists from untapped markets.
I’m going to go to different cities like Charlotte, Indianapolis. I’ll probably even be in Iowa. I really want to rebuild Hip Hop block by block.
You talked about working with different artists. Can you explain the connection between Columbus Short and Block Entertainment?
Columbus is an urban pop artist. He just wants to take a break from acting for a minute. He’s been acting for like 13 years successfully, but his real passion is singing. I was introduced to Columbus through Jackie Long.
One thing I love about Jackie is that he understands relationships. Jackie understands people over politics. Jackie got down with me and Puff [Sean “Diddy” Combs] early. He used to come through the house in Miami and hang out with me and Puff. I’ve known Jackie for at least 12, 13 years.
So when I would go back to L.A., I would hang out with Jackie. Jackie was in town and said, “Man, Columbus can sing.” I said cool, “Bring him through.” Jackie can rap, so they did this song called, “Red Carpet.” I signed [Short] off that.
Wait until you hear his record. He’s got a single right now called “Burning Bridges.” It was produced by Inkkwell Production company. So that’s where Columbus Short comes in at. I took over the management of his career. We’re rebuilding his whole career.
You mentioned working with Puff. What is that relationship like now?
We’re still brothers. We’re still brothers with Bad Boy South. A lot of people, when they branch out from Puff, they can’t swim without him. I was popping before I got with Puff. Me and Puff are tight as ever. I’m working on his son Christian’s album now.
I knew Quincy was working on music. I didn’t know Christian is working on a project too.
Yeah, he’s dope. He’s got a dope single on my album called “I Got Options.”
Is he rapping or singing?
He’s rapping. Puff better be ready. [laughs]
Yeah, I’m a consultant for NBCUniversal and Nickelodeon. With Nickelodeon, I was brought on to bring new talent and music sitcoms. We’re working out the contract. [editor’s note: A representative for Nickelodeon tells AllHipHop.com the network does not have any such relationship with Spencer]. I’m a paid consultant over there and for NBCUniversal. Right now the project is Ride Along 2.
I met [Universal Vice President, Film Music] Rachel Levy about 10 years ago when I was working on Norbit with Yung Joc. We formed a relationship.
When record companies started to fold, it wasn’t easy to get records from the record companies. So she called me to come on board. It took a couple of years for me to really commit to it, but it’s a smart move for me.
[ALSO READ: Kris Kelli New R&B Star On The Block]
Listen to Big Block’s “Where’s Waldo?” featuring Kris Kelli below.