Following the death last year of Chicago rapper FBG Duck, and the recent charges against five alleged street gang members in connection with his killing, the already tainted reputation of the Chicago rap scene suffered another blow.
In an effort to change that perception of his city, the always positive NLM Geno recently launched an independent record label, Campaign Music.
Geno has already signed two Second City artists, Kid Codeine and LA Lamourt, and is seeking to provide job opportunities for other local hip-hop and R&B artists, among others. He also wants to help artists learn about different aspects of the music business.
NLM (Never Lose Motivation) Geno talks about his goals for The Campaign, his hopes of setting a positive tone in Chicago and much more in an interview with Zenger.
Percy Crawford interviewed NLM Geno for Zenger.
Zenger: How is everything going?
NLM Geno: Everything has been great. Life is a roller coaster as usual, but sometimes you gotta sit back and enjoy the ride. Take the twists and turns that it brings to you.
Zenger: Manifesting your own destiny comes with a lot of work. It seems like you have been very busy getting things going.
NLM Geno: Definitely man. I barely sleep. Most people are on a 24/7 schedule, I have been on a 25/8 schedule.
Zenger: Tell us about Campaign Music and the things you have going on with your new label.
NLM Geno: Most definitely. Campaign Music, right now we have a trifecta of artists, me included. I got Kid Codeine, who just dropped a new single. He’s out there in Los Angeles, California. He wavy as hell, man, he’s turnt up. Both of my artists are from Chicago, but Kid Codeine is just out in LA. LA Lamourt just did a show. We are working on his new release, as well. We just trying to keep the ball rollin’ and just really show what The Campaign is, what it really means, and the energy we are trying to put behind it. I’m definitely stamping those two on our new beginning. We just bout to go crazy, man.
Zenger: You have been an artist for a long time. What made owning your own label an aspect of the music industry you wanted to get into?
NLM Geno: Overall, I’m just passionate about the business, music and everything. It started with me just loving the pen and the pad to me just really wanting to expand. It really just came with artist development. What I saw was, a lot of artists that were in my position, weren’t getting that development. I analyzed everything about my career, figured out where I wanted to expand at and wanted to put my own spin on things. I started with a team and I still have that team, but my personal endeavors, I wanted to expand on what I had.
It all stems from my first mix tape turned album, “Get It Campaign.” That’s where “Campaign Music” actually came from. Now that I have artists who are wholeheartedly passionate like I am, that’s ready to run things up, I have something good on my hands.
Zenger: Is this label strictly signing hip-hop acts, or can we expect some R&B singers and other genres as well on the label?
NLM Geno: You can definitely expect some R&B to come out of Campaign Music. We’re just waiting for that right sound, that right artist. I’m definitely looking to add females to the roster, at least two. I’m not really rushing things right now, but I got my eye on a couple of people.
Music is a lifestyle for me. I’m trained in hip-hop, but I have an ear for everything. As much good music as I can create in terms of artists bringing something different to the table, we are going to run with it, we’re going to multiply it, and make the best of it. That includes all genres.
Zenger: Will it be centered solely around Chicago artists, or are you looking to expand outside of the Chi?
NLM Geno: It’s going to start at home until we really get that expansion and get those other connections. I definitely got some people down South and on the West Coast. I look at it like this: We get some different people on different coasts on board, and we take over the country. You gotta aim big. At this point, I’m let’s go hard or let’s go home. And I ain’t going home until I got about five of ’em to go to.
Zenger: That blue check from Facebook must mean a lot to you because the grind hasn’t been easy. How did it feel to get that verification from the social media giant?
NLM Geno: It was a great feeling. It actually came all of a sudden. I wasn’t really focused on it when it did happen. But it was a nice congratulations through social media. For people to open their eyes and really see this guy is really working. It’s a lot of things in the music business that, consumers, listeners and fans can’t really see. They don’t really know how hard the work is behind the scenes, especially when it comes to marketing and promo and things like that. So, to get that salutation and to that verification lets me know that the work is being noticed, and that inspires me to keep working. I really just want to kick it into high gear. The proof is in the pudding and the proof is in the results.
Zenger: Your last work, “Open Book,” shows your consistency as an artist. Consistency is obviously key for you — how have you mastered that aspect of your craft?
NLM Geno: You always want to keep a hold of the people that you have paying attention. You don’t want to lose those people, so consistency is always key. It comes with that marketing and promo work, it comes with constantly dropping new music, it comes with branding.
You have to be able to give people a guarantee on what you have. You always want to guarantee people that you will be there for great music, sensible music, motivational music, and all those purposes to push us forward in life. And I enjoy what I do for a living. Music is a vibe for me. All of those things are equally detrimental in pushing this thing forward. The moment that you fall off or present something they aren’t used to getting from you… that’s not to say you can’t evolve, but it’s way harder to bounce back once you lose your core audience.
Zenger: Now that you have the label and you’re still a successful artist, what else can we expect from you?
NLM Geno: Right now, I’m looking at things as a gateway. As I’m mastering music and reaching new heights, I’m constantly sponging and learning new things. I definitely want to get into more lucrative business opportunities that can reach beyond music, but still tie into it at the same time.
I actually got an endorsement right now with a clothing brand called, Zah Life Clothing. Shout out to those guys. They keep me well-dressed and you can find their merchandise at www.zahlifeclothing.com. Of course, I got the smokers theme with my “Papers 2 Papers” album. I’m an avid smoker, so I’m looking for more opportunities to expand on situations with that as well. I’m just an open book. I’m keeping an open mind and open hand for ideas and opportunities.
Zenger: Chicago is looked at in such a negative light on the hip-hop side of things. But you bring a different kind of energy to the table. Is that deliberate?
NLM Geno: Most definitely. The thing about Chicago is, although there is a lot of negative things going on, there are people just like me, and the vast majority are doing positive things. You can’t just shine a light on a city like that because of our history because I can guarantee you there are a lot of good things going on. We just have to keep going with it and striving until we get to the point where you can’t ignore these positive things.
Zenger: You can’t control the entire city of Chicago, but how important is it for you to play your role and continue to inspire and now employ people and give them a better situation?
NLM Geno: It means everything. When you have a voice, and you have people that actually listen to you, you stepped into a position to be a leader. I don’t want to lead anyone off a cliff. I want to lead people to the promised land, whatever that is to them. I want people to get to it.
I never want to intentionally lead people in the wrong direction. With music, especially hip-hop, there are a lot of things that can be said to try and keep it real that can directly or indirectly influence people. I try my best to be wary of that.
Zenger: Campaign Music, give me the short-term goals for your company?
NLM Geno: Within a few years, I want to be way more relevant. I want the company to be bigger and eventually be a powerhouse in Chicago. I want to let people know as far as the indy [independent] artist is concerned, we still have major labels out there, but the name of the game is independent right now. I want to be a prime example of what it means to be independent and show people that you can get out here and chase your dreams and achieve your goals. You just have to take the steps and continue to progress.
Zenger: Good luck to you, your label, and your artists. They are in good hands. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
NLM Geno: I just want to let everyone know; new music is always on the way. “Get It Campaign 3,” my next album, will be coming soon. My new artists will definitely be featured on there. It’s about to go crazy. I appreciate all the love, I appreciate all the blessings, and third time is a charm. Let’s get it.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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