#YN Deal or No Deal: "Independent" Artists Who Sign . Written By @KourtneyAri

Despite the headlines of shock and confusion...

Image Via Wikipedia

at rapper Tyga being signed to G.O.O.D. Music, I was more shocked to have seen Atlanta collective Migos also signing to management under the label; announced Wednesday. What made artists that so adamantly went independent, after (ironically) releasing projects titled “No Label” and “No Label 2,” sign to a major label? So far, no comment on their behalf.

Here are a few other artists who've ended up signing:

Dej Loaf

"DeJ Loaf live at Kool Haus in Toronto" by Eddy James Rissling for The Come Up Show is licensed under CC by 2.0.

“And I ain’t signing to no label, bitch, I’m independent” - Try Me. Less than a month after the mastered version of Dej Loaf’s 2014 hit single was publicly released, she signed to Columbia Records.

Bryson Tiller

"Bryson Tiller in concert" by Tore Sætre is licensed under CC by 4.0.

After rising to fame via soundcloud, Bryson Tiller found himself signed a few times to independent labels, and even had the chance to sign to Drake’s OVO Sound. He passed and signed to RCA Records last October.


Via Wikipedia Commons

The very eloquent (and slept on) emcee Rapsody rose to popularity after going solo, and being affiliated with 9th Wonder's independent label. You may have heard of her on Kendrick Lamar’s acclaimed "To Pimp A Butterfly," as well as Anderson.Paak's "Malibu." Just this summer, Rapsody signed to Roc Nation.


"T.I. Paperwork Tour @ London Music Hall..." by Eddy James Rissling for The Come Up Show is licensed under CC by 2.0.

Grand Hustle founder T.I. has been associated with the label for as long as I can remember. The label has seen acts like 8Ball & MJG and Meek Mill; and currently represents B.o.B and Travis Scott, among others. Despite releasing close to ten projects independently, just this February, T.I. made the shocking venture to sign both with Roc Nation, and to an ownership deal with the streaming service Tidal.


“Kehlani” by The Come Up Show is licensed under CC by 2.0.

After independently releasing “Cloud 19” in the summer of 2014, Oakland songstress Kehlani sees now well over 20 million Soundcloud plays. In 2015, she released “You Should Be Here,” and signed to Atlantic Records a month later.

French Montana

French Montana via Instagram

French Montana’s group Coke Boys (featuring Charlie Rock and the late Chinx Drugz) was signed to his label, Cocaine City Records. French has had incredible success in relevance, hit singles and album sales over the years, so much so that it’s been recognized and co-signed by fellow New Yorker, Puff Daddy. But, a little known fact is that French has only signed to Bad Boy and Epic Records, just this year.

So why do they sign, especially after rising to relevance independently?

Courtesy of the Breakfast Club

In an interview with the Breakfast club last month, Charlamagne asked Vince Staples, who has been signed to a development deal under Def Jam since he was 18, about the significance of being signed to a major label:

“...it [doesn't] mean as much as it used to. I feel like the correct use of a major label could be something special [be]cause if major labels stretch themselves as...a marketing company...or ad agency, someone who could take your ideas and help you develop…”’

Said benefits of a label as a marketing tool has brought a lot of success to fellow Cali native, Tyler the Creator, who has a distribution deal with Sony. A similar phenomenon has been occurring with Chance the Rapper, who’s picked up Apple Music as a platform for his ideas. Before, Chance had expressed being all for using Soundcloud as a platform, and even intended on releasing his project Coloring Book for free (and snagging a Grammy nomination, along the way).

Vince feels that labels are "capable of doing that." This was an interesting perspective to me. I’ve interviewed scores of artists, local to northeast Ohio, who stay independent in order to preserve their creative freedom. Perhaps the many artists who have signed are thinking along the lines of what Vince was going on about. What do you think?

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- Written By @KourtneyAri

(Guest Contributor)