The answer: Not even one.
That’s just not the way for the guys at MMG. The group is made up of rappers Kendrick Lamar and Nas, with guest appearances by Young Buck and G-Eazy. MMG employs a unique way for its artists to share their ideas and work in secret, making the process of meeting, collaborating, and eventually releasing an album seem more like a collaborative session than a solo effort.
“All we’ve done is do everything [on a recording],” Lamar says. “We don’t have an album yet. We just got a couple songs. I did another verse for him. We do it all. It doesn’t matter how much music I’m making, you need to be there.”
“The secret is the collaboration,” he continues. “Everyone knows that.”
There isn’t much to discern between this creative collaborative session and the process most record deals would call “proving” an artist’s worth with the traditional publishing, marketing, management and promotional efforts in the traditional record industry.
“You know what I’m thinking? Is this like when you go to see the doctor, have a blood pressure monitor checked or how about how about a stress test?” says Lamar. “Let’s sit right here and see what it takes to get there. And when the time comes for the album [release], what about having the best lawyers? Are you ready? Are you ready for what’s to come?”
“It’s not like you need to show me a contract,” says Nas. “It’s like, just tell me the basics.”
“When we started working together [in 2005],” Lamar explains, “I did more of [the producing] and there was less of [the writing],” a process that, when Lamar has his heart set on a track, it’s not like he’s putting together a bunch of ideas he’s going to put out. He can’t tell us anything about the album. He’s got no script or no story. It’s just us putting together tracks and having the time from recording.”
This collaboration doesn’t just happen in the studio; it actually started in the back of his car at home, while he drove some music with his buddy Big Boi back to his apartment. “There was this beat called ‘Love Game (Remix)’, and I had the lyric, or the melody idea,” he says. “Nas was like, ‘Dude, you get it?
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