Heads nodded to the alluring beats of junior Jinmi Lawson, as he performed his song “Naija o” alongside Viola Pedro and vocalist Mackenzie Howard in the Marvin Center Ballroom last Thursday night. Staged at The Organization of African Student’s A Taste of Africa event, the hip-hop song described Lawson’s life growing up in Nigeria.
“I’ve been writing since I was 14,” he said. “(And when) I went to Nigeria over Christmas break, after not having been home in four or five years, there was a lot to soak in when I got there. (I saw) a lot of things, and just felt compelled to write about it.”
While writing seems to come naturally to Lawson, he faced the same struggles that many other aspiring artists encounter in trying to get their music heard. But rather than looking for a record label to support and promote his music, he decided to start his own.
Best described as an avenue for budding collegiate musicians, the student-owned and operated Law Records is one of the newest labels to his the area. Emerging from the label Just Law records, which was founded last May by finance majors Lawson and junior Justin Lavin, the new Law Music label not only serves a new audience on the university level, but also new artists who may finally have an opportunity to promote their creative works.
“(The label) was started with the principal of exposing student talent. I write lyrics, and I know a lot of people who play instruments and produce beats. But they were just doing it for their circle of friends. So we were like, ‘there’s enough people here with talent to get an actual record label going.'” Lawson, said, describing Law Music’s unique mission and perspective on student’s music.
Law Record’s debut album, scheduled for release mid-April, will feature a 14-track mix of artists currently on the label. “We have a producer in Atlanta who makes beats for us. We have three or four different vocalists and GW rappers, (as well as) a good bit of my tracks,” Lawson said.
Law Music’s manifestation has been mostly successful with only a few hurdles. “The first album is going to be crucial to see how people respond and see how much people support the actual music,” Lawson said. “If there’s enough support, then we can go on to bigger things.”
Only a few artists are “signed” on to Law Music, with Lawson’s original hip-hop as one of its biggest works. But Lawson says that he didn’t just start the label to promote his own work. “I want Law Music to grow outside of me. Everyone who’s interested can bring different types of music-I just want people to latch on. And not just on the musical side, but also on the management side.”
Also set to launch alongside the April CD is a new revamped website, which will post news and information on current Law Music artists, and showcase all student talent.
“We’re going to create (a sidebar) on the website that will serve as a running list of students artists. It will have a place where they can put their name, links to their website, descriptions of their music and contact information,” Lawson said. “Basically it will serve as a huge database for startup artists all around the area – a musical Craig’s List.” Artists posted on this section of the website won’t necessarily be affiliated with Law Music, but will include anyone who needs help just getting started.