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Thursday, April 16, 2009

L.A. Reid speaks candidly about Clive Davis on 'Charlie Rose'

Last night, Charlie Rose interviewed the godfather of Atlanta's "black pop" music scene and current chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, Antonio "L.A." Reid. They talked about Reid's days as a drummer with the band the Deele before he and co-member Babyface went on to start LaFace Records together. ("I was a mediocre musician," Reid says.)

It runs a little over 20 minutes, but well-worth watching — mainly because Rose gets Reid to speak candidly about the heat he drew when he became the head at Arista Records after founder and icon Clive Davis was ousted.

Rose broaches the subject of Davis early on in the interview, but then eases back into small talk with Reid about the music biz for the bulk of the interview. By the time Rose moves in again with only two minutes left, Reid is so warmed up that he ends up revealing much about his regrets over how the career move went down:

"It was horrendous. Really. I mean, honestly, I'd never been in the paper before and now all of a sudden I'm in the paper because I'd done this really horrible thing — I became the president of Arista Records.

And it was really — it felt like a horrible thing; it wasn't something we celebrated. I thought it was growth, I thought it was some kind of accelerated career move, but as it turns out it was a foolish guy stepping into the shoes of an icon."

Davis and Reid have since reconciled, Reid says. And Reid is smart for doing so. You can see in the interview how he goes out of his way to speak highly of Davis, who has proven with J Records, that he's still a titan to be reckoned with. Of course, Reid hasn't done to shabby for himself since leaving Atlanta either, as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Rihanna and plenty more artists and executives who've worked for him in recent years can attest.

Definitely worth watching.

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