MAN, THIS IS A BLOG POST I’VE BEEN WAITING A LONG TIME TO WRITE.
Let’s cut to the chase. If you haven’t heard yet, on Friday June 19th 2015, I had the privilege of signing a record deal with one of my musical heroes, Kirk Franklin.
For the last couple of months, Ron Hill, President of Fo Yo Soul/RCA (and one of the coolest and most professional dudes you’ll ever meet in this business) and Tom Drawer have been working to try and put a record deal together. In my heart FYS is where I wanted to be, but these things take time, and the Lord determines the steps.
Things started to get serious on April 28th of this year, when we flew out to Atlanta to meet with Kirk and Ron. They were spending some time there because Kirk was doing tapings for his BET show, ‘Sunday’s Best’. When our plane landed that morning, we went directly to meet them for a bite to eat. I knew I was in the right place when the first thing Kirk asked me was about my family. How refreshing. He heard my songs, he knew why we were there, but what was more important to him was Christon Gray the man, and to me, that was a breath of fresh air. The four of us had a great time and headed off to the studio.
Kirk was also filming a reality special that day, so we had lots of camera crews and stuff following us around. That made it a little more challenging to talk business, but the good news was, we were there to talk music! We played him some songs and he did the same. If at brunch we bonded as men, at the studio we bonded as artists. Issac Carree stopped through and we all chopped it up for the cameras. If it was up to me, I woulda signed right there, but the day wasn’t over yet.
On our way to the airport, we stopped to have dinner and the four of us really got down to the nitty gritty. Throughout the course of the day we had already low-key framed a deal, so when we were done eating we shook hands, exchanged hugs and promised to work quickly to create a partnership. As we got to the airport, I laughed to myself and thought, “funny, today is also the day that ‘The Demos’ dropped on The Overflow. I would have never seen this coming three months ago. God is so Good!”
Over the next six weeks Tom Drawer, Fo Yo Soul, RCA and our respective legal teams crafted the structure of what would become the final agreement. Little items here and there were adjusted, but for the most part, the original deal stayed in place. I was so grateful that after my journey over the last 10 years this is where the Lord had brought me. It all made sense.
So the contract was done, but we wanted to think of a fun way to tell the fans about it. We weren’t about to give y’all some corny press release, right?
At Tom Drawer they think Vince McMahon is a marketing genius and they are always trying to do things that would make him proud! So we went with what we called ‘the Y2J plan’ (if you’re not a wrestling fan, don’t worry about it!
We decided to leak information throughout the day through the people who had been so good to us over the last couple of months. First it was DJ Wade-O and The Overflow. We told them both on Friday morning what was going down. They put out the first round of leaks.
After that, we hit up New Release Today (f.k.a. New Release Tuesday) and gave them the next exclusive.
Finally, we gave the last one to the homie Chris Broussard.
He is way too important to be tweeting about me, but he has been in my corner and we wanted to give him the heads up. He would be the one to confirm that the announcement was indeed about signing a record deal. Hey, he was the one that leaked the news that LeBron was coming home to Ohio, so why not tell the world about another Ohio boy ‘going home’?
We blended that with the 3 Instagram posts that we placed throughout the day. The hardest part was trying to blur out the pics with Kirk so y’all wouldn’t know it was him. I saw some of you got it, and I thought that was pretty cool.
The next day was Saturday, and I was performing at Alive Fest. We worked with Tyler and Bill Graening to make sure everything was set up and good to go, but we had no doubts it would be. You know Alive Fest is going to be top notch. Shouts out to all of them for keeping the secret as well. A rain soaked day didn’t spoil the fun, as before I hit the stage we ran the video you saw above from the two giant walls at the main stage of the festival. I think my face says it all!
That was the ‘Y2J plan’. I hope you enjoyed the fun we had with it.
What’s next? Well, this is just the start, and one that I am very grateful for, but now it’s time to get to work. The label has put a lot of faith in us and more importantly, my fans have put their faith in me. I will work my tail off to ensure we can craft music that encourages, excites, edifies, trendsets, and most importantly, is fo yo soul (Zing! You know I had to get one in there)
Now, please forgive me, cause I’m about to get corny for a minute.
Thank you to Ron and the Fo Yo Soul family for making this happen and thanks to Kirk Franklin for believing in me and what we’re doing. Thanks to Tom Drawer for riding this wave with me. Thanks to Chris Taylor and Victoria Novak at TKO Lawyers for guiding the path.
The most important acknowledgements need to go to:
My family, for loving me and always supporting me. God gave me such a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter, supportive parents and the coolest brother and sister I could ask for. And to my closest friends, who are family, you know who you are, and we’re all in this together.
The fans; your reaction to this news was kinda overwhelming. I won’t let you down.
My Father in heaven; for second chances, grace, strength, and trusting me to spread His word with a pen and a microphone.