On the finale episode of Bravo reality show “Xscape: Still Kickin It,” LaTocha Scott and Michael Mauldin, entertainment industry executive and father of Jermaine Dupri, had a heart-to-heart meeting, a first since the group left the music scene two decades ago. Mauldin was Xscape’s manager in the 1990s. Scott was nearly in tears on camera when she shared with him that he left her with bills she didn’t create.
Rolling out had the exclusive opportunity to chat with Michael Maudlin about Xscape member, LaTocha Scott’s solo deal, and his career.
When you went to the studio to meet with the members of Xscape about promoting a tour, what were your expectations?
I am a partner with Live Nation so I do tours, concert tours urban concert tours specializing in urban music, Black music. Hands down I wanted to be the one to produce and market the Xscape tour really because of my history with them. We were prepared to offer them good money as well. I communicate with Kandi and Tiny all the time. I had even spoken with Tamika, who said she was on board as long as the other girls were on board. I had ongoing conversations with the group members about my potential involvement. Also, I was in talks with the person managing them, which is Mona Scott-Young and they did suggest that maybe I should just come by and talk about it with the girls. I not only believe in Xscape, I know that I am good at what I do. Along the way they did say LaTocha felt a certain way about [me] not giving her proper support on her solo album. Honestly, that was the first time I ever heard about this. I was aware that this might come up in our conversation. But I was there to talk about the tour. Not something that happened 20 years ago.
So why do you think LaTocha felt like you should have supported her with her solo album – were you managing Xscape or Tocha at that time?
No, I was not managing LaTocha or Xscape at that time. I managed Xscape in their first two years. The middle of 1992 to the end of 1994. In that process I then also ran, along with Jermaine, So So Def. I took them to Columbia Records made the deal happen and yes they were the first group official artists signed to So So Def recordings. So my support of Xscape, LaTocha Scott and all the members was huge. I had no reason not to support her. However, I never really saw any of the members having a solo career at that time. Here’s the other part of that. In 1995, I was given an amazing opportunity to go to Columbia Records and serve as president of Black music at Columbia Records. I had to let go of my ties with So So Def and I had to let go of any of my ties with any of the artists that I managed as well because So So Def was an entity that was involved with us. I signed an exclusive deal to Columbia Records in June of 1995. If I had managed Tocha, I assure you, and she had a supposedly solo, so-called solo deal with So So Def and Columbia Records that was bonafide, as a manager, I should have been fired because that never came to be. When they talk about budgets and all, I’m unabreast to that. As president of Black music at Columbia, LaTocha Scott was never listed as a solo artist under the Columbia banner. Maybe there were intentions for her to be solo artist under Jermaine at So So Def; that would be a question for Jermaine. Maybe that was moving forward. I can’t really speak on that. But, as it relates to Columbia Records, which distributes for So So Def, promotes and markets all the records put out for So So Def, Tocha was never on the roster as a solo artist. She was however, a member of Xscape who was still signed at the time under So So Def and ultimately Columbia Records. So, that being said, I’m not even really apprised honestly of a quote-un-quote budget. And this is not to go back and forth with anybody. I handled Alicia Keyes, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, the Fugees and Nas – all of them were under my direction at Columbia. All I can say is that Tocha was never listed as a solo artist. The females that we had as solo artists at the time were Regina Belle and Nancy Wilson. Listen, I’m not denying she had, well maybe there were conversations about her being a solo artist at So So Def; but I don’t know anything about that.
Did Columbia records ever end up doing anything for the girls of Xscape?
In 1995 or 1996 I’m not sure of the exact time frame, Kandi Burruss and Tiny came to me at Columbia Records to talk to me about them, the two of them having, a spin-off group at the time. Crazy as it sounds, one of the songs they wanted to do at the time as the group called KAT (Kandi and Tiny) was a song titled “No Scrubs.” I didn’t even give them a solo deal or a duet deal because as I told them, I believed in him but I thought they were better as a group. If LaTocha Scott or her then manager whoever it may have been … I understand she said she could never get me on the phone. I’m not going to say she didn’t try to call me. Maybe she did. Because I did know them. And, because deep down, I consider them family. I definitely would have taken any meeting they, she or any representative of hers would have came to New York at the time time for me to take. Hands down, I took meetings with everybody. I met with Kanye West. I will make a public apology. I have apologized to her and I know they said it didn’t sound real but I am apologetic. But, I was there to talk to her about the tour, not about something that happened 20 years ago. I feel bad about everything. I feel bad. She feels snuffed out or wasn’t given the opportunity to be a solo artist. But as far as budgets and controlling budgets, and budgets that I had that was her budget, I know nothing about that. I was in control of budgets that I had that was my entire label’s budget. I wasn’t an A&R guy. I was the president of the label. I am not sure where she gets her information regarding the $300,000 from; maybe Jermaine took $300K of his own money or money he had in a So So Def bank somewhere and offered it to her and said he would record her. I’m not sure how that went down. Those kind of conversations could have taken place with Jermaine or an A&R person. But as far as what Michael Mauldin controlled or was over, I was over millions of dollars of A&R funds and market and promotion money not just $300,000. Therefore, my thing is I would have assigned an A&R person. As head of the label running the label It did not cross my desk.
Were you aware that LaTocha Scott wanted to have a solo deal?
There is no doubt about that. I knew she wanted a solo deal. Was I was aware that LaTocha Scott was potentially positioning herself for a solo deal if there was an Xscape record? I am somewhat aware of that. I’m not saying she said it had to have a solo attached to it, but I do know that was part of the conversation. I do also know that I did not feel at the time that any of the girls were ready for a solo deal. I was open to do another Xscape record though.
What did Columbia do for Xscape while they were signed to So So Def Recordings?
What we were able to do was put out an Xscape record. To my understanding, after the Xscape record came out, the group disbanded. At that time, there was no further conversations had with me or Columbia Records about that record or who would come out or break out or who would do this or that. However, I do feel bad to learn that all this time she has been sitting back being hurt or damaged or injured because we did not move forward with her as a solo career. There was an artist, Trina Broussard, she had a record on the Love Jones soundtrack. Trina Broussard, to my knowledge, was the first solo female on the So So Def label that Columbia Records identified as a So So Def artist. Then there was another girl named Kompania. They were the only two So So Def female artists identified as solo artists on the roster. I was with Columbia up until February 1999.
When did you and Jermaine’s career end with Columbia records?
Jermaine did not leave Sony/Columbia until after I left Sony in 1999. At this point and time, I was no longer president at Columbia. I was no longer involved. Jermaine (So So Def) as well left Columbia. In order to have a debt with a label you have to be actually signed to that label. Or, if your project is being worked at that label. So, when we talk about someone having a debt of $300,000 I know for a fact that no one at Columbia was looking for LaTocha or any artist to pay that back. I know for a fact that wasn’t a debt that I, Michael Mauldin, was abreast of. That all becomes a little cloudy, and again, I bring all of that up because it was after that fact. However, I do know, in 2000 or 2001, that Kandi Burruss got a solo deal with Columbia by Donnie Ienner, who was the CEO and chairman at Columbia Records, and Donnie was very clear that it was only Kandi that he wanted and that he signed. For whatever reason I don’t know. But he was clear he only wanted Kandi and no other member of Xscape. I had nothing to do with that but I was very proud of her being able to get that but it definitely didn’t fall under Michael Mauldin’s watch. This was years after Xscape was dismantled.
What would you like LaTocha to know about how you feel about this entire situation?
Again I don’t want to go back and forth. I don’t want LaTocha to think that I am lashing out at her. I just think that some of the facts are off. I sympathize with the fact that Tocha assumed she was going to to record a solo record – a record that was never put into the system. I believe someone brought up that she also had an opportunity to record under Epic Records or some other label. There was a rumor that I was blocking that which is so not true as well. Epic still fell under the Sony umbrella because Sony owned all these labels. I think the question she should ask is “Who was she using as an attorney and who was she using as a manager and did that person reach out to Sony as file a complaint?” Did anyone of business mind or of legal mind set up an appointment to talk with me? I had two assistants at the time so I met with anybody. I definitely wouldn’t have put off any artist that I used to manage and an artist where it would have benefited my son. Because you never know where that next hit record is coming from. At least in the first two or three or four or five or six or seven years, there should have been some type of legal representation that addressed this not bringing it up 20 years after it happened.
Did you leave Columbia Records on good terms?
Absolutely! I had the most successful run or period at Columbia Records. From what I previously read, it looked like I was let go from Columbia for misappropriating funds and that’s so far from the truth. We are now celebrating 25 years of history at So So Def, and yes Xscape was the first official act that kicked everything off. It’s that 25 years of history that me Jermaine, Tocha Scott, Tamika Scott, Tiny [Cottle], Kandi Burrus should all be celebrating. My history in the business goes on for 40 years but all of us are celebrating 25 years of the history of So So Def. At the end of the day, I wish them well on their endeavors. I understand the three of them are recording new music and Kandi is not and I think that’s a shame. I’m going to be very honest. A couple years ago TV One did a biopic on Xscape on the “Unsung” show and it was the most popular “Unsung” viewing ever! This is a group that never sold less than 1 million records. What they are doing right now is something they never did before. They opened up for R Kelly, Jodeci and even for Jodeci overseas. Now they are headliners of their own tours and selling out arenas and I get butterflies being excited for them. Before, they never had that opportunity because they didn’t stay together long enough. I was in Detroit for their show and I went backstage and hugged all the girls including LaTocha and told them how proud I was of them. I am so about supporting them.
Besides being a partner with Live Nation whats next for Michael Mauldin?
Right now I am always in support of the next generation and even what I’m doing now is about that. I’m about bridging the gap making sure artists particularly Black artists get their shine. When I see SWV get the Soul Train Award when I see where Xscape is right now, when I watch New Edition and when I see Anthony Hamilton still going strong or how Usher is doing. Black music, Urban music R&B music, pop, hip-hop has penetrated the entire continent. That is also stirring up the Black community in a real positive way. Because shows these days are not set up to penetrate the Black community. I just want everything I do to be real positive. Keep up with what Michael Mauldin has going on.
Well, there you have it. The truth and nothing but the truth as Michael Mauldin recalls everything that went on with LaTocha Scott and her pretty much non-existent, never took off, never left the ground “officially” solo career. What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments.