Just one year after taking over as president of Def Jam Recordings (a position last held by Shawn Carter), Joie Manda has made another power move. The Brooklyn native who racked up three No. 1 albums (by Nas, Rick Ross, and 2Chainz) in just four weeks last summer is heading to Cali this weekend to become President of Urban Music at Interscope. When asked about the secrets of his success, he didn’t give up much. That’s lesson one.
As told to Rob Kenner (@boomshots)
You’ve been at Def Jam for a year, doing big things. What made you decide to make this move?
I’m excited about what’s happening at Interscope. They’re rebuilding it completely right now. And I’ve known John Janick for some time and obviously Jimmy Iovine is one of the top music men to ever do this. And I was excited about the opportunity. And I would like to be west coast based, and that’s a good thing. I like building things. That’s alluring to me, the fact that you can build something and make it better and fine-tune it. That’s what I love to do.
You’re a New York guy. Why do you want to be West Coast based?
Listen I am a New York guy. I was raised in Brooklyn and I love it. I don’t want to offend any New Yorkers, but L.A.’s not bad especially if you’ve gone through a long New York winter.
Is that rebuilding specifically in the urban department?
John Janick just came over and they’re rebuilding the whole company.
There’s a lot of heat on Top Dawg Entertainment right now. How excited are you to be working with that team?
I think they’re the most important movement in music right now, and I’m super excited to work with them.
A lot of people didn’t really see Kendrick Lamar coming, and now he’s killing it.
Yeah, but he delivered with that album—he made a classic. The movement is real.
Do you think you’ll be the man to bring Detox to the world?
[Laughs] Well I haven’t started yet, so I don’t know where that’s at.
How soon do you get started as President?
I start there Monday April 1.
Have you been in talks with Interscope for a while, or was this something that came about quickly?
It happened very suddenly, over the last few days.
It’s a vote of confidence in all the things you’ve accomplished at Def Jam—three number one albums.
They’re looking at me to continue that at Interscope, so I’m excited.
You had a strong relationship with Ross and Maybach Music Group. How do you feel about parting company with them?
It is difficult. I was here for God Forgives, I Don’t. I won’t be here for the next Ross album. But even though I’m not the president of Def Jam anymore, I consider Ross a brother. He’s like a family member to me.
What do you attribute your success to? What is your approach to this game that has served you so well?
Well I guess I can be a little bit braggadocious cause this is hip-hop music—when you play with skill, luck happens.
OK, but what is the skill? Is it how you work with artists? Is it how you deal with the business?
I think it’s growing up in hip-hop music and knowing it and understanding it. I don’t mean to be cliché, but I’m a fan first. Like when Kanye makes a song, I’ll wait up till 3 in the morning. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll stay in my car and I’ll leave the radio on so I can hear a new song from Young Jeezy or Kendrick Lamar.
So this is not just a job to you.
Nah, nah, nah.