Kareem Manuel could’ve been the second artist on Collision Records, but by the time that he decided to join Swoope, the label lacked the resources to represent another artist having already signed Christon Gray, Alex Faith, Wit and Dre Murray.
“It was my fault that I didn’t sign,” Manuel told Wade-O Radio.
Manuel played a key role in the formation of the W.L.A.K. collective. When Yaves performed at a show with him in Chicago years ago, Yaves asked Manuel how he felt about the state of Christian hip hop.
“I’m kind of bored with it right now,” said Manuel.
Yaves cured his boredom.
“This is what you need,” he said, handing Manuel a copy of Swoope’s debut album, “The Zoo.”
Manuel instantly became a fan.
“Oh, what is this?!” he asked, listening to the LP for the first time.
Manuel connected with Swoope on Myspace and helped him put “The Zoo” on iTunes and Amazon (“You got to get this out. People need this.”). The album then ultimately changed hands between Manuel, Sho Baraka and DJ Official before finding a home with Collision founders Adam Thomason and Joseph Prielozny who signed Swoope.
The young label executives then aimed their sights to sign Manuel, who had impressed them with his recently released project “Until Then,” but they weren’t the only label attempting to add him to their roster. Several other labels including Word Records were already in talks with Manuel.
“Some of the people I was around, they really wanted me to go with the bigger label because they theoretically would’ve been able to give me more money, they had more success and Collision was just starting,” said Manuel. “I really wanted to sign with Collision, but I didn’t have enough confidence in my own decision making to give up what I felt like was control for somebody who was in the same position I was.”
Talks progressed between Manuel and Word, but eventually broke down. When the hip-hop artist finally chose to accept Thomason’s offer, it had been rescinded. Collision had just added its fourth emcee, Dre Murray.
“Signing artists is like having more kids,” Thomason told Wade-O Radio. “You got to make sure you have enough money to provide for them.”
And Collision didn’t.
Through what Manuel admitted was a mistake, he learned a great deal about trusting and being confident in the Holy Spirit during decision making processes.
“I’m not blaming anybody else,” said Manuel. “It was my lack of decision making. I trusted too many people. I wanted everybody to agree because I wanted everybody to be happy and you can’t do that all the time.”