Sickamore “Target Demographic” (URB Magazine 2007)

(Click photo to enlarge. Read below.)

By William E. Ketchum III

One of the most documented facets of the music business is the gap between record executives and their target audience. Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine and Warner Music Group’s Lyor Cohen may know their shit, but as much as they study and research, they’ll never be the young’ns that watch their artists’ videos, buy their albums and attend to their concerts.

But Sickamore, the 22-year-old Director of A&R for Atlantic Records, feels he can relate.

“My favorite line I like to use with people [is], “I am the demographic you’re looking for,” the youngster says. “…It doesn’t get more in the [record-buying] demographic than a 22-year-old kid from the projects of Brooklyn.”

Sickamore has been supplying audible treats since high school, using his obsessive music collection to run a business of selling custom CDs to classmates and opening his own record store at 17. As his mixtape hustle expanded, he started getting freelance A&R jobs from different record labels.

But in December 2006, Sickamore got a call from a bigger label. Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, whom Sickamore had met upon linking Brooklyn MC Saigon with superproducer Just Blaze, took notice of Sickamore’s grind and offered him the Atlantic job. “It wasn’t like I had to intern, go get coffee or send in resumes,” Sickamore remembers. “It just kind of came, because I was already doing what I was supposed to be doing.”

These days, Sickamore balances work between his office job at Atlantic and work for his own company, I Can Make You Famous. Upset with other labels’ lack of commitment to building artists, Sickamore says that this summer, he plans to start a recurring event where he hits 15 major cities, finds new artists, showcases them in New York and signs one.

“When you’re young, you feel like you’re unstoppable,” Sickamore says. “It’s when you get older in life [that you think], “Maybe I can’t do this stuff.” … Right now, I believe I can do all that crazy stuff. When I’m still young and naive, I want to take over the world.”

He has plenty of time.