Rick Rubin's Columbia is beginning to take shape as Kyambo "Hip-Hop" Joshua has been named the president of Columbia's urban department, Billboard.biz has learned. Formerly the senior VP of A&R at Warner Music Group until 2006, Joshua began in the music industry working A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records, developing the sounds of Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel and Freeway.

Joshua, who spoke exclusively with Billboard.biz about his plans for Columbia's new urban department, began his Columbia post in early July after departing Atlantic last year. “Creatively, it wasn't working out so I told them that I didn't want to be there anymore and they agreed,” the exec says.

Joshua's entry to Columbia burgeoned when the exec began shopping an all hip-hop independent label to Rubin, among other people. “[Rubin] said he'd like to invest in [the label]. And then, a few months later, he got the position at Columbia and I called to congratulate him. He said, 'If I do it, I want you to do it with me.' I always meet with him when I go to L.A., so we've been talking since March," Joshua says.

Columbia's new urban president recruited Chicago producer and Kanye West mentor Dion "No I.D." Wilson to head Columbia's A&R department. Wilson says he agreed to join Columbia because he knows exactly what Joshua and Rubin want and is confident neither will become entangled in company politics. Though Wilson's contract isn't finalized yet, he's verbally agreed to the as-yet-untitled A&R position.

"Hip-Hop and I have been close friends for a long time, and now that he's the president of Columbia's urban department, it makes sense," Wilson says.

"We're trying to create an A&R position that's both an A&R and production situation. Everything needs to be correct. I'm not just looking for a title. I want to make a useful change in what's going on, it has to be more than babysitting," he continues. "Hip-Hop told me to get writers and musicians together as well as all of the resources so we can offer artists more than just direction. I hate to use the same example everyone uses but similar to how they put together Motown. We want to put together records the old way."

Joshua agrees. "When I say the old way," says Joshua, who also manages Kanye West and producer Just Blaze through his HipHopSince1978 entertainment company, with partner G Roberson.

"I mean, when the record labels were run by music people and not like corporate executives, lawyers and others that make the deals," he says. "With Kanye, I found him and built a relationship because I really believed in him. We want to create an environment that's more music friendly and not so systematic."

Joshua says Columbia probably won't re-negotiate distribution for West's G.O.O.D. Music label because, "that's not what Kanye is focusing on right now." But Columbia will continue to work with G.O.O.D. groups like the quirky producer-mcs, Sa-Ra.

"The key is making everything make sense financially and creatively," Wilson says. "There are a lot of mistakes we don't want to make like spending more money on an artist that has a lot of spins but doesn't end up selling any records. We'd rather put money into artists that grow organically. If you look at artists like Jay-Z, they didn't jump out of the box with millions in record sales, they built their careers. People are going to be happy with what we have in the works. I can't tell you who, but it's quality stuff people will be glad to hear."

Joshua is in talks with singer Maxwell to get him on track to finish his oft-delayed album, "Black Summer's Night." Joshua has offices in New York and Atlanta, and will make frequent trips to L.A., Rubin's home base.

At press time, several calls to Sony BMG/Columbia had not been returned.