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Cornerstone Turns Another Corner
June 24, 2003

Industry 101: Chris Atlas
Wednesday - June 18, 2003
ill Will - HipHopDx.com

What makes the music industry go ‘round? Money. But the Cornerstone Mix Cd comes in at a close second. What’s so special about it, how come you might not know what it is? It’s exclusive to the industry, and it’s where they hear hottest music and catch a glimpse of hits to come. Ask anyone that you know that’s really in the urban music business what they got in their car and they’ll hit you with the volume number of the Cornerstone CD they just got. So this month in Industry 101 get famaliar with Chris Atlas, the man behind the music.

How’d the Cornerstone MixCD come about?
It started in 1998 by Rob Stone, Lee Majors, and Cory CL. It started out as way to showcase a DJ on a national level and gave promoters the opportunity to break new records. That was the mindset that it started and it has pretty much kept that but has grown tremendously from the amount of DJ’s that have mixed on a Cornerstone, to the reach of a Cornerstone being that it’s still a predominately an industry CD, but the reputation of it extends far beyond the CD.

When’d you come to Cornerstone?
I came in 2001. CL was still here, but he was taking a different role. Lee Majors was the editor, and still is the editor of the Fadar Magazine. So he was becoming less involved with the mixtape and once CL eventually left the company in 2001, I assumed full responsibility of producing the mixtapes, of course with the mixshow team I supervise.

What are your responsibilities for putting together the mixtape?
I supervise the production of it, it’s not like I, or Rob, have the final say in what goes on because it’s definitely a democratic process. I’m in charge of the mixtape, but we try to include the other guys in the mixshow department as much as possible. Ultimately, if it’s something that I feel doesn’t work then I do have the final veto and Rob has the final veto. I supervise the production of the CD’s from the visual’s of it, to the music we select, to the DJ’s we select, to the actual production of the mixing.

Conerstone isn’t your introduction to the music industry, is it?
I interned at various different companies. My last years of college I interned at Jack The Rapper, which was one of the leading Urban Trade conferences. I interned at Jive Records and at Tommy Records, which turned into a full-time position. While at Tommy Boy I took on various roles from working on a multi-platinum compilation- Jock Jamz and Jock Rock. I handled college promotion to mix-show promotion to A&R to heading up the urban marketing for Tommy Boy. When I eventually left in 2001, I was General Manager of urban music.

Were you around when Tommy Boy folded?
I left a year before.

So, are you on Noreaga’s side and “fuck Tommy Boy?”
No, not at all.

So when he says “fuck Tommy Boy,” he’s including you?
I don’t like to think that, because even though, N.O.R.E. said, “fuck Tommy Boy” and a lot of people associate that with the staff at Tommy Boy, but there were a lot of people there that he had a good relationship with. Noreaga’s beef had more to with the actual owner of Tommy Boy, not the staff. A lot of people on the staff worked very hard to make his project happen. I know that that wasn’t directed at me. I see him and it’s all good.

Of course! I’m sure he wants to be on a Cornerstone mixtape…So what took you from Tommy Boy to Cornerstone?
My last year at Tommy Boy, we had a great year in regards to Hip-Hop projects. Running the urban department I had the opportunity to put on different independent marketing companies to help impact our projects. Cornerstone was one of those companies that I contracted. I developed a great relationship with Rob Stone and have always had great respect for Cornerstone and the work that they’ve done. I was looking to do something different and Rob and I shared a common vision.

Who picks the music, the DJ?
My staff normally selects the music, of course with the imput of the DJ. We allow the DJ freedom to play songs that they wanna play. We try to represent the different perspectives of the music. You’ll hear underground joints, you’ll hear club joints, you’ll hear dirty south joints, because even though we’re in New York, the CD is not a New York CD. Sometimes we’ll get radical opinions on the mixes, but that’s the power of the mixtape. We give cats an opportunity to showcase their talents for how they do it. Every DJ doesn’t have the same style, if they did we could just have the same DJ every month.

Is there payola involved in the mixtape?
There’s no payola involved but don’t get it twisted, it’s a marketing tool so there are economics associated with it. We are a marketing and promotions company.

What other services do you guys provide?
The CD is a component of Cornerstone, we’re a full service marketing company. We do radio promotions, we do mix-show promotion, we also have a college marketing team called the Farm Team. They do lifestyle marketing, product placement, product research, college radio promotion. We have an online marketing department which does online services. We also have a corporate marketing component where we do product placement and product promotion on a coporate level such as X-Box, Sprite, or Fila. We also have the Fadar Magazine, which is a separate entity from Cornerstone.

Let’s bring it back to the Cornerstone CD. What’s more important to the Cornerstone Mixtape, the DJ or the music?
Both. The Cornerstone Mixtape wouldn’t be hot without the right DJ or the right music.


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