Lena Waithe launches record label with Def Jam

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From the Emmys to the Grammys — Lena Waithe is getting into the music business.

The producer and actor has partnered with Def Jam Records to launch her own label, Hillman Grad Records, she announced Wednesday.

“Music and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. And I think that’s because musicians are the storytellers we love the most … At Hillman Grad Productions we believe in identifying and amplifying new talent, and we want to continue to do that in the music industry,” Waithe said in a statement.

Music industry vets Tebs Maqubela and Albert Cooke have joined the label as Head of A&R and General Manager.

Insiders told Page Six that Waithe and her team are already working on signing two brand-new artists.

“She’s committed. Lena is very passionate about music and artistry and storytelling and giving artists the platform to have real careers,” the insider said.

Waithe has proven she has a knack for spotting talent. In 2019, she helped put the public on to Chika, now a Best New Artist nominee at the Grammys this year.

“She invited her to perform on ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ [when she guest-hosted the show] before she was even signed to a label. It illustrates how plugged-in she is when it comes to discovering artists,” the insider said.

Waithe also announced her big news on Instagram, writing: “As a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having a record label… Never give up on the desires that keep you up at night!”

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