Poor Rich Harrison.
Although the songwriting producer crafted hits such as Amerie's "1 Thing" (see "Amerie Shoots Down Goody-Goody Image, Says 'I'm Not A Prude' ") and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" (see "Road To The Grammys: The Making of Beyonce's 'Crazy In Love' "), he still finds he has to prove himself over and over again — even to Beyoncé. The former Destiny's Child singer invited Harrison to work on her B'Day project, but this time B pitted him against Pharrell and Swizz Beatz in adjoining studio sessions.
So imagine what crossed Harrison's mind recently when the not-as-pleasant-as-Beyoncé 50 Cent called him. According to Harrison, the G-Unit general told the producer he was interested in working with him for his next project. Though Harrison had been interested in delving into hip-hop more, did the battle-tested beatsmith think twice about the prospect of working with an arduous artist again?
"Hell nah," he exclaimed, laughing. "Not at all. I'd [wanted] to do some more hip-hop stuff, but someone's got to trust it. Someone's got to believe."
And apparently that person will be Fif. Harrison believes it's 50's penchant for musical hooks and melodies that attracted the rapper to the producer's style, which features dramatic breakdowns and large choruses. Despite Harrison being recruited by 50, the rapper hasn't formally announced that he's working on a new LP.
If it's up to Harrison, soon he'll take his native D.C. sound to Motown-like heights. He recently launched Richcraft Records in a partnership through Atlantic Records and hopes to create R&B's next dynasty, similar to LaFace Records in the '90s. The producer said R&B hasn't had its just due lately with hip-hop dominating the charts so much.
"There's been some really successful labels, but most of them are rap-based," Harrison said. "I really want to bring back the LaFace model. Rap just took over the world, dude. It's so prevalent, and from a label standpoint so much cheaper to make. The business model is just easier. But R&B has been practically watered down by pop. There used to be black music, but that doesn't exist today like it used to do.
"R&B has kind of been forgotten about," he added, while still crediting Ne-Yo and Chris Brown as a few of the pop artists who retain a soulful sound.
So far Harrison has signed former Roc-A-Fella singer Young Steff and Jaiden James (not to be confused with Britney Spears' second son) to his label, and he also has plans to build an all-girl group named Rich Girls. Harrison expects to release a Steff single by the end of the year and albums by both solo artists midway through 2007.
Although Harrison said he's dedicated to his label 100 percent right now, he also admitted if he gets another unexpected call — from, say, Usher, who, along with Missy Elliott, Harrison is slated to be working with shortly — he's definitely going to be ready and willing, no matter the circumstances.
"If I jump in, I'm going to give it my all," he said. "Who doesn't want to give Usher a smash?"
Even if it means being put to the test once more.