Raedio and Google's Creators Program Artists Dri Jack and Jae Stephens Share Inspiration Behind New EPs
New Raedio signees and Creators Program winners, Dri Jack and Jae Stephens released their individual EPs The Other Side and High My Name Is, respectively. Both projects released last night (July 27) were recorded through the Creators Program, an initiative powered by Issa Rae’s Raedio record label and sponsored by Google.
Both EPs represent the growth each artist has experienced throughout their lives, as well as their time spent working with Raedio, and how it has shaped them into the artists and people they are today.
Based on her postpartum experience and her journey with grief management, Jack—the self-proclaimed “Princess of College Park”—provides an encouraging story of healing and growth for her listeners to relate to. The Atlanta-based artist hopes they “are encouraged to identify what it is they have to let go of to catapult them to their other side.”
Stephens, an LA-based R&B singer, hopes to give her listeners a deeper introduction to who she is as a person and an artist. “I play on all parts of myself that I’ve finally felt comfortable enough to address on this EP,” she tells EDITION, “from my sensuality to my humor to my confidence, and I hope that these songs can inspire a newfound confidence in my listeners the way they have for me.”.
To Stephens, the project centers around growth. She explains how the first track, “What’s A Monday”, a song about living life to its fullest every single day and not just on the weekends, was actually written three years ago when she didn’t have that mentality. Today, Stephens can now relate to the words she wrote and tries to live by them every day. “It's not easy but I’m definitely doing my best, which is what the song is all about,” she says.
The Creators Program was announced earlier this year with the intention to bring more women of color into the music industry. By providing underrepresented independent female artists with more resources, the program aims to increase visibility and help make it possible for them to succeed in the cutthroat industry. Xtina Prince, Raedio’s general manager of label and publishing, tells EDITION that it is time for those in the entertainment industries to “step up and out for female artists of color” and create more opportunities for them to be heard and seen.
Xtina Prince, Raedio’s general manager of label and publishing
Prince explains that women face a lot of backlash and stereotypes in the music and entertainment industries. “I feel like female artists are stigmatized and classified as difficult or hard to work with,” she says. “But the barriers to entry and the unnecessary challenges they face contribute to this narrative and the results are you fight or flight.”
For Jack, the program gave her hope. “As an independent artist from Atlanta, receiving a well of information and resources that will further equip me for the next chapter in my career is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she says. “This program inspired me to be ready for more and reminded me that I was ready to receive more as well.”
Stephens expressed that the program was instrumental to the process of creating her EP: “Having the support brought on by this program has allowed me to freely create and carry out any ideas I’ve had to make the best music possible and share it widely, which is so exciting as a creator.”
Both winners agree that this program is important and beneficial for other rising female artists as it will provide them with visibility and resources, as well as allow them to create freely, take risks, and work with an understanding team. “It shows that there’s a safe space for them to be completely who they are and the amount of power that it holds,” says Jack.
The program selects two female artists in addition to two female composers who receive funding and resources to create their own music and complete an EP. After being selected, both artists and producers were brought to Raedio’s headquarters in Los Angeles for an artist workshop. According to the press release, the two-day artist tutorial featured various events and guest speakers in the industry, including executives in distribution, music platforms, and finance experts. The artists and producers were also invited to Issa Rae’s event series “A Sip” with rapper Blxst.
The selection process was not short, simple, or easy whatsoever, according to Prince. The Raedio team took everything about each candidate into consideration, including drive, loyalty, sound, style, and more.
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What stood out about Stephens was her loyalty to her fans as well as her growth and experience as a self-produced artist and songwriter. In addition, Stephens was noticed for her interesting sound that bridges the gap between two different genres, a difficult feat for a young artist. “She is facing the challenge of being an artist who straddles the world of pop and R&B and it’s hard to find your place when you are in the middle and Black.”
For Jack, it was her hardworking and driven character that made her a good fit for the program. Not only is she a musical artist and songwriter, but also a doula, which shows how she supports and uplifts women just like the program aims to do. “She has been working hard, playing shows and releasing music but flying way too under the radar for too long,” says Prince. “Her voice and style are incredible and we knew at the least with more resources than she had, we can start her on a path to better visibility than she had before.”
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Jack and Stephens will also play three concerts in Los Angeles (8/4), New York City (8/6), and Atlanta (8/7), courtesy of the global music company, Sofar Sounds— marking the EPs’ live debuts. The shows will also include performances from producer winners Suzi Analogue and Caroline Ho.
Raedio, Rae’s “audio everywhere company,” launched in 2019 to provide artists, producers, and creators with opportunities anywhere that audio exists, including music, podcasts, and even television and film.
This year, Raedio hopes to expand the Creators Program and continue to help underrepresented female artists make their voices heard. “We plan to build stronger relationships with our industry partners and women in music who, at their core, came into these buildings to be a beacon for artists like these women,” Prince tells EDITION. “In the end, we will foster a community of allies and decision makers with the same vision and mission to be a beacon for change in the music industry.”