Though he works in the industry, Nigel Talley is not an industry dude. He’s an “in-the-streets” dude. The record label A&R and artist/producer manager prides himself on keeping his ear to the streets despite the major connections he has made in the music industry over the last fifteen years. Tally serves as A&R for Warner Bros. Records, but aside from that, he is the glue that connects artists with industry tastemakers and local influencers. Being a tastemaker himself, the Bronx-native stays on the scene and keeps abreast of everything that’s bubbling under, and that’s why he’s the man that everyone calls when they want to know what’s hot.
So how did you get your start in the industry?
I started with Puff. I did another internship in high school with Stepsun [Records] but my real first initial start was with Bad Boy. Actually, Wolf put me in the mix, God bless the dead. He told Puff, ‘this my guy from the Bronx.’ I became like his A&R Assistant in music. My job was to find out what the new hot s–t was and present it to him. I helped him with the Forever album. At that point, I was also working with Mase. I did some stuff for Shyne too.
As an A&R today, is your role different than it was 10 or 15 years ago?
I feel like back in the days, the A&R’s job was just to go in and create the record. Whereas, now, the job is also about brand recognition. You want to introduce artists to bloggers, tastemakers, it’s like a co-managerial position. You gotta build an artist’s reputation in addition to building their record.
What artists do you work with?
I’m currently working on Curren$y. I’m also assisting with Vado, who is on Interscope. Jae Millz. Meek Mill, a few others. I do outside label work. I also represent producers. I manage Soul Diggaz and a songwriter named Corte Ellis. We present records to different people. We placed records with Britney Spears and Beyonce.
Wow, some big names, must be nice. Who are some people who inspire your style?
I respect how Puff, Steve Stoute, and Kevin Liles do it. They know how to clean it up. If I had to follow footsteps, it would be those dudes. Stoute will wear a suit with some sneakers and kill it. I like that. You gotta dress for success. If you look like money, money will resonate. When you look like a thug, people are scared of you. You gotta put a sweater on. Don’t be afraid of that cashmere. Don’t be afraid to live that life. You better throw a cashmere sweater on, so when they shake your hand, they feel that cashmere.
What about your grooming? Who handles that?
I go to one barber in the Bronx. I’m still a little hood. I still do everyday regular stuff. One day I may be with Puff on a private plane, but I’m still in City Island with my [friends]on a Saturday night. I love the barbershop talk. You hear the realest conversations there. That’s who you make the music for. I have someone who can come give me that cut at home, but I’d rather be in the shop. They talk about everything in there, from sports to music. Those are the number one conversations in the barbershops. There’s endless conversations that spark up great debates. It’s the same conversation, whether you in Memphis, Detroit, D.C., wherever.
Follow Nigel on Twitter @NYGiant
The G-List is TheUrbandaily.com’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.
The G-List Is Sponsored By