Mark Pitts is an American record producer, manager, and President of RCA Records and CEO of ByStorm Entertainment.[1] He has managed a number of artists and produced musical tracks for performers including Notorious B.I.G, Faith Evans, Miguel, J. Cole, Jawan Harris, Kardinal Offishall, Ciara, Chris Brown, Usher, TLC, Anthony Hamilton, CeeLo Green and Ro James. Pitts executive produced the Netflix film, Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell, co-produced Notorious (2009), and Blue (2009).[2][3]

Mark Pitts
Birth nameMark Pitts
Also known asMark "Gucc" Pitts
Born (1970-07-04) July 4, 1970 (age 53)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Music Executive, President of RCA Records, CEO ByStorm Entertainment
Years active1993–present

Pitts has worked with artists who have amassed a total of 53 Grammy Awards nominations and 10 wins.[4][5][6]

Early life and career edit

Pitts was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 4, 1970. He was first introduced to music by his grandmother, a classically trained piano teacher who began giving Pitts lessons at the age of four. Pitts spent six years of his childhood at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and later continued learning music at the High School of Music and Performing Arts, where he also studied art.

His professional music career started in the early 1990s, prior to entering Howard University, when he formed a rap group called Three Left. He intended to pitch the rap group to his friend Sean Combs who was working at Uptown Records at the time.[7] After a meeting with Combs, Pitts decided that he wanted to work behind the scenes. In 1993, he started working with Combs at his entertainment company Bad Boy Entertainment, where Pitts managed the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, and Changing Faces.[8] Pitts would also arrange for his cousin and business partner Wayne Barrow to meet with B.I.G. as well.[9] Barrow would join Pitts in managing B.I.G.[10]

Pitts opened Mark Pitts Management (now ByStorm),[citation needed] took on additional artists such as Nas, and a few years later negotiated an end to the public feud between Nas and Jay-Z. He told Essence magazine:

"I have to say it’s one of my most proudest moments. It felt good and I always believe that having the two of them sit down and (reconcile) was something that BIG would have wanted me to do and in some way I felt like if BIG ever had the chance that’s what he would have done with Tupac. At the time, when me and Nas first started working together, I said, 'We have to do something different. You're supposed to be a movement, so you need to do a song with Jay and get past all the bulls—. So I had a conversation with Jay and he was open. I couldn’t believe it was going down, and because they both felt comfortable and know my energy, and when we all got together that day, I couldn’t believe it was happening and we sat down and worked things out like men. That was definitely BIG guiding me."[11]

In 1995, Pitts moved over to an executive position at Universal Records (née Rising Tide) where he signed Philly-based rapper Tracey Lee,[12] and five years later became Senior Vice President of A&R for Arista Records, where he worked with Usher on several albums including his album Confessions[13] that was certified diamond (for sales of 10 million),[14] as well as TLC, Anthony Hamilton, and CeeLo Green. He signed Chris Brown and Miguel while at Jive Records. In 2006, Pitts was made a father for the second time, after the birth of his daughter, Jaden.

In 2008, Pitts was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, which paralyzed the left side of his face. Through therapy and an adapted physical health regime, he recovered his facial mobility and full health after six months.[7]

2011 - 2019 edit

In 2011, Pitts was named President of Urban Music at RCA Records. In his joint venture between his ByStorm Entertainment and RCA, his roster includes Kardinal Offishall, J. Cole, Jawan Harris, Miguel, Ro James & Angel.[15][16] Ro James' gold-certified single "Permission" was nominated for his first-ever Grammy Award in the "Best R&B Performance" category from his debut album Eldorado, and the single held #1 spot on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary Songs chart for ten consecutive weeks.[17]

As president of Urban Music at RCA Records, Pitts executive produced the first four of J.Cole's[18] and all of Miguel's albums.[13]

In 2013, Pitts gained major success with Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream which grabbed five Grammy Award nominations.[19] He had also shepherded Brown's Fortune, which topped the charts that year.[20]

As president of RCA Records, Urban Music, Pitts continued to oversee everything on Chris Brown, who he originally signed at Jive Records[21] and moved to the RCA roster with the Jive-RCA merger in 2011. Pitts was instrumental in the decision to release 45 songs on the artist’s last album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon, which came out November 3, 2017.[22]

Pitts executive produced the second Miguel album, Kaleidoscope Dream, which featured the single, "Adorn." That track remained at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs airplay chart for 23 weeks, making history[23] and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 2013.[4]

Miguel's War & Leisure was called "the album of 2017," by Forbes magazine. In the same article, the artist called Pitts his mentor.[24] The Billboard Top 10 album features the platinum-selling single "Sky Walker"(featuring Travis Scott).[25]

Miguel collaborated on Kygo’s single "Remind Me to Forget" on the latter’s RCA album, Kids in Love.[26] and the track received over 200,000,000-plus Spotify streams[27] and was nominated for an iHeartRadio Music Award.[28]

Other achievements in Pitts’ urban division during the 2017-18 period include platinum-selling artists SZA and Khalid, G-Eazy, among many others, and marked the 20th anniversary of ByStorm Entertainment.[26] The work of SZA, Khalid and GoldLink earned first-time Grammy nominations that year[26] and SZA's Ctrl sold two million copies.[29][30]

Pitts continued to guide the career of Chris Brown, and was the A&R of the artist's 2019 single, "Go Crazy" with Young Thug, as well as Brown's million-selling hit with Drake, "No Guidance." That track was nominated for a Grammy, and was one of the biggest-selling songs of 2019, breaking the record for the longest No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart for 27 weeks, an accolade that bested Pitts’ and ByStorm's own artist Miguel and his song, "Adorn".[31]

2020 - present edit

As the decade began, Pitts was instrumental in signing Atlanta rapper Young Nudy to RCA, as well as Brooklyn drill founders Winner's Circle and Grammy-nominated Deante Hitchcock.

In 2020, Usher made history with two No.1 singles on the Billboard Hot AC chart, "Bad Habits" in November preceded by "Don’t Waste My Time", featuring Ella Mai the previous June.[32]

In January 2021, Pitts was named President of RCA Records.[33]

In March 2021, Chris Brown reached an historic milestone when his single, "Go Crazy" with Young Thug logged the 24th consecutive week at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart. He now has had two songs with the most weeks at No. 1 in the chart’s 28-year history, with "Go Crazy" and "No Guidance".[34]

Recognition and honors edit

Based on worldwide chart data in 2005, he was named "World's No.8 A&R of 2005" by the music industry A&R site HitQuarters for that year after success in breaking new artists Ciara and Chris Brown.[35]

Pitts was featured in Crain's magazine's "40 Under 40" in 2015.[36]

On June 11, 2018, Pitts received a proclamation as an African-American power influencer from New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus (BLAC) overseen by the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio.[37]

Men’s Health magazine ran an editorial spread on Pitts in its January 2019 issue . "My diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy changed everything, and after, I began a training regime of five times a week. I’m very proud to be recognized by Men’s Health. This achievement is greater than a Grammy Award because my health is more important. I’m blessed to feel good now," he said.[38]

Selected discography edit

Year Project Artist Record Label Role
1995 "We Got It Goin' On" Changing Faces Atlantic Producer
1997 Life After Death The Notorious B.I.G. Bad Boy Entertainment Executive producer
1997 "Gitty Up" Salt 'N Pepa London Remix Producer
1999 Born Again The Notorious B.I.G. Bad Boy Entertainment Executive producer
2001 Supernova Lisa Left Eye Lopes Arista Co-producer
2004 Confessions Usher Arista Executive producer
2005 Chris Brown Chris Brown Jive Executive producer
2007 Exclusive Chris Brown Jive Executive producer
2008 Here I Stand Usher LaFace Executive producer
2009 Graffiti Chris Brown Jive Executive producer
2010 Raymond v. Raymond Usher LaFace Executive producer
2010 All I Want Is You Miguel Jive Executive producer
2011 F.A.M.E. Chris Brown Jive Executive producer
2011 Cole World: The Sideline Story J. Cole RocNation/Columbia Executive producer
2012 Looking 4 Myself Usher RCA Executive producer
2012 Fortune Chris Brown RCA Executive producer
2012 Kaleidoscope Dream Miguel RCA Executive producer
2013 Born Sinner J. Cole Dreamville/RocNation/Columbia Executive producer
2014 "New Flame" Chris Brown RCA Co-writer
2014 X Chris Brown RCA Executive producer
2014 A.K.A. Jennifer Lopez A.K.A.-Capitol Co-writer
2014 2014 Forest Hills Drive J. Cole Dreamville/RocNation/Columbia Executive producer
2015 Royalty Chris Brown RCA Executive producer
2016 Hard II Love Usher RCA Executive producer
2015 Wildheart Miguel RCA Executive producer
2016 El Dorado Ro James Bystorm/RCA Executive producer
2016 4 Your Eyez Only J. Cole Dreamville/RocNation/Columbia Executive producer
2017 Heartbreak on a Full Moon Chris Brown RCA Executive producer
2017 War & Leisure Miguel RCA Executive Producer
2018 A Usher RCA Executive producer
2019 Indigo Chris Brown RCA Executive producer

References edit

  1. ^ Carter, Caitlin (February 11, 2015). "Miguel New Album: RCA Records President Reveals Working Title, Release Date & More". Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Mark Pitts". IMDb. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  3. ^ Golding, Shenequa (February 11, 2015). "RCA's Mark Pitts Gives Details About Miguel's New Album And Title". Vibe. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Miguel". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Usher". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Chris Brown". Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b Pepper, Tracey. "Mark Pitts". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  8. ^ "My Day: Mark Pitts, President of Urban Music, RCA Records & CEO of Bystorm Entertainment". Billboard. September 20, 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  9. ^ Searchlight Pictures (May 8, 2008). "NOTORIOUS: Producer Wayne Barrow Q & A part 1". YouTube. Retrieved April 11, 2024.
  10. ^ "We've Read the Screenplay for the Notorious B.I.G. Biopic". Vulture. February 25, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2024.
  11. ^ "Mark Pitts: My Brother's Keeper". Essence. December 16, 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  12. ^ Whitener, Connie. "Tracey Lee, the hip-hop attorney, delivers sound advice". AXS. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Mark Pitts". Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  14. ^ Ellis, Stacy-Ann (March 24, 2014). "11 Albums To Get Diamond Certification". Vibe magazine.
  15. ^ "Grammys 2015: Beyonce, Jay Z, Kanye, Pharrell Hit Up Roc Nation Pre-Awards Brunch". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Hudson Mohawke says he's working with Miguel". Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  17. ^ McDonnell, Brandy (March 31, 2018). "Listen: Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ro James drops new EP 'Smoke'". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Mark Pitts". Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  19. ^ Caulfield, Keith (September 26, 2012). "Grammys Deadline Spurs Early Vinyl Releases From Cher Lloyd, Muse". Billboard. Los Angeles. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Conte, Richard. "Watch Usher And Nicki Minaj Tear The Club Up In 'She Came To Give It To You' Video". Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  21. ^ Bacher, Danielle (March 2, 2017). "Chris Brown's Downward Spiral: Insiders Open Up About His Struggles With Addiction and Anger". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  22. ^ "Stream Chris Brown's New Album 'Heartbreak on a Full Moon'". Billboard. October 31, 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  23. ^ Anderson, Trevor (October 4, 2018). "Ella Mai's 'Boo'd Up' Sets Record For Most Weeks at No. 1 Among Women On R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  24. ^ Baltin, Steve (December 4, 2017). "Why Miguel's 'War & Leisure' Is The Essential Album For 2017". Forbes. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  25. ^ Suarez, Gary (May 5, 2018). "Miguel Goes RIAA Platinum With 'Sky Walker'". Forbes. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  26. ^ a b c Mitchell, Gail (April 17, 2018). "RCA's Mark Pitts Celebrates 20th Anniversary of ByStorm Entertainment". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  27. ^ "Remind Me To Forget". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  28. ^ Howard, Annie (January 9, 2019). "iHeartRadio Music Awards: Cardi B, Drake, Ariana Grande Lead Nominations". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  29. ^ "GOLD & PLATINUM". Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  30. ^ "Billboard's 2018 R&B/Hip-Hop 100 Power Players Revealed". Billboard. September 27, 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  31. ^ Newman, Melinda (January 14, 2021). "RCA Records Promotes Mark Pitts to President, John Fleckenstein to COO". Billboard. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  32. ^ Anderson, Trevor (December 4, 2020). "Usher's 'Bad Habits' Hits No. 1 on Adult R&B Songs Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  33. ^ Ingham, Tim (January 14, 2021). "SHAKE-UP AT RCA: MARK PITTS IN AS PRESIDENT, JOHN FLECKENSTEIN PROMOTED TO COO". Music Business Worldwide. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  34. ^ Anderson, Trevor (March 11, 2021). "Chris Brown Now Has the Two Longest Running No. 1s on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  35. ^ "Interview with MARK PITTS, A&R at Jive Records for Ciara (US No.1), Chris Brown (US No.1)". Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  36. ^ "Mark Pitts". October 12, 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  37. ^ Toure, Madina (June 12, 2008). "Lil Kim Honored by NYC Council for African-American Music Appreciation Month". Observer. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  38. ^ McCarron, Anthony (January 8, 2019). "Pain Meds for Weed The Intense AM Workout That Fuels a Hip-Hop Tastemaker". Men's Health. Retrieved 19 January 2019.