Slaiby roared into 2017 on the strength of The Weeknd’s Starboy -- which spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and saw its title track open the year atop the Hot 100. He kept the momentum going with the subsequent Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour, which grossed $80 million. Just as impressive, he also engineered the best year of French Montana’s career: “Unforgettable” spent 16 weeks in the Hot 100’s top 10, and the two partnered with Global Citizen and Mama Hope to help build a hospital in Uganda, capping another year of charity work for the Lebanese executive.
How would you describe the past year?
Strategy and timing are the main focus for me when releasing new projects. The first time I heard the song “Starboy,” I knew it was going to be the biggest song of our lives. Abel [Tesfaye, The Weeknd’s given name] is a genius when it comes to music and vision, [and] “Starboy” is a reflection of that. “Unforgettable” was not only one of the biggest songs of the year but it also changed so many lives. In 2017 we took risks and we delivered.
What made “Unforgettable” so special?
The key was going to Uganda and shooting the video there with the Triplets Ghetto Kids, who inspired French, which led to launching the Suubi Hospital Mission. Where I come from, I never thought I would make it this far, let alone be able to help build a much-needed hospital with the capacity to serve over 300,000 people in need.
How do you build on that success?
I love to see our artists continue to use their influence positively to help people who need it in a major way. Keep making great music, stay close to the fans and what they want.