CO-CEO OF BLUEPRINT GROUP/MAVERICK
Gee Roberson’s success is fueled by his independent spirit. Throughout his career, the Bronx native has played a key role in launching the careers of chart-dominating musicians including Jay-Z, Kanye West and Drake, building artists under his managerial purview and working with major labels to propel them to the top of the ranks.
As co-CEO of Blueprint Group, Roberson brings decades of experience to the company. With executive roles at Geffen Records and Atlantic Records on his resume, he has already secured lucrative deals with Mountain Dew, Pepsi and Adidas for an all-star roster including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, T.I. and Hit-Boy. Merging his Hip Hop Since 1978 company with Cortez Bryant’s Bryant Management last year, Roberson already sees Blueprint becoming an independent force in the industry.
“We wanted Blueprint to be a multi-dimensional company with management and a label and clothing lines – a full-fledged company,” he explains. “That was the vision for the company, for it to be multifaceted and operate by itself. I’ve seen what moves the needle and know why the company can have more than one facet. And at the end of the day, the goal for us is to magnify pop culture.”
Roberson’s independent initiatives have already yielded megastars in the music industry. After evolving from intern to Senior VP of A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records in the mid-90s, he and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua co-founded Hip Hop Since 1978 in 1998, making a young Kanye West the first signee. Soon after, he welcomed Just Blaze to the roster, landing his clients the bulk of production credits on Jay-Z’s seminal 2001 album The Blueprint that reached number one on the charts and was later certified double platinum.
While at Roc-A-Fella, Roberson stirred up buzz for his clients by securing production on Freeway’s Philadelphia Freeway and The Diplomats’ Diplomatic Immunity, both certified gold. But it was with West’s career as a rapper that Roberson’s entrepreneurial spirit soared. After an artist deal with Capitol Records fell through, Roberson independently funded his breakout single “Through the Wire,” which reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart in 2003. The following year, West released his classic debut The College Dropout through Roc-A- Fella Records/Def Jam, selling more than three million copies and spawning numerous top 10 hits.
Assuming a position as head of A&R for Urban at Atlantic Records in December 2002, Roberson supplemented work on projects from label artists Lil’ Kim, Twista and T.I. with artist signings and development at Hip Hop Since 1978. He joined forces with Bryant in the mid-00s, lifting Lil Wayne out of the mixtape circuit and into superstardom. With his guidance, Roberson helped make Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III one of the top-selling albums of 2008 following its hot shot debut at No. 1 with more than a million copies sold in its first week, as well as a multiple Grammy-Award winning effort.
He applied his experience developing artists outside of the major label system to Drake, who struck indie success with his breakout mixtape So Far Gone in 2009. He signed the rapper to his management shingle and released and independently promoted the smash single “Best I Ever Had,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. From there, he facilitated a deal for the rapper with Young Money Entertainment to release his debut album Thank Me Later that has since sold more than 1.5 million copies.
Roberson, who has served as Chairman of Geffen Records since June 2011, spent the past few years signing and developing acts to the imprint. Under his tutelage, R&B singer Keyshia Cole released her fifth studio album Woman to Woman in November 2012, which debuted at #1 on the R&B charts and was one of 2012’s biggest selling debut weeks for an R&B album. More recently, he transitioned from Geffen to form the full-service record company Blueprint to be distributed through Interscope Geffen A&M.
At Blueprint, Roberson’s professional diligence and integrity has created outstanding opportunities for the roster. Since forming, Blueprint has released Lil Wayne’s clothing like Trukfit and signed deals for the rapper with Beats by Dre and Mountain Dew. The company has also formed partnerships for Nicki Minaj with Elizabeth Arden, Pepsi and Adidas, and plans to release her clothing line with Kmart and ShopYourWay.com. T.I. is plotting a return to television with his VH1 reality show “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle,” which enters its third season in April 2013.
With his company already a dominant and growing entity in the music industry, Roberson envisions Blueprint as a tiered management company that expands beyond the music. “We have never concentrated solely on music and album sales. At Blueprint the focus is on all areas of artist development and creating a lasting effect. From partnerships with Fortune 500 companies to touring internationally to securing film opportunities, we build our artists into global brands and ultimately, household names.”