Between his dual roles as president of urban music at RCA and CEO of ByStorm Entertainment, a joint venture with the label, Mark Pitts, 44, rode into 2015 with 10 Grammy nominations and a third consecutive Billboard 200 No. 1 album, 2014 Forrest Hills Drive, by ByStorm management client J. Cole. Now he’s rolling the dice on multiple acts, including Miguel and newcomer Luke Christopher, while overseeing an RCA slate spiked with new releases from Chris Brown and Tyga, Charlie Wilson and Usher. “I’m trying to build my own LaFace,” the Brooklyn native says.
How did you react to the Grammy noms?
The one that struck a nerve was Mali: Known for his gospel work when I signed him, my goal was to bring him into the middle. He’s up for best urban contemporary album with Chris Brown, Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé and Jhene Aiko…What I set out to do is happening.
J. Cole had the biggest-selling week of any R&B/hip-hop album in 2014 without a formal single.
I have to give all credit to Cole. A lot of people were nervous, but he stood his ground and we supported him.
What’s the latest on Miguel’s new album?
We’re 90 percent done. Its working title is Wild Heart and we’re talking second quarter. He’s tired of people asking, “Who are you? Do you like girls?” He tells me, “I want everyone to know I am wild, funny, edgy and love women. I need this album to connect.”