Hip-hop agent Brent Smith is out at WME, weeks after he was suspended for reported behavioral issues.
“Following an investigation based on complaints of bullying behavior by Brent Smith, WME and Brent have mutually decided to part ways,” reads a statement from the agency. Smith, 55, represents Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and John Legend.
Smith did not respond to a request for comment from Billboard.
Smith, age 55, was a powerhouse at WME who has also represented Frank Ocean. the reunited Soundgarden/Pearl Jam supergroup Temple of the Dog, James Blake, Wiz Khalifa, ASAP Rocky, Big Sean and Cat Stevens. His exit follows the high-profile departures of music co-head Marc Geiger.
Smith got his start in the business thanks to a chance foosball game with Frontier Booking International head Ian Copeland (also brother of The Police drummer Stewart Copeland and manager Miles Copeland). Copeland gave Smith his first agenting job, where he worked with a top-tier acts including Iggy Pop, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Morrissey, R.E.M. and, most significantly, Sting. When Smith was profiled by Billboard in 2016, the married father of two described the gig as a “grad school” education.
Smith is known for being detail oriented, intense and sometimes caustic with promoters he works with, but is also respected as the ultimate hip-hop insider whose A-list clients often opened the door to new signings and opportunities for him. Other relationships didn’t work out: Smith repped Snoop Dogg for 20 years until the two had a falling out in 2019.
Smith’s suspension comes as the agency business struggles to find its footing in the wake of COVID-19 — prior to the pandemic, Endeavor had canceled a long-planned IPO, frustrating agents and department heads at the agency who had agreed to take less pay in past years in exchange for stock in the company.