lilD: UGE keeps ‘listening’Written by lilD | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Who would’ve thought it possible to allow a roomful of unknown artists to hone their skills without the fear of criticism? UGE thought so.
The Toledo label is home to some of the most talented artists in the area, and instead of hosting club nights, it decided to kill two birds with one stone, by introducing its artists to people who can get them ahead while giving its artists a chance to practice its performances.
One thing UGE prides itself on is standing out from the cliché of rappers and R&B artists who have no real meaning in their music. Some people may be turned off by this, but the people who can put them in better positions hear them loud and clear. With all the production for the artists done in-house, and a lot of the artists writing their own music, UGE has the components for a winning formula.
Every Saturday, the Truth Gallery provides an eclectic atmosphere filled with poets, Hip-Hop artists, singers, dancers and anyone else with talent. The people in the crowd are mature enough to understand that while some artists are polished, others are just getting started, so there is no judgment (unless you really deserve to be laughed at). But the audience is also loosened up enough to laugh and have a good time. They call it “The Listening.”
When people expect excellence, others looking in can assume the group is stuck-up, but the artists on UGE are probably some of the most down-to-earth people in the business. They work full-time jobs, take care of their families and never give up on their dreams. And with a support group like the label’s CEOs Michael “Mercury” Hayes and LaVale “Adonis” Stewart, they have good reason.
The people who run the UGE label do everything they can to ensure the success of their artists. They understand that perception is reality, so their outward appearance is immaculate. On June 18, rapper and UGE signee T Diamond celebrated his birthday at The Listening. The room was packed, lots of different kinds of artists performed and there was never a dull moment. T Diamond showed up fashionably late (fashion included), and was immediately shouted-out.
The thing that’s most impressive about UGE as a label is that it listen. Yes, the Listening is ultimately a platform to practice and showcase UGE artists, but the heads of the label aren’t afraid to ask questions, gather information, research their markets and remain inquisitive about the business in which they’re trying to succeed. After some of their performances, I’ve even been asked “What can I improve on?”
So often, artists, managers or labels as a whole acquire a little local fame and forget that they don’t know everything that it takes to be successful on a larger scale. This is not the case with UGE; it hosts special listening sessions with esteemed people who can constructively critique its work, and they have no problem implementing the changes it has to take place.
Are there some areas that need work? Of course. But the Listening is the perfect place to fix them before the artists perform in front of an audience that won’t be as polite. A lot of people, not just artists, could learn a lot from the example that UGE is setting. When an avenue is not opened for what you are trying to do, open it up yourself.