While Atlanta's Mayor Kasim Reed co-hosted the event the music industry was out in full-force. Those in attendance included, Def Jam's Tango Hay, Raj Jadeja of Universal Lava A&R, Kenion Johnson. National Director of Urban Promotions at Interscope, Atlantic Records Promotions Director Cannon Kent, Atlantic Records Executive VP of Promotions Morris Landy, Lindsey Lanier and Jill Tschogl of Universal Music Publishing, Warner Bros Records Director of A&R Dallas Martin, Universal Lava Director A&R Harinder Rana and Phillana Williams, Motown's SVP of Marketing & Artist Development
"I feel like we're trendsetters in Atlanta; it's just different here," said Ludracris. "You gotta change with the times and just be open to all the new sounds. It's all about supporting one another. That's what we do."
Ludaversal Truth: Rapper-actor Ludacris (left) says Atlanta is different than other places. With Chaka Zulu, co-founderof Disturbing the Peace. (Photo: The Picture Group)
The rapper-turned-actor is hoping to continue getting support from his local fanabse. He says he's working on his next album, called "Ludaversal" that he's getting ready to release in 2012.
"Shoot, life is inspiration ... just experience of life," he said. "The name is 'Ludaversal,' so it's a play off universal. I've been doing shows all around the world recently. We just left China and Singapore and Korea. That's where I draw inspiration from, traveling."
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Grammy award winning songwriter Johnta Austin - he won for his work on "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey and "Be Without You" by Mary J. Blige - said that the music scene the city produced in the late 90s was hot, but the scene now is international. And there's more soon coming, he teases.
Tuxedo Junction: ASCAP ATL Legend honorees Producer Jermaine Dupri (left) and Grammy-winning songwriter Johnta Austinwho's working with Ciara in the studio on new songs. (Photo: The Picture Group)
Austin chalks up the ATL's success to the country-fried southern hospitality. "There's just an atmosphere of camaraderie here," he says. "People can come here from all over the country, all over the world and feel welcome in Atlanta. And not saying that you can't do that in other places, but Atlanta has definitely always been receptive to outside people coming."
Right now, he says he's mostly focused on revamping Ciara's musical career. The two first worked together on her debut album, 2004's "Goodies," and right now they're in the studio working on new tunes. With her, we're just gonna take it back to basics, back to what we did in the beginning and see how that comes out," he says, noting that the debut album was chock-filled with traditional deep, bass Atlanta sounds of the moment. "The party scene is still going. I'm just try to pull it from the heart; whatever comes out, comes out, you know?"
Record exec Devyne Stephens says that he's getting ready to put out another Akon album and he recently singed a boy band named Audio to Motown/Universal. He also will begin managing Ray J's career and working to get a new album released for him.
ASCAP ATL Legends Devyne Stephens (left), CEO of UpFront Megatainment and Shanti Das, founder and CEO of Press Reset Entertainment. (Photo: The Picture Group)
"Akon's album will definitely show you the maturity, where he's grown as an artist, a writer and a producer. I like to call the album Akonic. I think it's one of his best works that he's done thus far, because he had to challenge himself," he says. "It's hard making a record when you're that successful because you have so many distractions. He's successful as a businessman, now he has to challenge himself to push to higher heights as an artist."
Ne-Yo isn't a stranger to wearing different hats. Years before he had his own record deal, he was writing radio-friendly hits for other R&B and pop singers. Now, he's pushing the envelope and adding record executive to his title. He recently signed his first artist, Los Angeles-based singer Rayvonne, to his label and is working to put out her album by the top of 2012. He's also tinkering on his fifth album, which he's tentatively titled "The Cracks In Mr. Perfect." His new role is an extention of what he loves doing best, he says.
"I just feel like the world deserves to know good talent," Ne-Yo said. "The world deserves to know quality talent, especially nowadays, they're so few and far between. So when I see somebody that has it, I'm-a do everything in my power to make sure that they get it out there to the world, because we need it right now," he says.
Of his new role as record executive, he says "I'm trying. It's not an easy role to play, I'll say that much. It's more a matter of just learning together. You know? Learning that you gotta weigh it out. You gotta be 50 percent for you, because you've gotta be true to yourself, but then 50 percent for what your fans want. You know? And what your fans want might not always be what you want, but it's about weighing it out, understanding that this is a business first."
Political-Artist-Label Nexis (from left): Atalnta Councilman Kwanza Hall; Singer, Real Housewife former X-Scape member Kandi Burruss; Kawan Prather, Senior Vice President of A&R, Island Def Jam. (Photo: The Picture Group)
Hizzoner and a Grand Hustler: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (left) Jason Geter, CEO of Grand Hustle. (Photo: The Picture Group)