Albert Cooke always had a relentless passion for discovering new music and working with emerging talent. With over a decade+ experience within the music industry, Cooke continues to shepherd the careers of today’s rising stars and is committed to ushering in future generations of underrepresented talent and voices across all mediums.
As the General Manager for Hillman Grad Records— Cooke imparts his cultural footprint leading a record label producing ‘music you can feel.’ In this role, Cooke manages the growth and development and day-to-day operations — overseeing album creation, sales projections and management of budgets across A&R, marketing, distribution, promotion, and production. In this position, he is also responsible for the expansion of the label and operations.
Formed in March 2021, Cooke helped Lena Waithe with the back-end deal structure for the label along with scouting new talent prior to the exclusive joint venture partnership with Island Def Jam Recordings, where he currently serves as the lead point of contact. To create a unique sound, Cooke seeks artists that are honest and vulnerable in their music. “It’s always refreshing to hear authentic perspectives in a burgeoning genre,” said Cooke. “We want their music to invoke an emotion — a smile, laugh, or reminiscent of a person.” In addition, Cooke identifies and develops artists in hopes of priming them for long term success, which include emerging artists – 2x GRAMMY®, ASCAP Award-winning R&B artist Davion Farris, singer/songwriter/actress Jai’Len Josey (Syncs: The Chi, and Twenties), CS Armstrong (sync: Bel-Air), and female rapper & actress Siya (syncs: Twenties, and Step Sisters). In fact, Cooke is building sustainable careers, not viral moments, in the streaming era.
Through leveraging opportunities across music, TV & Film, Cooke has been able to capitalize on the cultural significance generated when these worlds meaningfully intersect. As Showtime’s most watched series, The Chi, Cooke and team created a TV special and visual concept album and companion feature entitled “Sounds from The Chi Concert” (a similar artistic endeavor to Beyonceģ’s Lemonade) and helped score the soundtrack and bring this vision to life. The production included a celebration of music and spoken word, with performances from BJ The Chicago Kid, Jai’Len Josey, DeCarlo and Davion Farris. Mirroring his love for music and storytelling, Cooke also helped score the soundtrack and music supervision for the #2 comedy TV series on BET, Twenties, and The One And Only Dick Gregory (album inspired by Showtime’s documentary film) — with an all-star collection of soul, R&B, and hip-hop music that includes: Lupe Fiasco, Big K.R.I.T., Cory Henry, Talib Kweli, Terrace Martin, Statik Selektah, Danni Baylor, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Def Jam’s own Bobby Sessions, among others. Furthermore, Cooke oversaw the soundtrack and music supervision for MR. SOUL!, music inspired from the award-winning documentary, featuring an all-star soundtrack, with classic soul/R&B tracks from Donny Hathaway, Patti LaBelle, Hugh Masekela, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Delfonics, and Kool & the Gang. The feature has received honors – 2021 Critics Choice Award, as well as a NAACP Image Award winner.
To ensure Black creators have a seat at the table, Cooke and team created a global movement alongside global beauty brand Sephora, entitled SEPHORA: HALL OF BLACK BEAUTY– a visual celebration of the contribution Black creators are making in the space of Beauty with live performances by Jai’Len Josey, Symphani Soto, Kari Faux and Leven Kali.
We got a chance to speak with Albert to discuss upcoming projects for Hilman Grad Records, Working with Lena Waithe, his Top 5 artist + much more. Get into the interview audio below.
How has the journey of developing Hillman Grad Records been?
Tell us a bit about the exclusive joint venture partnership with Island Def Jam.
How did “Sounds from The Chi Concert” come about?
How has it been working with Lena Waithe?
What upcoming projects should we expect from you all this year?
How was it working to develop artists on the roster?
What do you guys look for in an artist that would make a great fit at Hillman Grad Records?
Top 5 artist of all time.
Name one song that describes your life at the moment?
What does RESPECT. Mean to you?
More from Interviews
RESPECT. Interview: Hd4president Talks New Single ‘Rollin’, Upcoming Project, His Top 5 Rappers From Baton Rouge + More
Louisiana-based rapper Hd4president released a new single and visual for his track “Rollin.” The track cruises along on a head-nodding beat …
RESPECT. Interview: Head of A&R for Hillman Grad Records, Tebs Maqubela Talks Developing Talent, Working Alongside Lena Waithe + Much More
As the Head of A&R for Hillman Grad Records—Maqubela is responsible for finding and nurturing musical talent, while playing an integral role …
Lil Migo, the rawest emerging voice of Memphis’ burgeoning hip-hop scene, whose landmark tracks "No Love In My Heart" and "Letter 2 The Industry" have …