Jesse Edwards & Rahim Wright Launch 740 Project; Announce Wiz Khalifa & Future SXSW Show
"Not a label, but we could be."
As music mini-scenes seeminly appear out of nowhere and are reblogged into the ether hours later, maintaining relevancy in today's tech-culture tornado seems like an impossible task. So it's surprising that, at a time when everyone's just trying to grab onto that one set of coattails, the newly-formed 740 Project's client list rolls out like a magician's scarf: Migos, YMCMB, OG Maco, Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang, Lil Boosie, K Michelle, Kevin Gates and on and on. They describe themselves as "not a label, but we could be." In actuality the business is something along the lines of a marketing agency that artists and executives trust with branding, strategy, A&R, art direction and anything that falls under product management. Oh, and it should be said: 740 Project is two people.
Those two are Jesse "Punch" Edwards and Rahim "The Dream" Wright, who had been sharing an office on Atlantic Records' 28th floor, where Punch says they grew tired of "updating Facebook pages and figuring out ways to partner with RapGenius." While there, they had each built up massive rosters on their own, separate from one another or from their hired responsibilities. Rahim brought in Migos, for instance. These side hustles had become too lucrative and interesting compared to their nine-to-five jobs. Late last fall, finally fed up, Punch headed to chairman/COO of Atlantic Records Julie Greenwald's office to quit. "Not until a certain point" was Greenwald aware of Edwards' and Wright's side jobs.
"Once Julie found out there was a way for Atlantic to still be incorporated with what we do, she was like, 'Yo, I got a plan,'" Edwards recalls. "By the time I sat back down at my desk to tell Rahim, she had it all figured out." Though the two men sat mere feet from one another, neither had thought to combine forces until Greenwald had a genius moment: They'd work together under Atlantic's roof but as a new company; they could come to meetings but Atlantic would simply be another client, joining Beats by Dre and Quality Control, allowing them to keep the artists they'd partnered with from outside labels. Rahim -- who had already picked out an apartment in Atlanta -- laughs about having to cancel his move: "Julie and Punch made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
Both industry veterans, Edwards' and Wright's connections run deep. Co-founder of 300 Entertainment Todd Moscowitz could be seen talking business with them at Wale's The Album About Nothing listening party in NYC on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Wright flips through stories about breaking the Migos through the pages of The Fader ("Coach K called up and said he needed help") and Edwards recalls K Camp's slow build paying off ("That was the first time I saw an artist go from ground zero like that"). They've taken control of Rockie Fresh's new direction, A&Ring his upcoming record. Circles of managers and executives surround artists, but instead of causing conflict, all teams put their faith in the 740 Project. Wright explains, "Lil Bibby has his own team, but they'll entrust us to work a project because we get it out in the correct manner and we do it the fastest. That's how we launched Usher's record with Migos ["Still Got It"]." Edwards describes the company as a "hybrid between a digital marketer and a publicist," saying how "we don't just go by the formula; we do whatever it is to make the record happen."
The 740 Project -- its name drawing inspiration from the famed 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan's home to the super-rich and ultra-powerful -- is trying to live up to the namesake. In a couple of weeks, they'll have their own showcase at SXSW, bringing in names like Wiz Khalifa, Too $hort, Father and Future as well as a shocking number of surprise guests. They just keep building bridges, or at least extending them further out.