What Is Empire Records? + New Partnership With Hit-Boy & Surf Club

What Is Empire Records? + New Partnership With Hit-Boy & Surf Club

Recently, EMPIRE Publishing announced a partnership with star producer Hit-Boy. The deal includes his musical collective, Surf Club, which includes three producers who have all worked with impressive artists.

Empire Records


Updated By: Chris Samuel (1/27/23 at 3:08 pm)

Music distributor EMPIRE announced its partnership with star producer Hit-Boy and his production collective, Surf Club. Hit-Boy is the leader of the Surf Club, a group of artists, producers, and writers. The partnership allows Hit-Boy and the Surf Club to build a formidable publishing team for EMPIRE’s analytics, financials, and royalties.

EMPIRE has also dealt with the deaths of several rappers, including PnB Rock and Lotta Cash Desoto, who both passed away to gun violence last year.

The deal included three producers in the Surf Club — Gary “G. Dav” Davis, Jesse “Dr. Blum” Blum, and Randy “Bandz” Holmes. 

The production credits between the producers are for artists such as Nipsey Hussle, Kehlani, Twenty-One Pilots, YG, Nas, Rage Against The Machine, and more. 

Hit-Boy has worked with many artists over many genres and has produced recently released albums such as Nas’ Kings Disease 3 and The Game’s Drillmatic: Heart Vs. Mind.

Fans may not know the history and controversy around EMPIRE Records. Throughout the years, the record label company released music from various genres by dozens of the most popular artists. After losing seven artists over the past few years, many may wonder: What is EMPIRE Records?

EMPIRE Distribution has been home to dozens of artists for over two decades. 

Here are five things about EMPIRE that music fans may not know:

1. San Francisco Headquarters 

EMPIRE Distribution, Records, and Publishing was founded by Ghazi Shami and is headquartered in San Francisco. 

They also have New York, Nashville, London, and Atlanta offices. 

2. A Hip-Hop-Focused Label 

EMPIRE is known for releasing projects from young artists, particularly in hip-hop. 

The label was the first to release projects from Trinidad James, Rich Homie Quan, K Camp, and the Migos

All artists had singles and albums on the Billboard charts. 

3. Blackground Records Affiliated

EMPIRE deals with Blackground Records, which re-releases discography, most notably Aaliyah.

4. Top Dawg Entertainment

Nina Etminan, the A&R who helped sign Kendrick Lamar,  is also signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, distributed by EMPIRE

Other artists such as SZA, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul are also signed to Top Dawg Entertainment.

5. 7 EMPIRE Artists Killed 

EMPIRE has lost seven rappers since 2018.

These rappers include XXXTentacion, King Von, MO3, Drakeo The Ruler, Young Dolph, and  PnB Rock. Another artist that adds to the list is Lil Uzi Vert’s signed rapper Lotta Cash Desto

Lotta Cash Desto was shot and killed in Houston, just one week after PnB Rock’s passing. In the past, other artists that died while on the label included singer Aaliyah and Tupac Shakur.

PnB Rock’s murder shocked hip-hop. After his death, a TikTok video of comedian Katt Williams resurfaced.

The “Pimp Chronicles” comedian brought up insurance policies labels have on rappers and how much money they could make from a rapper’s death. 

One speculation on social media circles around a conspiracy that labels kill artists who go independent. PnB Rock released an independent mixtape earlier this month.

  • Chris Samuel

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