EMPIRE Distribution, Records and Publishing Inc. (marketed as EMPIRE) is an American distribution company and record label founded in 2010 by Ghazi Shami  and headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices in New York City, London and Atlanta. It has released albums in various genres but it is predominantly focused on hip hop music. Companies and artists such as Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, SZA), Steel Wool (Anderson Paak, Watsky, Jez Dior), Jazz Anderson, Cody Wolfe, Kane Brown, Funk Volume (Dizzy Wright, Jarren Benton), ESGN (Freddie Gibbs), Think It's A Game Entertainment (Rich Homie Quan, YFN Lucci), Paper Route Empire (Young Dolph), Trill Entertainment (Boosie Badazz, Webbie), Last Kings Records (Tyga), Taylor Gang Entertainment (Berner, Chevy Woods), Hustle Gang (T.I., B.o.B, Trae tha Truth), No Limit Forever Records (Master P, Choppa, Romeo Miller, G5-J, Cymphonique, Silkk the Shocker), Nature Sounds (J Dilla, Devin the Dude, Pete Rock), Jamla Records (9th Wonder, Rapsody), Bad Vibes Forever (XXXTentacion) and Mastered Trax (C-Kan), Rich Broke Entertainment (Lil Duval) have partnerships with EMPIRE, with music being distributed across platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, Deezer, Spotify, SoundCloud and Rdio, along with physical CDs and vinyl being distributed to traditional record stores.
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
EMPIRE has supported the debut albums and early singles of a number of early artists, frequently signing young talent. In the Atlanta scene, they were the first label to release Trinidad James, Rich Homie Quan, Migos, Rocko and K Camp. In Los Angeles, they have distributed and/or are still distributing artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Problem, Skeme and Crooked I. They've also been involved in New York with releases from Troy Ave, Styles P, Cam'ron and Busta Rhymes. On the R&B side, they have signed artists such as Eric Bellinger, Jacquees, Jesse Boykins III, Jonn Hart and Lyrica Anderson. EMPIRE has also had several chart topping reggae albums, including reggae artist J Boog's album Backyard Boogie and Shaggy's 2013 release Out of Many, One Music.
A number of albums and singles distributed by EMPIRE have charted on Billboard, including "Taste" by Tyga featuring Offset, "Look at Me" by XXXTentacion, "All the Way Up" by Fat Joe and Remy Ma, "Broccoli" by DRAM, "Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)" by Rich Homie Quan, "Might Be" and "OTW" by DJ Luke Nasty, Malibu by Anderson Paak, Section.80 by Kendrick Lamar, "Gas Pedal" by Sage the Gemini, Phantom and the Ghost by Styles P, "#IWantDat" by Mindless Behavior, Knock Madness by Hopsin, and Stoner's EP by Snoop Dogg.
EMPIRE was founded in 2010 by CEO, Ghazi Shami, a music technology graduate of San Francisco State University and the former Director of Urban Music at INgrooves. In operating the company, Shami was joined by Nima Etminan, an MBA graduate in Media Management from Hamburg Media School. Etminan, co-founder of the hip hop platform DubCNN.com, worked to expand the mission and services, and as of 2011 was handling Marketing and A&R. Etminan now serves as Vice President of Operations and A&R.
One of the label's first charting releases was Authenticity by hip hop duo The Foreign Exchange, released on October 12, 2010. It peaked at #145 on the US Billboard 200, and #23 on the US R&B chart. Rapper ScHoolboy Q's album Setbacks, released on January 11, 2011, also charted, reaching #100 on the Billboard 200. Longterm Mentality by Ab-Soul, released the following April, peaked at #32 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers. In November 2013, Hopsin's Knock Madness album peaked at #76 on the Billboard 200 and at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.
Nima Etminan soon signed California hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar to the distribution company, and as of early 2012 EMPIRE began handling distribution for all the projects by Top Dawg Entertainment, including Lamar's Section.80. Released on July 2, 2011, the album reached #113 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums.
2012 saw releases by artists such as Slum Village, Trinidad James, Snoop Dogg, and Freddie Gibbs, several of which charted. In 2012 the label helped organize a 2013 tour between Trae tha Truth and J. Stalin. Also in 2013, EMPIRE distributed the album Still Goin In (Reloaded) by Rich Homie Quan, which was named tenth best mixtape of 2013 by Rolling Stone. Recent albums include Phantom and the Ghost by Styles P, released on April 29, 2014. It charted at #74 on US Billboard 200, and #14 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
In 2013, EMPIRE established its recording division, with Fairfield, CA native Sage The Gemini being the first signee. Sage's two debut singles "Gas Pedal" and "Red Nose" became nationwide hits, earning him and the label a platinum plaque for "Gas Pedal" and a gold plaque for "Red Nose". Sage's debut album Remember Me was released in March 2014 under EMPIRE Recordings/Republic Records. Other artists on Empire Recordings include Rayven Justice, Jonn Hart, D Lo, Emilio Rojas, Baeza, Dmac, M.I.C.Show Banga, Smoovie Baby and Priceless Da Roc. At 2014's SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, EMPIRE hosted their first official showcase, featuring performances by Slim Thug, Eric Bellinger, Problem, Dorrough Music, Emilio Rojas and the EMPIRE Recordings roster.
In 2015 and 2016 EMPIRE saw tremendous success at radio with Rich Homie Quan’s “Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooh)” charting at #1 on Urban Mainstream Radio, DJ Luke Nasty’s single “Might Be” charting at #5 on Urban Mainstream Radio, Fat Joe & Remy Ma’s hip hop anthem, "All the Way Up" charting at #5 on both Rhythmic and Urban radio charts and Colonel Loud’s “California” charting at #8 on Urban Mainstream radio.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2015||"Out of Many, One Music" (Shaggy)||Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album||Nominated|
|2016||"Strictly Roots" (Morgan Heritage)||Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album||Won|
|2017||"Malibu" (Anderson .Paak)||Grammy Award for Best New Artist||Nominated|
|2017||"Malibu" (Anderson .Paak)||Best Urban Contemporary Album||Nominated|
|2017||"All The Way Up" (Fat Joe & Remy Ma)||Best Rap Performance||Nominated|
|2017||"All The Way Up" (Fat Joe & Remy Ma)||Best Rap Song||Nominated|
|2017||"Broccoli" (DRAM)||Best Rap/Sung Performance||Nominated|
|2017||"Rose Petals EP" (J Boog)||Best Reggae Album||Nominated|
Notable artists who have released music on EMPIRE:
- 9th Wonder
- 2nd Nature
- The Alchemist
- Adam Lambert
- Alexis & Fido
- Amanda Perez
- Anderson Paak
- Andre Nickatina
- Bankroll Mafia
- Bobby V
- Boosie Badazz
- Caurey Lo
- Clyde Carson
- Craig Xen
- Crooked I
- Daz Dillinger
- Diamond D
- Dinah Jane
- Dizzy Wright
- DJ Kay Slay
- DJ Pauly D
- Doe B
- Emilio Rojas
- Eric Bellinger
- Ester Dean
- Freddie Gibbs
- Glasses Malone
- Hayley Kiyoko
- Hustle Gang
- Iggy Azalea
- J Dilla
- J. Valentine
- Justina Valentine
- Jacob Latimore
- Jake Miller
- Jarren Benton
- Jesse Boykins III
- Jim Jones
- Jonn Hart
- Keak Da Sneak
- Kilo Kish
- Lamont Sincere
- Lil Duval
- Lyrica Anderson
- Mac Dre
- Mandy Rain
- Messy Marv
- Mir Fontane
- Mistah F.A.B.
- Mitchy Slick
- Nef the Pharaoh
- No Malice
- Philthy Rich
- Pia Mia
- PnB Rock
- Pleasure P
- Rakeem Miles
- Rapper Big Pooh
- Rayven Justice
- Riff Raff
- RBL Posse
- Remy Ma
- Rich Brian
- Rich Homie Quan
- Robin Thicke
- Robb Banks
- Saba (rapper)
- Sage The Gemini
- Sean Garrett
- Selfish (rapper)
- Show Banga
- Skyzoo & Torae
- Slim Thug
- Supa Bwe
- Tego Calderon
- The Foreign Exchange
- The Grouch & Eligh
- The Jacka
- Trae tha Truth
- Travis Garland
- Trevor Jackson
- Trinidad James
- Troy Ave
- Turf Talk
- Tyra B
- Victoria Monet
- We Are Toonz
- Young Chop
- Young Dolph
- Zion I
- Zion y Lennox
|2010||ERE||Authenticity||The Foreign Exchange||Oct 12, 2010||#145 on the Billboard 200|
#23 US R&B
|2011||ERE||Setbacks||ScHoolboy Q||Jan 11, 2011||#100 on the US Billboard 200|
|2011||ERE||Longterm Mentality||Ab-Soul||April 5, 2011||#32 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers|
#73 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
|2011||ERE||Section.80||Kendrick Lamar||July 2, 2011||#113 on the US Billboard 200|
#1 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums
|2011||ERE||Charity Starts At Home||Phonte||Sep 27, 2011|
|2011||ERE||Element of Surprise||P.Watts||Oct 25, 2011|
|2011||ERE||In None We Trust||Crooked I||Nov 17, 2011|
|2011||ERE||Gift Of Gab 2||Rocko||Nov 24, 2011|
|2012||ERE||Dirty Slums||Slum Village||Mar 27, 2012|
|2012||ERE||Stoner's EP||Snoop Dogg||April 17, 2012||#31 on the US Billboard Independent Albums|
#33 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
|2012||ERE||Don't Be S.A.F.E.||Trinidad James||Sep 18, 2012||#103 on the US Billboard 200|
#8 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums
|2012||ERE||Baby Face Killa||Freddie Gibbs||Sep 25, 2012|
|2013||ERE||Still Goin In (Reloaded)||Rich Homie Quan||Feb 8, 2013||Named tenth best mixtape of 2013 by Rolling Stone.|
|2013||ERE||The Year of the Underdogz||Young Noble & Gage Gully||May 7, 2013|
|2013||ERE||West Coast Gangsta Shit||Daz Dillinger and WC||June 19, 2013|
|2013||ERE||ESGN (Evil Seeds Grow Naturally)||Freddie Gibbs||June 20, 2013||#8 on US Billboard Heatseekers Albums|
#24 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
|2013||ERE||Cold Turkey||Starlito||July 2, 2013|
|2013||ERE108||Apex Predator||Crooked I||July 30, 2013||#33 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums|
|2013||ERE110||3ChordFold||Terrace Martin||Aug 13, 2013||#43 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums|
#9 on US Billboard Heatseekers Albums
|2013||ERE||Travis Garland||Travis Garland||Sep 10, 2013|
|2013||ERE||Gas Pedal EP||Sage The Gemini||Sep 10, 2013|
|2013||ERE||O.K.E. (Deluxe Edition)||The Game||Oct 8, 2013||#89 on the US Billboard 200|
#19 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
|2013||ERE||Knock Madness||Hopsin||Nov 24, 2013||#1 on US Billboard Heatseekers Albums|
#7 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
#6 on US Billboard Independent
|2014||ERE135||Tortoise and the Crow CD||Grouch, Eligh||Mar 04, 2014|
|2014||ERE136||Keep It On the D-Lo||D-Lo||Apr 01, 2014|
|2014||ERE139||Phantom and the Ghost||Styles P||Apr 29, 2014||#74 on US Billboard 200|
#14 on US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
#18 on US Billboard Independent
|2014||ERE||Barrel Brothers||Skyzoo and Torae||May 27, 2014|
|2014||ERE141||Venice||Anderson .Paak||Oct 28, 2014|
|2015||ERE||Strictly Roots||Morgan Heritage||June 8, 2015||Grammy Award Winning : Best Reggae Album|
|2015||ERE141||Fuk Wat They Talkin Bout||Tyga||Aug 24, 2015|
|2015||ERE141||Shadow of a Doubt||Freddie Gibbs||Nov 20, 2015|
|2016||ERE141||Malibu||Anderson .Paak||Jan 15, 2016|
|2016||ERE141||King of Memphis||Young Dolph||Feb 19, 2016||#49 on US Billboard 100|
|2016||ERE256||Rosecrans||DJ Quik & Problem||2016|
|2017||ERE||Acoustic Levitation||Devin The Dude||Mar 10, 2017|
|2017||ERE||For Your Girl Too||SELFISH.||May 23, 2017|
|2017||ERE||17||XXXTentacion||Aug 25, 2017||#2 on US Billboard 200|
|2018||ERE453||Tru LP||Lloyd||Aug 31, 2018|
|2018||ERE||Dancing Shadows||Mario||Oct 5, 2018|
Notable singles released by EMPIRE
- Kendrick Lamar – "ADHD"
- Hopsin – "Ill Mind of Hopsin 5"
- Trinidad James – "All Gold Everything"
- Alexis y Fido" – "Rompe La Cintura"
- Problem – "Like Whaaat"
- Rocko – "U.O.E.N.O."
- Sage The Gemini – "Red Nose"
- T.I. – "Memories Back Then"
- Busta Rhymes – "Calm Down" ft. Eminem
- Rayven Justice – "Hit or Nah"
- Rich Homie Quan – "Walk Thru"
- Sage The Gemini – "Gas Pedal"
- Troy Ave – "About The Money"
- Alexis y Fido – "Una en un Millon"
- Colonel Loud – "California" ft. T.I., Young Dolph & Ricco Barrino
- D.R.A.M. – "Cha Cha"
- Jermaine Dupri – "WYA" ft. Bow Wow
- Kane Brown – "Used To Love You Sober"
- Nef The Pharaoh – "Big Tymin’"
- P Diddy – "Finna Get Loose" ft. Pharrell
- Popcaan – "Never Sober"
- Rich Homie Quan – "Flex" (Ooh Ooh Ooh)
- Rich Homie Quan – "The Most"
- Tyga – "Stimulated"
- D.R.A.M. – "Broccolli" ft. Lil Yachty
- Fat Joe & Remy Ma – "All The Way Up" ft. French Montana & Jay-Z (Remix)
- Lloyd – "Tru"
- Luke Nasty – "Might Be"
- Luke Nasty – "OTW"
- Wizkid – "Shabba" ft. Chris Brown, Trey Songz & French Montana
- Young Dolph – "Get Paid"
- Sammie – "Coa"
- Lamont Sincere – "Where It Came From"
- Eric Bellinger – "Be The Change"
- Mario – "Let Me Help You"
- Trinidad James – "Father FiGGA"
- Lamont Sincere – "Broken"
- Xai Beats – "Can't Relate" ft. Ellah & Young Gully
- J-HAZE - "The Body Guard"
- "EMPIRE: The Music Industry's Quiet Giant". HipHopDX.
- "J Boog – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Billboard[dead link]
- "Top Artists". Empire Distribution. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "Nima Etminan: The Man Behind DubCNN". 2DBZ. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Caples, Garret (December 11, 2012). "YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Waiting for Four-O". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "10 Best Mixtapes of 2013: Rich Homie Quan, 'Still Goin' In Reloaded'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
- "Bay Area's Sage The Gemini Signs Deal with EMPIRE/Republic Records". DubCNN.com. 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "EMPIRE Presents: YNGCA x YNGTX – The Tap Room – Austin, TX on 3/14/2014 – 25 photos, pictures and videos on CrowdAlbum". crowdalbum.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Karp, Hannah. "L.A. Reid's Hitco Ramps Up With 25 Hires and Handful Of New Acts". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
- Halperin, Shirley (2018-03-22). "L.A. Reid's First Post-Sony Signing Is a Member of Outkast (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
- "New Artists". Empire Distribution. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "Heatseekers Albums : Jul 06, 2013 | Billboard Chart Archive". Billboard. 2013-07-06. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- "Crooked I – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- "Hopsin – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-01-26.