RCA Records has established a joint venture with Keep Cool, a new label founded by RCA executive Tunji Balogun, Courtney Stewart, Jon Tanners and Jared Sherman. The quartet together will sign and develop artists under the Keep Cool/RCA Records banner.
Concurrently, Balogun has been promoted to executive vp, A&R for RCA. Elevated from his previous post as RCA’s senior vp, A&R, Balogun will continue to sign and develop artists for the label and remain based in the company’s West Coast office.
With the label since 2015, Balogun has been instrumental in the competitive signings and/or development of some of RCA’s hottest artists. In addition to recent signees Brockhampton and Grammy winner Childish Gambino, Balogun has played a pivotal role in establishing the careers of Khalid, Bryson Tiller, GoldLink, H.E.R. and Wizkid. Balogun was also part of the team that helped establish the label’s partnership with Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) and SZA, whose platinum-certified debut album Ctrl scored No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Spinning off the platinum singles “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott and “The Weekend,” the album earned SZA five Grammy nominations including best new artist.
Khalid also received five Grammy nominations and a best new artist nod following the release of his first album American Teen, featuring the multi-platinum hits “Location” and “Young, Dumb & Broke.” Tiller’s sophomore set True to Self bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while Balogun performed an integral A&R role in soundtracks for the popular HBO series Insecure.
RCA chairman/CEO Peter Edge calls the Keep Cool joint venture and promotion “a natural progression for Tunji, whose passion for music and dedication to his artists has led him to become a force and a leader in the music world. Tunji has an innate ability to identify an artist’s musical genius and understands the potential of their cultural impact. This is a well-deserved promotion and I am excited to see how Keep Cool will further enrich the musical culture at RCA at such an exciting time in the label’s journey.”
Adds Keith Naftaly, RCA’s head of A&R, “Tunji has been ablaze since his first day at RCA. His hot streak has been nothing short of phenomenal. Factor in his impeccable taste, humble nature and low-key finesse, and what you’ve got epitomizes the definition of a modern A&R star. I can’t wait to watch Tunji continue to shift pop culture in unexpected ways up ahead.”
Prior to joining RCA, Balogun held A&R posts at Interscope where he collaborated with Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, The Game, Keyshia Cole and OneRepublic as well as artists signed through Interscope’s partnerships with Bad Boy Entertainment and Shady Records. He also signed Atlanta rapper K Camp and brought Los Angeles rapper Cozz to J. Cole’s Dreamville joint venture with Interscope. Balogun launched his music career as a marketing intern at Warner Bros. Records where he was hired as an assistant. He graduated from Pomona College in 2004.
“RCA is a company that prioritizes artistry, creativity and long-term vision,” says Balogun. “I’m honored to be able to continue that legacy with the launch of Keep Cool. My passion is discovering and working with artists that are slightly left-of-center, and finding meaningful ways to organically build culture around them. Keep Cool will be a safe-haven for artists and creatives who want to do things differently.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to Peter and Keith for their guidance,” adds Balogun, “and to the world-class staff at RCA for their support. I also must acknowledge all of the amazing artists and their teams for constantly inspiring me to work harder and dream bigger. I can’t wait to see what else we can do in the future.”