Tony Mercedes Discusses Kandi Burruss and Why the South Is Running the Record Business.

altTen years before Tony Mercedes got into
the music industry, he was making a name for himself promoting
concerts. He gained industry recognition as the director of A&R
at LaFace Records. He had the No. 1 rap record in the
country “Who Dat” (J-Money) and No. 1 R&B record “No
Scrubs” (TLC) in 1999 on Billboard, in the same week.



Was LaFace Records where you
started your career?

I started my career in Augusta, Ga. where I released my first single, “Daisy
Dukes.” I started with $2,300.00. The single became a hit and grossed
$15 million in sales. That [was] the birth of Tony Mercedes
Records.

What are some of the bigger
names you’ve worked with?

During my career, I’ve worked with some big names. I’ve taken to heart to take unknown [artists], put them together with an unknown producer and songwriter, and make a song gold or platinum from those components. My
self gratification comes from taking nothing and making something.

Would you say teaming up Kevin
Briggs with LaFace Records is an example of that?

Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs was an unknown producer who’d never released a record in his
career at that point. He had a song called “No Scrubs.” Kandi Burruss
who we all know from Xscape as well as Atlanta Housewives had never
written any big mainstream records at that point in her career. I
took those two and we lobbied with L.A. Reid, Babyface and TLC to have
that record put on TLC’s album. It went on to sell over 10 million
records. And it’s still one of the most talked about records in the
country.

Speaking of Kandi Burruss,
have you had a chance to reach out to her since the tragic death of A.J. Jewell?

No. I’ve shown interest in having a conversation with
Joyce (Kandi’s mother) and I want to sit down and see if there’s
anything that we can do to comfort Kandi. It’s a very trying
time … she needs to really remain focused, so she can continue on.
Now’s not a time for sympathy and telling her how sorry we feel. We
have to keep her uplifted and empowered, and I think music is what
does it for her.

How has
the Atlanta music scene changed over the years?

The
south is really running the record business. We’re investing a lot of
time, effort and kudos in the music. I think Atlanta needs a crash
course in business. There’s a lot of people that are doing well. I think Atlanta has a big influence on music, I’m
concerned about whether that influence [translates into business savvy]. I’m hoping and praying that it has. —cp

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