Chances are, if you have listened to Alicia Keys, Nas or Amy Winehouse over the last several years, you have heard the work of Salaam Remi.
Remi, the Grammy-nominated music producer and top level executive at Sony Music behind Keys’ hit R&B song Girl On Fire and several tracks on Winehouse’s 2006 Grammy-winning Back to Black album, dropped the digital version of his first album, One: In The Chamber, in September.
But, despite his successful track record with artists, Remi does not measure his own success as an artist with record sales or even popularity.
“I think I have a different level of expectation; so much of their stardom is about becoming a celebrity,” Remi said in a phone interview.
The album’s lead single One In The Chamber, which features Akon, has an underground club feel that may be different from what is successful in mainstream music. Remi said the entire album carries those same undertones, incorporating a mix of what he listens to on an average weekend — soul, R&B and reggae.
“Everyone has their different audience, this is based on my passion. What I enjoy, it is not necessarily always commercial,” Remi said.
And being his own boss helps, too. Remi is the Executive VP of A&R and Production at Sony Music. He has his own label imprint, Flying Buddha, and said he edited himself while working on the album, which releases physically in January.
“I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m the voice of reason for an artist,” he said.
Remi said that his biggest commercial successes, like The Fugees, were never intended as such. Rather, he took a different approach that eventually became the industry standard.
According to Remi, “they all sounded very cultural, a bit different to what was going on.”
The rest of his album shapes up to be diverse; it includes appearances from Ne-Yo, Estelle and Stephen Marley.
“Salaam has the unique ability to pull together diverse artists in a cohesive and intricate way,” Sony Masterworks president Bogdan Roscic said. “The outcome is extremely creative and musical.”
Besides collaborating with artists, Remi has worked on music for such movies as Sparkle and Rush Hour 3.
Impressive, given his stature. But, a successful debut album would be a nice mark on his resume too.
“I’ve written, played, produced; I’m the label head,” Remi said. “Bigger fruit.”