Arnold Taylor, Executive Who Signed DaBaby, Is a Game-Changer
Here We Come
South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor helped launch DaBaby’s career through his North Carolina-based record label. Now, Taylor is set on continuing to change the game with his roster of talent.
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Twenty-two years of experience in hip-hop culminated for South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor in 2020, when the label’s flagship artist, DaBaby, experienced his biggest year yet: a No. 1-selling album, a long-running No. 1 record and four 2021 Grammy Award nominations. Founded in 2014, SCMG, based in Charlotte, N.C., is home to North Carolina rappers DaBaby, 28; Toosii, 20; Big Mali, 19; TiaCorine, 26, and South Carolina’s Blacc Zacc, 29—DaBaby and Zacc are signed through a partnership with Interscope Records while Toosii is through Capitol Records. Taylor’s goal is to develop new talent from the Carolinas and turn them into megastars. Find out how the 48-year-old music exec plans to put on for his city.
XXL: What’s the backstory of how South Coast Music Group came together?
Arnold Taylor: South Coast started off as a marketing company [over 19 years ago]. South Coast Marketing, ’cause I was doing marketing and promotions for a lot of labels… Worked at Def Jam [Recordings], I worked at Interscope [Records], I worked at Epic [Records], but I got into the game at Blackground Records, working with Timbaland and working directly with the artists…
I got tired of breaking artists everywhere else and I feel like me being from Charlotte, [N.C.], I didn’t like the way they were represented in the city. People weren’t really listening to Charlotte as hip-hop.
Baby wasn’t the first artist I signed, but he was the right artist. When I signed him, I knew that, to me, he was mentally strong and really, like, OK, now I got somebody, an artist that I can really establish my label and be my LeBron James of my label.
What made DaBaby the right artist?
He’s a fearless guy. One thing we have in common, we never, like, back down from a challenge, you know? We ain’t scared to be like, you know, real entrepreneurs and real adventurous… It’s just his mindset… So, he’s just mentally strong and just has so much confidence and is fearless.
Who are the other artists on your label?
So, you take Gucci Mane, Jeezy, [Yo] Gotti, even [Young] Dolph, you know, [Blacc] Zacc is that all in one. But he’s younger; he’s a young trapper…he was a street dude and he kinda had his own shit going… I was attracted by his savvy.
I found Toosii over two years ago. After watching him go from like, a freestyler to a backpacker to really make songs and record himself in his house, really know how to work his own boards, pick his beat selections, super mature for a 20-year-old, 18 at the time I signed him. And just really, like, poised and know what he wants… I was just impressed by the way he held himself down and carried himself.
Big Mali. My new young spitter… Mali wasn’t the girl that was showing her body and trying to sell sex. She was rapping with the boys and putting them out. And I was seeing her, watching her and like, Damn, this chick can really rap.
TiaCorine is like an urban Doja Cat, female [Lil] Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti-ish. That’s her vibe. I call it spaceship music… She’s a dope artist.
What does South Coast Music Group represent within hip-hop right now?
We’re game-changers. Take for instance, what DaBaby wanted to do. He wanted to do an album, My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G), that he dedicated to his late brother and I supported him for that wholeheartedly. A lot of people would have been scared and told him that, “You guys are risky.” We are so unorthodox with the stuff we do that they’ve never seen it before.
Looking ahead to 2021, what are your goals?
Sky’s the limit. SCMG TV and Films. A state-of-the-art studio and compound in Charlotte, N.C., they could come rehearse, they can come, record, they come film movies and videos as well. Have all the screens and all the technology of an L.A. and New York studio all in one and have our own compound.
See Photos of XXL Magazine’s Winter 2020 Cover Shoot With DaBaby
Check out more from XXL magazine’s Winter 2020 issue including an introduction to DaBaby’s Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment label roster, an interview with South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor, who discovered and signed DaBaby, and more.