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RCA’s A&R Tariq Troy Stewart talks signing Skillibeng, contributing to Chris Brown’s ‘Iffy’, and ‘God Did’ (Interview)

Photo: Courtesy of the A&R; Designed by Richardine Bartee

Tariq Troy Stewart, the A&R at RCA Records responsible for signing one of Jamaica’s hottest artists, Skillibeng, and others, is living his best life. At 26, the Canarsie, Brooklyn-bred talent scouter and overseer, has helped to change lives by signing artists and ensuring their mental health is in tact, but that’s not all he has done with his short time in the industry. When Tariq is in the studio with songwriters composing for legends, the New Yorker might share a melodic idea that may end up being one of Chris Brown’s most-streamed records of the year: Iffy.

Born to a Black American mother from the South and a father of Guyanese descent, ‘Riq’ seems like any other kid from Brooklyn, but luck presented itself, and he started working as a music industry professional in 2018 through Wayne Barrow.

After DJ Khaled’s star-studded album release, I had the chance to speak to the busybody about his role at the RCA, the day-to-day duties, and artist relations. Here’s our in-depth conversation.


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GRUNGECAKE: Before entering the music business, what were your thoughts about its operations? Is it what you imagined?

I never knew another side; I thought it was the artist and manager. Growing up, you never see so many of the other key players that are a part of the artist’s team. It’s never like I thought it was.

GRUNGECAKE: What was the first project you were involved with that brought you the most joy? Has music changed your life? How so?

The first project was my friend’s project. What made it joyful was a goal we were trying to reach. Nothing is promised in this game, but for it to be released through a major label was like winning a championship for us. Music changed my life. I wouldn’t say the music exactly, but the people in it… my mentors Wayne, Mark, Skane, Osg, played a major role in everything that has happened to me thus far.

GRUNGECAKE: What is your involvement with Jamaican star Skillibeng, Pharrell-cosigned rapper Fnf Chop, and the first Afro-Latino and Dominican to win an acting Emmy, Jharrel Jerome? What do your day-to-day duties look like for each artist?

I signed Skillibeng alongside Skane & Karl, the other A&R with me at RCA. I signed Fnf Chop as well alongside Skane.

I oversee Jharrel’s projects. I think the day-to-day duties are the same for all the artists. It’s really just checking in and building a real relationship with them. People forget these artists are humans, and you have to connect with them, understand them, trust them, make sure you’re at the video shoot, answer those 2 AM phone calls, and make sure they’re good mentally. A lot goes into being an artist, so you’ve got to make sure that [they are] good outside of the music.


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GRUNGECAKE: How did you contribute to Chris Brown’s single ‘Iffy’ from his ‘Breezy’ album?

Giving the bridge idea while being in the studio with the co-writers. The idea I gave stuck and was used for the song.


GRUNGECAKE: How did you meet Jharrel Jerome? Are you working with him in the capacity of film or music? If music, how would you describe his sound?

I met Jharrel during a meeting, only working with him strictly on the music side. His sound reminds me of the Kendrick’s and Cole’s. H is true to himself in his music. He paints a picture for you when you hear his music.


GRUNGECAKE: And last but not least, how does it feel to be part of music history with Skillibeng’s feature on DJ Khaled’s star-studded full-length ‘God Did’?

It feels great! I’m grateful things like this happen. It reminds you that—all the work that’s put in—is the reward that comes with the work.


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