As the Head of A&R for Hillman Grad Records—Maqubela is responsible for finding and nurturing musical talent, while playing an integral role in artist development, through music creation, marketing and promotion. As a key leader of the label that is producing ‘music you can feel,’ Maqubela holistically plans artists’ careers, and supervises recording projects and operations – whether arranging recording sessions – to serving as the conduit between songwriters, record producers, and other creatives. Moreover, Maqubela identities the vision and structure of each project. Driven by his mission to challenge the status quo, Maqubela has helped shape the musical roster and release catalog in less than a year as the new home of Hip-Hop and R&B.
Formed in March 2021, Maqubela is the liaison with Def Jam Recordings, following the joint venture partnership. Since joining HG Records, Maqubela has signed 4 emerging artists in partnership with Waithe – and being her ear for the label – 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).
Through leveraging opportunities across music, TV & Film, Maqubela works directly with Lena’s Music Supervisor Big Tank (aka Derek Thornton), and has been able to capitalize on the cultural significance generated when these worlds meaningfully intersect. Specifically, Maqubela reads scripts and finds music to embody a moment. As Showtime’s most watched series, The Chi, Maqubela and team created a TV special and visual concept album and companion feature entitled “Sounds from The Chi Concert” (a similar artistic endeavor to Beyonceì’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, Maqubela also scored 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, Maqubela 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, Maqubela created a global movement alongside GM Albert Cooke and 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.
Prior to HG Records, Maqubela joined hedge fund Fortress Investment Group LLC, to expand his skills on the startup venture front – a highly diversified global investment manager with approximately $54.2 billion of assets under management as of September 2021, for clients and private investors worldwide. In his role, Maqubela looked at SoundCloud, Spotify, SESAC, and SONGS Music Publishing – which former President Ron Perry sold before going to Columbia Records.
Previously, Maqubela also established close connections with the then budding music hip-hop collective Brockhampton, while managing early member Rodney Tenor as they found their way to explosive success. In this role, Maqubela helped Tenor develop his own music as a solo artist. In addition, Maqubela was also the Director of A&R at Columbia Records, where he signed and participated in developing acts such as the bubbling alt-R&B, and yet genre transcending singer named Q. His vision was to sign artists with a unique voice – who push the boundaries in creativity within the vein of Tyler the Creator and Adele. During his time as an Artist Manager, Maqubela co-managed the highly sought-after Memphis recording artist Jon Waltz. The rapper/singer has multiple songs over 1M streams on each major platform, has attracted interest from every major label despite not yet releasing a full album, and is anticipated to have a breakout hit.
Building upon his career in the music industry, Maqubela joined 300 Entertainment and worked his way up from an intern to Marketing Manager – an independent American record label founded by Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold, Kevin Liles and Todd Moscowitz. Maqubela was tasked to operate 300 Entertainment’s Spotify presence, in addition to create, design, and operate #RisktakerFM, a playlist initiative that led to 8,000+ organic followers on 300’s self-branded playlist. During this rollout, the hashtag #RisktakerFM became a recognizable tagline as media influencers and A-level artists such as Fetty Wap, and Young Thug shared the campaign.
We got a chance to speak with Tebs to discuss his work as the A&R for Hillman Grad Records, developing artist, ideal qualities for an artist, Sounds of the Chi concert + much more. Get into the interview audio below.
How’s Life Going.
His Role as an A&R for Hillman Grad Records.
Joint Venture With Def Jam Recordings.
Working With Lean Waithe.
His Role Previously at 300 Entertainment.
His Favorite Artist To Work With.
Top 3 Qualities Needed For an artist.
His Top 5 Artist Of All-Time.
Name One Song That Describes His Life.
What RESPECT. Means To Him.
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