Every decade, a handful of artists take over the world in a matter of years. This year, a new star has ascended from Soundcloud to make a run at that fame. The 19-year old Atlanta born artist, SoFaygo is making his case to be at the forefront of Atlanta music. But behind every young and rising superstar are teams of people strategizing their next move, managing the weight that comes with fame, and believing in that artist from day one. Cue SoFaygo’s manager, Lamaar Jaswal. Just 20-years old—London born—New Jersey raised, NYC living—Jaswal is quickly becoming a prominent figure in the music industry. After admiring SoFaygo’s music from afar, Lamaar’s experience has allowed him to navigate his artist throughout the industry. As rumors swirl about his signing, SoFaygo is on the lineup for 2021 Miami Rolling Loud and working on a new album, Pink Hearts. Lamaar Jaswal gives us insight on their journey together, and the future that lies ahead.
At what point did you decide you wanted to work in the music industry?
I went to college in 2019, I was doing seven classes, working a full-time job at Barney’s NY. I was burning myself out, but I always loved music. Then I met my mentor, Avery Landau, (one of two managers for NY artist Pasto Flacco). He was working at Atlantic. I was thinking about quitting Barney’s and about a week later I got my internship at Atlantic Records. It changed my life. I learned a lot about A&R and Business Affairs. Landau taught me how to structure deals, conduct data research, and communicate with artists.
Tell me about your time with Atlantic Records and Alamo Records.
I was bringing them a lot of acts. I brought them NLE Choppa and Pop Smoke extremely early on in their careers, but they ultimately passed on them. I learned everything from marketing and A&R. Fast forward to fall of 2019, I did A&R admin for Alamo Records. That really showed me the cost of working with artists. That went until summer of 2020, that was around the time I met Faygo. Elektra picked me up as a consultant so I’m back in the Warner family.
What were your biggest takeaways from interning?
It’s extremely valuable to intern for a label at some point. 99% of artists must go through a label at some point. Not only will you build relationships, but you’ll really learn how the business works from the inside out. This helped me manage Faygo during the “After Me” album. My intent was to move him from SoundCloud to the mainstream. I cleaned up his social media, made it look more presentable. All things I learned from Avery and my internships.
Have you been challenged in the industry because of your age?
I think it’s been more beneficial but it comes with it’s challenges. Music is a youth-driven industry. All the artists and people I’m connecting with are a lot more comfortable with me because I’m young and I understand where they’re coming from in terms of music, rather than A&R’s and managers that are significantly older. I’ve been challenged plenty of times though, like I don’t know a lot. As if I’m a kid. I’ve been doing this for two and a half years now, so I know a bit of what I’m doing but I’m always learning.
When did you become aware of SoFaygo’s music and how you built a relationship?
Going back to Avery managing Pasto Flacco, he and Faygo had a lot of music together as they were part of the same SoundCloud community. 2019 was when I heard a couple of songs SoFaygo had been featured on, that’s when I was like, “Who is this kid?” He reminded me of Chris Brown. He was still in Atlanta and I was doing other stuff, so the thought never came to work with him. Eventually, I just had to get connected but nothing ever came about it. Then, I was with Alamo and I brought him to an A&R meeting, but they passed on him. I never got the ability to work with him through a label, which was a blessing in disguise. Fast forward to August 2020, Faygo was staying two blocks away from me in New York. Pasto picked me up and we went to kick it with him, got some studio time in. At the end of the week, Faygo asked me to manage him or recommend a manager. I wasn’t exactly looking to manage at the time, but the opportunity was too big to pass on.
Faygo was recently named to the First on SoundCloud Roster for 2021. What does that recognition feel like for the team?
It’s been great. We’ve expected attention to start rolling in. The thing is with Faygo, he’s a superstar already. It’s just a matter of letting the world know. Obviously, he came up on SoundCloud early in his career. It was a platform that really launched his career. So, to work with them and show SoundCloud love, it was special.
In a recent interview with Our Generation Music, Faygo said “After Me” was a game changer. How do you approach the next project with such high expectations?
I think with every artist there’s pressure with the next project. Faygo doesn’t let that stuff get to him. He knows what he wants to do musically and elevates with time. He has a long career ahead of him. At the end of the day, he’s 19 and understands the evolution of an artist, so he’s ready for what’s next. The next project is named “Pink Hearts.”
Faygo has one of the most unique fan bases I’ve seen in recent years. Like a cult following! I’d even compare it to true Playboi Carti fans that allowed him to experiment on “Whole Lotta Red” and embraced it. Do you think that strong fan base allows him to experiment with his sound?
He has the best fan base in the world. Some of the fans are so wild they’ve even found my school email which I don’t have public anywhere. They’re extremely dedicated. Faygo takes note of that. He knows when he releases something, he has true and loyal fans to hold him down. The Carti fans are a great example. It’s a Breathe, Eat, Sleep Faygo mindset. He has over 60+ fan pages right now. I believe in him so much and to see so many other people believe the same thing, it’s great. From a manager’s perspective, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
The internet is really taking over music. Can we expect any Twitch streams or NFT’s from SoFaygo?
That’s something we were thinking about the other day. We’re always thinking of new and creative ways to engage with our fans. Whether that be an NFT or his own currency. My idea was a Faygo coin. His fans could buy in and somewhat own a piece of his growth. It’s still being regulated and the public needs to learn more about NFT’s, but it’s always possible. As far as Twitch, you never know. Faygo is a big gamer on the low. He’s good at NHL, 2K and Roblox. I could see something like that in the future.
You said earlier that SoFaygo is a superstar, you just gotta let the world know it. Is that something you’ve strategized through fan pages and creating buzz?
I’ve always had this thing with me, I have a gut feeling when I know an artist is going to be huge. I think Faygo being himself is attractive to his fan base. A lot of artists will try to plan out Instagram posts and he’s just someone who’s not really on the internet like that. He’s just being him. It’s authentic. His fan base is too. We haven’t really strategized anything in that sense. It’s come naturally.
TikTok is known to help artists go viral and really get their name out there. What was the response to “Knock Knock” going viral and does that make your job easier?
It makes it easier for me but Tik Tok is a blessing and a curse. There are songs from 10+ years ago that are going viral now. Record labels are scrambling to get a piece of it. It’s great for an artist and it can really make their career, but it can also box you in as a “Tik Tok artist.” Which can be great for some people, but that’s not who Faygo is. It was a surprise, “Knock Knock” went viral. I thought it would be something from “After Me.” Faygo isn’t even a TikTok person, so it was crazy to see. There were no labels behind it. No money being pumped in. Just genuine love from our fans and new ones.
As his manager, what will it take to make SoFaygo a household name?
Only time will let him grow to be a household name. He knows what he wants to do with fashion, creative spaces and music. We’ve seen the growth he’s had in less than a year. It’s all about consistency now. It’ll only be a few more years until he’s an A-list name like the Jay-Z’s and Beyonce’s of the world. We have a couple big announcements coming up within the next year in terms of fashion and brands he’s worked with regarding modeling campaigns and such.
Artists have been rebelling against the Grammy’s for years now. Through social media, it seems to be more public, and the movement has ramped up lately. Are the Grammy’s still the pinnacle of musical achievements?
I think the Grammys are a great organization. They’ve made some decisions that are questionable and that the public doesn’t agree with. With the whole youth movement in music, I think it is becoming a little less important than we think. Drake said it best. If you have kids who know your songs word for word, or people working 9-to-5 to see your shows live, you’ve already won. A Grammy could never compare to that feeling of recognition from people worldwide. With that being said, the Grammy’s are still doing their thing. Not everyone gets nominated for one, that’s what makes them so special.
A lot of fans are asking for a Lyrical Lemonade x SoFaygo collab. Is that in the works?
It’s something we’d love to do. Lyrical Lemonade is essentially A&R. They pick and choose who they work with and anyone who they’ve picked has seen drastic amounts of success following that. It’s something I think is coming but it depends on the right timing and track.
There’s a lot of rumors about a Playboi Carti feature. Can you offer us any insight?
We have a lot of features coming. I know a lot of people in Carti’s camp. That could be one of the many features we want to do. It depends on a lot of things, but it must be organic. It’s not something we want to force.
Would you say your major in Fashion Business Management has translated towards your career now?
Not really. But I met a lot of creative people that I’ve worked with later in music. The fashion and music industries go hand in hand. I’m actually working on signing an artist from FIT for Elektra—the label I currently work for.
What song or album made you fascinated with rap?
When I was three or four, my dad would play In Da Club by 50 Cent. I just wanted to listen to it over and over again. I played piano growing up…it gave me a better view on music and the ability to see things through an artist’s side as well.
What advice can you offer the next generation?
It’s all about being you. There’s a difference between being inspired by someone and copying someone. Everyone copies each other in some way. But being you is going to take you the farthest. You don’t want to play a fake role in your music career. Just be yourself—learn and adapt. The youth runs the world, especially in the arts.