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CHRIS LIGHTY, September 22, 1999

First of all, I see the Violator album is currently No. 34 on the Billboard 200 and No. 7 on the R&B chart. Not too bad after five weeks. It peaked at No. 1 on the R&B, so is that meeting all the expectations? Is everything going well with that?

"Yeah, everything's going real well. We're gold on that album. It's got 800,000 out there, so we're doing good. Last week was a bad week because of the hurricane, but I'm happy about the success on it."

Most definitely. Without a doubt Q-Tip's "Vivrant Thing" kind of took that late summer by storm and had a buzz throughout the nation, so you've got to be pleased with that.

"Definitely."

Speaking of that, what's the next project off of that album?

"The next single is probably going to be the Flipmode record."

Just in time for that upcoming Rah Digga album.

"Yeah. Exactly."

How did you get your start in the music business?

"I initially starting carrying crates for DJ Red Alert."

So you really started from the bottom level and worked your way up.

"Oh yeah. And then because I was friends with his nephew -- Mike G., and them started a group called the Jungle Brothers, and I was the road manager-slash-DJ-slash-take-out-the-garbage-and-make-it-happen man. So that spawned relationships with everyone -- Tribe, De La, Black Sheep."

So what kind of spawned the whole Violator move?

"You know, once I got that running, I decided that I needed to make a real strong statement, and I linked up with Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons over at Rush Management. That was almost the blueprint for me learning the ins and outs of the music industry. And then while doing that and helping Lyor in the day-to-day business of Rush Management, I formed Violator as an independent label and got distribution through Relativity Records. We were like before the Latino craze became a full-blown AIDS like it is now. We had The Beatnuts and Fat Joe because they had good music, not because they were Latino. And actually it was a little against the curve, because no one was really thinking about signing Latino rappers at the time. We've been able to spawn a bunch of good things with that. Then moving Violator as a label back into the fold as Lyor grew as a label executive with RAL (Rush Associated Labels). We brought it back into the Def Jam system with Warren G as the first album, and then Foxy Brown, and now Violator the Album after Foxy's sophomore album."

Now how has the whole Tommy Boy absorbing Penalty affected you?

"Well, we're gonna see what the effect is. It's too early to call it. We're hoping for the best."

Who are some of the new artists you have coming out under your management?

"Q-Tip's new album will be out in late November. C-N-N will be out in the first quarter of 2000. There will be a new Busta album in the second quarter of 2000. Mobb Deep will be dropping another album in the first quarter of 2000 and a solo album by Prodigy. You know, we're out there working."

How are things with Mysonne working out with his legal troubles?

"We're working on his appeal right now. He should be out by November."

So it's definitely still in the plans to get his album out there?

"Yeah. It'll be out for spring."

As far as Violator, what are some of the short-term and long-term plans?

"Short term is to get as many gold and platinum plaques as possible. You know, just keep the general buzz going and the awareness of the company. And keeping it a company awareness, rather than a Chris Lighty or Mona Scott awareness."

Right. So there's never going to be a Chris Lighty album...

"Nah."

I feel you. As far as this Violator album, there was talk that this was like the first in a series of different types of albums.

"Yeah, we're gonna do a couple of different albums -- one every year. It won't always have the same look. It'll be in the compilation format, you know, to break whoever needs that extra push, and hopefully we can break a couple of new artists. It's a great platform for our artists to be on a gold album, to get 500,000-plus and scan 750,000-800,000 at the end of the day on this project. It's a great venue to break new artists."

-- Mr. Freez, The 411 Online


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