Talk about news coming from left field. Quality Control, a rap label home to some of the hottest acts in rap including Lil Baby, Migos, Lil Yachty and City Girls, is being acquired by South Korean Music Company HYBE for $300 million, led by HYBE America CEO Scooter Braun.
HYBE is a music talent agency and management company that is home to many K-pop acts including BTS, Tomorrow X Together and Lee Hyun. In order to expand beyond the Asian market, they created HYBE America, and their first big acquisition will be of QC.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, HYBE will be paying $250 million to buy the rap label, while $50 million in stock will be given to Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas, the founders of Quality Control. Braun, who led the deal, has had a relationship with the QC founders going back to the early 2000s.
Although HYBE America will now oversee the Atlanta-based label, Coach K and P are still the heads of the label but are now under the direction of Braun.
I understand this being a shock to many, especially rap fans. Braun is most well-known for being a manager for some of the most successful pop stars in the music industry such as Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and The Kid Laroi. Why would he want to dip his hand into the rap world when he already has had so much success working with pop artists?
It turns out that Braun, Coach K and P have a relationship going back nearly 20 years. In a statement announcing the acquisition of QC, Braun said, “I’ll never forget riding around Atlanta over 20 years ago with Coach discussing our dreams and ambitions and how we said ‘If they let us in the game, we are never going to give it back.’ Now, all these years later, we are joining forces to make these dreams a reality.”
This is something rap heads did not expect or want to hear.
I understand the disappointment, but also, I’m not surprised that something like this occurred. While many rap fans, including myself, want the industry to be about the art form, and young Black entrepreneurs putting Black artists in a position to succeed without the help of larger, corrupt organizations, that’s not what the music industry is about.
It will always come down to, “how can we make the most money?” The founders of QC saw this acquisition as a move for them to a lot of money in the future, so that’s what they did.