Justice Baiden Speaks on Significance of Authenticity
Justice Baiden Speaks on Significance of Authenticity

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By Lisa Marie

November 12, 2023

Love Renaissance, LVRN, is currently a powerhouse within the music industry. With artists such as 6LACK, Summer Walker, Westside Boogie, dvsn, and plenty more under their guidance, the Atlanta-based record label has more than its fair share of hitmakers. Started more than a decade ago by college friends and Atlanta natives Justice Baiden, Carlon Ramong, Tunde Balogun, Junia Abaidoo, and Sean Fomoso McNichol, LVRN has developed into an organization that has found itself in position to pioneer the future of music. Justice Baiden in particular, is reshaping what modern artist development looks like, prioritizing much more than simply what is being put on wax. We recently spoke to Justice about what his priorities are when it comes to developing an artist, his love for R&B music, and the importance of being a dreamer. 


When did you first fall in love with music, and when did you know that you had a special ear for identifying musical talent?

Justice: I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember, I’d say maybe since I was 3 or 4. I first realized that I had a special ear for it during my sophomore year of high school. I found myself almost curating the sound of what everyone who was around me was listening to. 


As a native of Atlanta and first generation immigrant, how do you weave your identity into the work that you do?  

I think it’s unconscious. It’s based on how I see the world. With my lineage and where I grew up, these things come out without me even knowing, then one day you look up and realize it. It’s all unconscious. 


How did you meet your LVRN Co-Founders Carlon Ramong, Junia Abaidoo, Sean Fomoso McNichol and Tunde Balogun, and what sparked the creation of LVRN? 

We all went to college together. We were all striving for the same goals, but separately. The idea of working on a singular artist kind of brought us together, and that’s how we ended up forming the tribe. We believed that to accomplish what we wanted, it was going to take a village, and we stood on that and will continue to stand on that. 


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LVRN’s roster of artists is overloaded with talent, some of which includes Summer Walker, 6lack, Westside Boogie, and DVSN to name a few. As the Head of A&R at LVRN, what are your biggest priorities when developing an artist, and how do you go about successfully guiding an artist’s career? 

I think it changes over time. There really isn’t like a “one size fits all” with this. How I go about it is spending the time digging to find out who their most authentic self and message are, and helping to polish that. Now more than ever, an artist really has to have a definitive point of view, and my job is to pull that out as much as possible in their music, how they visually communicate, and overall represent that when they walk into these rooms. That’s kind of what I’ve been sticking to at the moment. I also try to open their palette in terms of what they’re used to artistically. I have a vast selection of resources whether it’s old music, old films, old photography, as well as what’s happening now, and I’m always trying to help get them inspired in that way. 


When searching for new talent, what would you say is most important to you? Is it just the music, or do additional factors also come into play?

I think authenticity is most important to me, and then the next thing would be hard work. Hard work as in, if you weren’t going to be making any money at all doing this, were you going to do this regardless? These things are what I look for. 


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The bread and butter of LVRN largely lives within the realm of R&B music. In your personal opinion, what’s so special about this genre and the artists that make this style of music?

For me, it gets back to what made me fall in love with music. Music was a way of expressing oneself, and artists always knew how to say things in a way that regular humans didn’t. Specifically with R&B and the concepts of love and life – this genre seems to touch more on these topics. It’s more of an intimate genre, and this has always allowed me to connect with it differently. It’s also like a breath of fresh air because you feel like you can relate to whoever’s singing deeper than you can with any other genre in my opinion. 


In your recent appearance on The Rap Caviar Podcast, you proclaimed that the United States is currently making the worst music in the world. Where do you feel like artists from the US are missing the mark, and how would you say international musicians are leading the pack?

For the longest time, music was a huge export from the eastern world to the western world. As of now, that export isn’t in dire need because all of these different regions are now releasing their own music. They’ve taken what they’ve seen from the eastern world, and are infusing it with what is both culturally and visually relevant to them to create something new, whereas music here has become very stagnant. 


Back in 2020, LVRN introduced a division of its organization that was entirely devoted to the mental health of artists. What was the inspiration behind this, and how has this division been of use since its inception? Do you hope to inspire such initiatives at other labels?

First and foremost it helped us as partners. We all have our own egos and shit that we’re going through. When we did a group therapy session together, it helped us a lot, and we were able to work through our issues and find different ways to be more positive when working through difficult times. We thought that this same idea could work for our staff and artists. As an artist, you obviously have to be there for yourself, but at the same time you’re essentially giving yourself to the public, and have to be at their mercy which is a lot. Whatever tools we can provide, we try to make them available, and we’re still looking for new ways to help. We see the issues first hand and hope that other labels will do something similar, but if they don’t want to do it then cool, your favorite artists can just come sign here. 


Over the past several years, LVRN has strengthened its women leadership with a long list of new additions, some of which includes Amber Grimes as Executive Vice President, Selena Garcia as Executive of Operations, and Amal Noor as a Senior Director of A&R. In an industry that is so dominated by men, what is LVRN’s stance on diversity and inclusion, and why is it important to break down these glass ceilings?

First of all, it’s stupid that there are even any glass ceilings in the first place. I think we have to get back to the space of capability and hiring the best, most passionate person for the job. That’s how we get to the best version of output, and the fact that these barriers to entry are even a thing is stupid. For me I try not to even think that way, but I do understand that it’s important to remain cognizant of the disadvantages that we suffer both racially and sexually. We just hire the best people for the job.


Following a recent investment from Matt Pincus’ MUSIC, LVRN received a valuation that surpasses $100 Million. Can you describe your feelings upon this deal being finalized, and what’s next for LVRN following this new investment?  

When you’re a kid they always say “dream big” right? In the back of your mind you’re always wondering “well how am I going to do that”? This solidified that motto for me in a more tangible way, and opened my mind to this actually being true – that dreaming big is something that is actually real. For me it’s unlocked a whole new level of curiosity and a new level of not seeing boundaries. I can fly as high as I want to. 


In a recent interview you described how one of your biggest qualities is being a dreamer. In your own words, what does it mean to be a dreamer, and how has this belief in “anything is possible” guided your life’s journey up until now?  

It’s super important to me. It’s not one of those things that’s innate and that I’m going out of my way to try to do. It’s something that’s within me and attached to how I see the world, and I think that reaffirming my belief just came from the little things I experienced in life. Over time, I really understood that anything that I put my mind to will ultimately become possible. I also realized that this mindset allows you to not feel trapped by circumstance. For me it’s the healthiest way to be, because this world can really be a lot.


In the decade that has followed the origins of LVRN, what would you say was your proudest moment/achievement?

Making it this far. 


You’re one of very few music executives who’s made a reputation for themself from their style just as much as they have for their work in music, with your IG handle even being @justicewearscoolpants. Has fashion always been a big part of your life, and what would an 8 year old Justice think of your style now? 

It just goes back to being on the forefront of culture and what’s happening right now. For me it’s a huge method of expression, and it’s a way to show what you’re interested in without actually saying it. It’s just something that I’ve always been really into. I think he’d think it’s cool.


What is one album that you’d take wherever you go? 

‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’


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What does the phrase Big.Ass.Kid mean to you?

Always living in creativity, and not letting the weight of the world stop your imagination.


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Written by: Shamus Hill