Bu Thiam’s A&R Chronicles: Rihanna Wants An Album Like ‘Thriller’


What’s up, this is Bu and I’ve linked up with VIBE.COM for a new blog series. I’m going to be chronicling my experiences and role as an A&R. I have big shoes to fill as the Vice President of Def Jam, and I want you all to take a walk with me on Vibe.com. I should start by letting you know a little more about what I actually do and then give y’all a little sneak peek of what I’ve been working on.

An important goal of an A&R is trying to find the next superstar! I don’t want to find the next Usher, Lady Gaga, or T-Pain. I’m looking for the next YOU! I work by the Oscar Wilde quote “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Literally, I keep the quote written on a post-it note on my desk. Anyways, once I find someone with a spark, I develop a concept and find hit records. I go to different producers and writers studios and listen to different beats and songs. I look for records that are going to bring the artist and the concept to life. I’m also developing the artists at the same time which just adds fuel to the fire, and when all those pieces connect, it makes magic.

I’m working with some of the hottest artists out right now—Jeezy, Rihanna and of course my labels own, Cyhi Da Prince. I have a close relationship with all the artists I work with. It’s important so that we can vibe and I can respectfully push them to and past their creative limits. When an artist is able to get out of their comfort zone they make incredible music. That’s why Jeezy and Rihanna’s upcoming albums are going to be out of here. With that being said, let’s get into it.

First to end all doubt, Jeezy’s fourth upcoming album, TM103, is about 95% done and I have to say it’s his biggest album conceptually and musically. People keep asking why it’s taking so long and it’s because we’re putting together a masterpiece. He’s in the studio everyday thinking of ways to make concepts, verses and beats better and really pushing himself to new heights. We did a lot of things outside of the norm this time. The producers and cameos are unexpected but at the same time they make perfect sense for the body of work. Don’t worry, though, we do still have the same producers that have produced classic Jeezy tracks. We already have one of the top five records on the Billboard charts, “Lose My Mind,” so everything is going according to plans. After it’s released people will appreciate the wait.

Rihanna is coming along incredibly. I’m trying to push her to where every song will be a hit from 1 to 12. I’m talking about NO album fillers. Our bar for this album is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. We got smashes from Stargate, Ester Dean, Mel & Mus and Rock City. We’re definitely going in with Ne-Yo, The-Dream and other writers and producers that have always been a part of her creative process since day one. She’s great to work with and very hands on with every song that’s being written and produced. She has visual concepts for just about every song. It’s already giving me the feel of a timeless album, and right now is her time.

Before I say too much, Peace, Until Next time.



Check VIBE.COM every Tuesday for Bu Thiam’s weekly blog series about his adventures in A&Ring