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How Steve Rifkind Signed Wu-Tang, Fat Joe & Hip-hop’s Biggest Stars

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
The founder of SRC Records joins Rich Kleiman on “Out of Office” to reflect on signing Wu Tang and some of hip-hop’s biggest acts, the intangibles of success, and more.

Click here to listen to the full episode

When Rich Kleiman looks back on his own career journey, there is one name he recalls as being instrumental in seeing what he was trying to do as a manager: Steve Rifkind. At the time, Kleiman and New York DJ Mark Ronson were hitting the major labels in search of a deal. While Ronson was well known on the club circuit and had begun to make a name for himself in the industry at large, fewer observers were acknowledging Rich’s unique contributions as a manager as readily.

“The first time we met, you said, ‘The two of you have something special,” Kleiman recalls in the introduction to this week’s guest on Boardroom’s “Out of Office.”

“I couldn’t believe you acknowledged me. You said, “The two of you guys have to stay together, that’s what the magic is. Right here is the magic. So, let’s talk about a deal.”

At the time, Steve Rifkind was the head of Loud Records. Although their deal didn’t end up coming to life, Rifkind made Kleiman and Ronson hopeful about the future of the industry.

As he looks back on his career, Rifkind highlights how he developed his eye and ear for top talent and the evolution of the industry.

On this week’s episode, the two long-time friends chop it up about a wide range of topics, including:

  • Signing legendary acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Akon, and more
  • Fat Joe‘s unparalleled talents as an A&R exec
  • Creating a label amidst hip-hop’s golden era of Bad Boy, Roc-A-Fella, and more
  • How today’s dependency on analytics eliminates some of the key skills necessary to spot new talent

…and much more.

Click here to listen and subscribe to “The ETCs” with Kevin Durant and Eddie Gonzalez and “Out of Office” with Rich Kleiman.

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About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.