For Harlem rapper Vinny Cha$e, loyalty played a big role in his decision to turn down a deal with Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records and instead go with Epic and A&R Aaron Reid, son of chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid and a longtime friend of Cha$e. "What really enticed me was my bro Aaron Reid–just the relationship we have as friends. I trust him," Cha$e says. "[It] wasn't a big negotiation. We just wanted to do things right."
Although the contract's eye-popping price tag – $2.5 million – surely helped as well. The joint-venture deal with his Cheers Club label also allows Cha$e to retain publishing ownership. A former filmmaker for Lil Wayne and Cam'Ron, Cha$e released debut mixtape "The Plaza" in 2011 and built momentum with a stream of high-fashion-featuring videos, amassing 1.6 million views to his YouTube page.
Aaron Reid says he signed the rapper on the strength of his growing movement and relentless work ethic. "They have an amazing thing going on," he says. "That's the main reason they're here today. We all work as a team. Now, they have the machine they need behind them."
Cha$e is prepping a new mixtape ahead of his major-label debut and is also working on a line of affordable street wear. But he says these recent leaps and bounds won't mean he'll abandon the dark production and raspy, New York-centric rhymes of "Biggie and Jordans," a standout from latest mixtape Golden Army. "We're not going to jeopardize our brand," Cha$e says. "We just want to be cutting edge and push the envelope."