On Wednesday evening, YouTube Music celebrated the 30 year legacy of LaFace Records honoring music visionaries, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “LA” Reid. The black tie gala, which took place at the Atlanta History Center, reflected on the city’s longstanding contributions to popular music, largely established by the night’s guests of honor.
The evening was introduced by Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube, and Tuma Basa, Director of Urban Music at YouTube who further reiterated the significance of Atlanta as not only a vehicle for popular music, but also a global purveyor of culture. Joining them onstage for special presentations were comedian Lil Duval, recording artist Monica, and music video director Bryan Barber.
The evening was capped off by special award presentations made to Edmonds and Reid for the storied careers and performances by Atlanta’s legendary acts including Big Boi, Pastor Troy, KP the Great, Goodie Mob, CeeLo, Killer Mike and TI. Other notable attendees and guest appearances included Ludacris, 2Chainz, Jermaine Dupri, Future, Rick Ross, Da Brat, YoungBloodZ, Sleepy Brown, Rico Wade, Dallas Austin, and more.
Tuma Basa, Director of Urban Music at YouTube: “The reason we’re here is because 30 years ago, LA and Babyface chose Atlanta to start LaFace Records. They embraced the homegrown talent and built a blueprint for all of us to follow. When you’re a music programmer or a DJ, you try to break a song. The song has to be right and then it pops because it’s time. What happened 30 years ago is that LA and Babyface came to Atlanta, a city that was ripe, and broke the city.
Bryan Barber, music video and motion picture director: Atlanta influences everything. LaFace influences everything. As I look out into the crowd, the word that comes to mind is ‘we.’ How far we’ve come, all that we’ve influenced, things that we’ve impacted, and things we’ll influence in the years to come. I got here in 1990 when the city was thriving with talent, fashion, music, education and business. The city embraced me. I was able to spend time with all of these young, amazing artists while carrying this 16mm camera on my shoulder. I would shoot everywhere I went. I see all of these faces from that time, we were young then, but we’re old now, and yet we have the same optimistic smiles and optimism about the future. Thank you for embracing me and Atlanta. I love you.
LA Reid, co-founder of LaFace Records: We’re not from Atlanta, but the city opened its arms to us and it didn’t have to. Atlanta never made us feel like outsiders and as a result we were able to give that back by giving opportunities to young aspiring artists like Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin and Rico Wade who are real geniuses. The real measure of a record executive is the ability to bump up against genius and I’m proud to say I started my career bumping up next to the greatest songwriter ever [Babyface]. It doesn’t get better, but Dallas measured up and Jermaine measured up and Organized Noize measured up. They gave us greatness and music that will live forever. So, I’m thankful to Atlanta for embracing us.
Babyface, co-founder of LaFace Records: The thing that keeps sticking with me when I Iook across this room and see all the talent — if we had anything to do with inspiring this — to me that’s God’s blessing. When amazing things are happening you don’t always realize it. When we came down to Atlanta, we were just trying trying to make some music. I didn’t have it in my head that we were going to make this the greatest label of all time, but in that journey, were were able to meet amazing people. I’ve never seen a music label like this where people didn’t want to go home. The thing that stayed with ime is that that feeling of having something to be proud. It wasn’t just a record company. People were proud to say that they worked for LaFace. I feel blessed to have written the songs I wrote, but I’m just as blessed to have known and worked with the people at LaFace and to be a part of this city. There is no place like Atlanta and I don’t think there ever will be.
Monica, recording artist: We were always told what we couldn’t do, but being in this room reminds me what we can do. You don’t see us fighting often in Atlanta. We come from a place where we don’t see silver spoons until we can purchase them ourselves.We support, love and uplift everyone. I don’t need to know you to love you.. We will always welcome you to Atlanta because we feel like we can grow people from everywhere.