Rap Basement: Which artists are you representing at this time?
Zach Katz: At this particular time I’m representing primarily producers.
Rap Basement: Ok, so only producers. Can you talk about each one?
Zach Katz: Basically, I represent Hi-Tek. Hi-Tek is a producer who started out with the whole Rawkus movment and helped to shape the Rawkus movement several years ago with Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. He and Kweli had a group called, Reflection Eternal. You know he really kind of helped forge that whole sound. When I started working with him, you know we tried to take the foundation and name he already had and expand it and go national with it instead of just being somebody who does stuff for Rawkus. So he came out west and we sat down with Dre, sat down with Snoop, and people out here. They embraced him and he really grew. He became a national producer doing tons of records for Dre and his whole camp, for Snoop, for all the people out here. Connecting back to New York to work with, Busta. You know he’s somebody that works pretty much with everybody. He’s really, really close with Dre, has a song deal with Aftermath. He’s got like four or five joints on this upcoming Busta album. He’s definitely doing his thing. He’s got two joints on this 50 album that just came out. Also, two with Xzibit. Has a joint each with Snoop, Styles P, Lloyd Banks, and D12. He’s constantly working; that and Hi-Tek Productions.
Rap Basement: Who is signed to Hi-Tek Productions?
Zach Katz: Hi-Tek has an artist signed by the name of Dion. Dion is featured on the Styles record that’s coming out. He’s featured on the 213 record, also the Busta record that he has with Nas. A lot of majors are really trying to pick this guy up right now.
Rap Basement: How did Dion become involved with Hi-Tek?
Zach Katz: Well Dion is from Cincinnati. Tek actually threw a talent search in which Dion had won and it’s been on since.
Rap Basement: It’s great Tek puts out to the local people.
Zach Katz: Yeah he does, he definitely does.
Zach Katz: Tek is doing his thing in that respect. He is also working on a solo album, that will include people like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, some of the guys from G Unit, Snoop, and Raphael Saadiq.
Rap Basement: When is the release date for his solo album?
Zach Katz: Looking at end of year.
Zach Katz: Then I have Denaun Porter a.k.a. Kon Artis of D-12.
Rap Basement: Denaun, he should receive more credit than he does.
Zach Katz: He definitely should but he’s got big shoes to fill. He’s somebody who’s part of D12. D12 in itself was an off shoot of the whole Eminem fame and it’s hard to compete with that. On the producer end, Denaun jumps on a lot of the same projects that Dre produces. When you’re on the same album that Dre is on; again it’s hard to compete. But he’s done well. He’s done P.I.M.P for 50, and worked with The Game. He’s got the new Young Buck single that’s come out and is also featured on. He sings also.
Rap Basement: Oh, he sings?
Zach Katz:Yeah, he sings on most of these songs he’s been doing lately. He’s also working on a solo project right now where he will be singing and rapping. Should come out at the end of this year or top of next and will probably go through Interscope or Shady Records.
Rap Basement: How did you become involved with Aftermath Records?
Zach Katz: I became involved with Aftermath through Hi-Tek; they were interested in working with Tek. So, Tek came down and I started working with Dre and those guys. Basically, Rakim at that particular time didn’t have a manager so they (Aftermath) were like, “hey you’d be great with him”. So I met with Rakim and started working with him, and I was there pretty much the entire three years that Rakim was with Aftermath. Unfortunately the situation didn’t work out; creative differences with Rakim and Dre. But it really solidified my relationship with those guys. They went their separate ways and ultimately Rakim and I did as well. But it was a good experience.
Zach Katz: The other person I represent is a very up and coming producer by the name of Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem. He’s worked with 50, Lil Kim, Obie Trice, Fabolous, Snoop, Foxy Brown, Stat Quo, who’s also of Aftermath.
Rap Basement: He is also a trained Pianist, is he not?
Zach Katz: Yes, he’s a classically trained Pianist. He also went through the Jazz circuit but is really into hip hop.
Zach Katz: J.R and myself also have a production company called, NetWorth Entertainment. We have a girl named, Jasmine Lopez, signed with us. She’s been featured on the Fabolous album through J.R. Has also been featured on Snoops album, and has worked with Lil Kim, and Stat Quo. She’s definitely getting her shine.
Rap Basement: Seems the artists you represent have done very well.
Zach Katz:Have been focusing on Producers right now, really trying to work with people who not just want to make beats and push beats out. But who want to mold an artist and sign their own writers, build production houses/record labels.
Rap Basement: Living Proof Artist Management, how long has that been around, and is it your sole company? Also, are you based solely out of Southern California?
Zach Katz: Yes it is, and its been around about 4 years. I am based out of Southern California but I travel back east about every other week.
Rap Basement: How things with Denaun Porter and Runyon Ave?
Zach Katz:It’s coming out great. It’s probably going to be through the Interscope system, Shady, etc. It looks like we’re doing the Pharoahe Monch project through Shady and Runyon Ave.
Rap Basement: What’s in store for Runyon Ave?
Zach Katz: Pharoahe Monch, Denaun’s solo project. There is the group Runyon Ave, and also the Brigade which is Denaun and Von (Kuniva) from D12.
Rap Basement:When you began working with Hi-Tek, did you have your own company at that time?
Zach Katz:No, I started as a music attorney actually and did that for 5 years. Hi- Tek was my client at the time and was going through management changes. He and I decided to try the management thing and that’s how the whole thing took off.
Rap Basement:With the successes you’ve had, did you see yourself here at this point in time?
Zach Katz:You know you just hope. Do you really know? No. You just have to believe and work really hard. It’s a very tough business.
Rap Basement: Reading your press release, you stated “Navigating through the music business is much like living in the Matrix”. It made a lot of sense being without a guide you’re pretty much lost.
Zach Katz:Yeah, its true. You see a lot of people that are talented but are just wandering around. There are these little secrets; it’s like a little secret society. You know in 90% of the business the money is being exchanged by certain people.
Rap Basement: In reference to producers, are you looking to sign anyone in particular?
Zach Katz: You know honestly I’m always looking but right now with as full as my plate is it would have to be something that would just blow me away.
Rap Basement:What would that be?
Zach Katz:It would have to be someone who’s very focused and has a sound completely different than anyone else I have on my roster.
Rap Basement:Working on any personal projects?
Zach Katz:Pretty much I’m focusing only on my clients right now. I’m focusing on my clients and helping them to be on all the right projects, far as producing for other artists. Making sure whatever artists they have signed or whatever project they have through their production companies really get off the ground.
Rap Basement: In regards to expanding, do you have a vision you’d like to see in the near future?
Zach Katz: What I’d like to see if I were to expand or join with anyone else, it would have to be people that have the same kind of game plan and motivation as I have. I am definitely open to it but I am very discriminative who I get into business with, especially on a partnership basis. Your partner is literally a reflection of you.
Rap Basement: How did you become involved with Stones Throw Records, and Landspeed Distribution?
Zach Katz:When I got out of law school I had two choices, go on my own or work for someone else and I decided to go on my own. My first client was DJ Revolution from the wake up show. Through word of mouth I was referred to Planet Asia. Planet Asia referred Stones Throw and somehow I met Bob Harry from Landspeed when they existed. Literally, it was word of mouth.
Rap Basement: How was it being the CEO of the European music distribution powerhouse, Groove Attack GMBH?
Zach Katz:It was a good experience but a transitional time in the industry. Groove Attack, their plan was to have a mid size record label. Unfortunately, it’s a situation where you either have a huge record label that’s enormously funded or you’re doing it out of your own bedroom; it’s hard to kind of do it in the middle. Initially, the kind of units they were selling warranted having more of a bedroom kind of operation * During his two years as the Company’s CEO, Zach Katz successfully oversaw the production, distribution and marketing of several critically acclaimed albums, including the solo album from A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg. Phife’s album went on to sell more than one hundred thousand units in the United States alone.
Rap Basement: What would your advice be to someone who is trying to make it in the music industry?
Zach Katz: I would advise to be focused and get ready to sacrifice your life, because in this business it will take up most of it. This is a business where the purse strings are closing up a little bit and most people in the business now are in it for the right reasons. People that were in it just to party and for the glamour are kind of gone because you can’t afford to be in it unless you’re making money.