By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The room is full of randomness — a Liemert Boulevard street sign, KAWS Hennessy bottles, Warhol Campbell's Soup cans, figurines, scattered sneakers, a wine cooler, the bike Kennedy used to ride to the studio.
Davis and Kennedy met late in 2009; the former had just started working A&R for Interscope and unsuccessfully tried to get Kennedy signed. "It's not that he didn't want it," Davis says of the proposed deal, which Kennedy rejected because it was a "360" — the now-standard recording contracts that taxes all of an artist's earnings. "The 360 terms may have been good for some people, but it just didn't make sense," he adds.
Davis has since joined Kennedy's camp, and they've entertained offers from numerous major labels, independent distributors and rappers with vanity imprints, they say — until it became more cost-effective to ignore most offers. "If the shit didn't look right, we not finna be calling you back," Davis says. "That costs money; my attorney costs money."
As the music industry continues to morph and atomize and struggle in the face of technology-driven changes in listeners' relationships to music, business models will continue to transform, and more and more micro-stars will emerge who can thrive without the industry gatekeepers. It's a reality that has been years in the making and, where hip-hop is concerned, those who succeed outside the major-label system will be the ones who master the DIY ethos. By going directly to a big-box store with no intermediaries, Other People's Money and Dom Kennedy are not only blazing trails, they're creating reluctant heroes.
"I'm not a entrepreneur," Kennedy says. "I'm not no business genius. I'm on my business because I want to get paid. I did this out of necessity."