As one of the stars of VH1’s hit reality series, “Love & Hip Hop,” Rich Dollaz has been portrayed as erratic and emotional but ultimately he should be considered extremely effective in his management of R&B songstress Olivia Longott. Since her departure from 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records in 2007, Dollaz has been the man steering her career and creating new ways for her to generate revenue as an independent artist. Even though last season ended on an incomplete note, with viewers unaware of whether the two friends ended their business partnership, Dollaz is happy to announce that they are still a tandem and Olivia is now signed to Wonda Music, the record label run by Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, the Grammy Award-winning producer who played a pivotal production role on the Fugees’ groundbreaking album, “The Score.” Dollaz also has no problem admitting that the “December” song associated most with Olivia during last season was nothing short of a hit and he has the data to prove it.
I had an in-depth conversation with Dollaz about everything the show did not reveal such as his rise in the music industry, his hands-on approach to management, and what we can expect from the upcoming season of “Love & Hip Hop.”
Where does the story of Rich Dollaz begin?
I started off at Bad Boy as an intern in 2002. I’m from New York. I went to college in Nashville, Tennessee. I left Nashville and went to Atlanta to work in a hotel for a year. One of my frat brothers called me up and told me that Puff was looking for some help up here in New York. I had done some stuff at Bad Boy during the summertime while interning. I came up there looking for a gig. Next thing you know Shawn Prez [VP of Promotions at Bad Boy Records] put me on and Harve Pierre [President of Bad Boy Entertainment] put me on and before you know it I was working at Bad Boy that summer and then I was hired by that fall. My first project was the “Making the Band” project with Chopper and Babs and the rest of them. Then I was in the promo and marketing department at Bad Boy. I met Ryan Leslie. He was with Bad Boy Hitmen. At the time, me and Ryan started connecting and he was trying to do his artistry thing. He had management through Tommy Mottola at Casablanca Records. They put me on and I started going out with Ryan. He had a girlfriend at the time. Her name was Cassie and we had a record with Cassie, and Ryan said that he thought it was a smash. Working at Bad Boy at that time was when we had Young Jeezy and Boys N Da Hood, Young Joc, Da Band, G-Dep, and Loon. We put out the Cassie record (“Me & U”) independently and then Ryan also produced and wrote a record for Cheri Dennis called “I Love You” and we released that record independently and Ryan had pressed up the wax and that’s kind of what made Richie Dollaz due to the fact that those records did so well radio-wise and I worked them by myself independently before Cassie even got signed to Bad Boy and when nobody was evening paying attention to Cheri. So my goal was to never fuck with the artists that were there. My goal was to make my own artists.
Then Cory Gunz was under Casablanca at that time so when Cory got a Def Jam deal with Jay-Z , I was doing Cory’s records and they were doing pretty good. So it evolved to me doing my own thing and being more of an independent person than a label person per se . That’s when I started to do Ryan’s records. Ryan used the Cassie vehicle to get out there and learn the game from an artist standpoint because he was always a producer. After he was comfortable, we put out “Diamond Girl.” Ryan was signed to Universal since 2004 and we didn’t put out “Diamond Girl” until 2007-08. So Ryan was on the back back backburner. Sylvia Rhone [former Universal Motown president] wasn’t paying him any mind until we put out “Diamond Girl” and had 300-400 spins independently and Universal was doing nothing for us at the time. Then Sylvia came on board and we put out the Ryan Leslie album and that’s the evolution of me.
When did you transition to management or even realize that you were capable of doing it?
I was working in the promo department. I am on the road. I’m watching these artists get pay dates and seeing them make all this money and I am not getting any of it. Like, I get a check every two weeks but I’m not getting any percentage of anything. And when you are on the road with an artist you really see how much money as a promo guy that you generate. I’m watching people get money and I can’t just do this anymore. There’s no way I was going to allow myself to be a part of that. I decided to manage. Now I am going to get your record, break your record, go on the road, and make money with you. So I’m getting money through the whole system from beginning to the end. If I am going to put in that much work that goes along with working a record and breaking an artist, I am going to get paid the whole way along. My first act that I signed by myself without Ed Woods or Butch Lewis or Tommy Mottola was Olivia and that was my first act. Ryan was technically signed to Ed and Gwen’s artist management and Puff through production. Cory was signed to Tommy Mottola. Lindsey Lohan was signed to Tommy Mottola. Cassie was signed to nobody when we found her but it was Ryan’s girl so he ended up bringing her to Casablanca. So when Tommy stepped away from the game it left it all wide open because that’s when Casablanca turned into Next Selection. And that’s what Next Selection is as you know it now which was the deal that Tommy had at Universal. He owed Ryan a bunch of publishing money but instead of him paying him millions of dollars, he gave him the label. So he has a distribution channel for his music.
How did “Love and Hip Hop” come about?
That was a byproduct of me managing Olivia and doing what we needed to do in trying to get her reinvented and reexposed to the world in a different light than what she was at G-Unit. We are shooting Season 3 of the show now. I obviously don’t have much contact with Cassie anymore. I still work with Cory. I still work with Ryan. I just found Cheri Dennis about a month ago. We might try to figure something out. Olivia has a deal now with Jerry Wonda. We have a bidding war for distribution now so that’s exciting. “Love and Hip Hop 3” comes on January 7 and you can expect an Olivia album by early February and that’s what we are shooting for. We have a record right now that we are about to put out with French Montana produced by Jerry Wonda. It’s crazy. I love working with Jerry. Now it’s just about making sure that Cory doesn’t go to jail forever. (In January, Cory Gunz was arrested in the Bronx for carrying a loaded firearm.)
Is that case still pending?
Yeah, he may get a year. A gun charge in New York is automatic time.
What about getting him a good lawyer?
Real talk, if you are from New York and you get a gun charge, don’t hire a highpowered lawyer. You might as well take the public defender and take your year. Lil Wayne got it. Plaxico [Burress] got more than that. But everybody did something.
When “Love and Hip Hop” ended last season, we had no idea that you and Olivia were still on good terms?
I think when you hear a manager talking to his artist the way me and Liv have our conversations, and I got emotional at one point, they felt that we were walking away from each other. The reality is you want the best for someone so you are going to be honest. My team is real small. When you don’t have a bunch of yes men around you it just makes it easier to get what you want to get done. We are family. Me and Liv are like brother and sister. So if I can’t tell you that you are fucking up then who can? At the end of the day, my success hinges on your success. I’m not going to let you hold me back by not saying something that’s real. We are sometimes in the airport and people say, “I’m so happy you guys are still together.”
But you know it didn’t seem like that when the show ended.
If you really listened to what I said, I never told Liv, “I ain’t fucking with you no more!” When she said she wanted to do indie for the rest of her life and not go to a label, people don’t know that Liv made more than $300,000 off of “December.” People don’t know that. We did that independently through TuneCore. We did “December” and we did “Walk Away” on our own through Dollaz Unlimited. The show promoted it with all the times you saw it on TV. Liv had the No. 1 record on iTunes for seven weeks. People don’t even know that. They be hatin’ and said that shorty fell off. But independently Liv has made more money in the last two years of us working together than she probably made during the whole J Records/G-Unit shit combined because it’s her money.
People brag about how they have a $2 million–dollar deal. No, you don’t have a $2 million-dollar deal. You got four albums to deliver for $2 million and you break that down that’s $500,000 all day. Out of that $500,000 you have to pay producers so that takes another $300- $400K which is $1.2 million so really you start breaking that down and $1.2 million goes to the production over four albums. You might get a $100,000 advance on the first album, maybe $50,000 on the second album, and maybe another $100,000 contingent upon your sales. You are not going to get residuals because no artist sees residual money anymore so don’t think the points on your album is going to make you rich. You can ask Drake. People are suing right now about their points and residual income and the money they made on the sales that they are never going to see because it’s hard to quantify because you don’t get money back until you recoup.
I’m not sure if you have been following “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” but we are learning a lot about the shady aspects of the music business. You worked at a record company. What are your thoughts on how the industry has been portrayed?
K.Michelle is on TV talking crazy and I’m not here to talk about Memphitz [former VP of A&R at Jive Records] and whether they got into a dispute or it got physical but I know that K. Michelle acting like everyone stole her money is crazy because I was at the Jive system and was in the game at that time. I watched Jive work four K.Michelle records and when you work records at Urban AC radio that is between $100–150K and you put four singles out. That sounds like $600,000 to me in terms of total video budget, a “106 & Park” promo tour, and working your record at radio. All of that shit costs money. No mama. You never had a hit record that would put you in the forefront. They had moderate success on the urban chart so you never became a household name. That doesn’t mean that money wasn’t spent. You definitely shot videos. You definitely went on the road. You definitely were on tour with R. Kelly and that wasn’t free. R. Kelly had you on tour with him because of Wayne Williams [Senior Vice President of A&R at RCA Records] and because of the relationship with Jive Records so before you go out and you bury the label you are making it hard for everybody because the world thinks you were done dirty. You got a new booty. You got new teeth. You got new titties. It sounds like a lie. The label can’t make the consumer love you or and buy your music. K. Michelle is a talent, don’t get me wrong.
Liv had the same issues where she acted like she was entitled and entitlement doesn’t show well on TV or to the public especially when they see you on tour with 50 and you got all this money and a bid deal and you were with Clive Davis. G-Unit was on fire. When you act like you are a victim that doesn’t come across well to the regular person looking at your life. You are on private jets in Dubai vacationing but you are telling me that life is fucked up. People should think about that before they come out and say that. Say the label didn’t give you the identity you wanted or say the label didn’t push the records you thought they should push. But don’t say the label didn’t do anything for you or people stole your money. You were an investment at it just so happens that at Jive records you were a bad investment. Not to say that you don’t go to Interscope or Universal tomorrow and become the biggest thing in the world. Alicia Keys has been dropped. Ashanti was dropped early on. Katy Perry was dropped four times before she signed with Capitol. The whole music business is signing your niche. I started at Bad Boy. If I started my career at more traditionally run corporate label, I don’t think I would be Rich Dollaz because Puff gives you the green light to just be you. At Bad boy we were able to do what we wanted to do.
Isn’t it true that Olivia made money with 50 Cent?
Olivia made lots of money with Fif. She had a four-album deal that she got released from. She had a publishing deal with Universal that she got from G-Unit. She made money on the road. She sang “Candy Shop.” She sang “Best Friend.” These were No. 1 hits across the board. There was money being made. People think that Liv moving back home to her mama’s house is an indictment on her. Liv was living in L.A. So you are leaving Interscope and G-Unit and moving back to NY. Are you going to move with your mama or find somewhere new to live? I’m moving home with my mama and I am going to figure out what my next move is before I move into a loft in Midtown. I’m going to make my next move. Liv had a lot of wack juice on her. I think Liv had a lot of hate. I think Liv probably didn’t treat people how she should have treated people when she was on top and in this music industry be careful because the motherfuckers you are being an asshole to may very well be your boss tomorrow.
Who is coming back for “Love and Hip Hop” Season 3?
Rich Dollaz, Eric Mena, Tahiry, Winter, Joe Budden, Consequence, and Yandy will be back. Chrissy, Jimmy, and Mama Jones have their own [“Chrissy & Mr. Jones”] show. Emily is also a part of that show. Kimbella didn’t come back. We also have Lore’l, a rapper from New York, and a few other people.
Talk about the whole creative process of the show.
I think that overall the show’s job is to pry and find out people’s innermost secrets and once you sign up to do this you kind of agree to that. You can’t get mad at producers or staff members. Nobody makes you say anything. You would be surprised at the power of a camera. When a camera is in front of you, you will look at it the next day like, “Fuck, why did I act like that yesterday?” I wasn’t even drunk but that camera being on and the lights being on may have had you feeling yourself. Reality TV is about chasing story lines. If they know me and you don’t get along it’s their job to put us together as much as they can and hope that something pops off. If you and I are beefing they will put us together every day. In my mind, I can say I will ever argue with you and at some point and time there will be a conflict.
When Olivia sat down with Wayne Williams and he implied that “December” was a disappointment at radio was that set up? Were you aware of his angle beforehand?
It is set up for him to be there but it’s up to you to come in and do your scene. So Liv knows that tomorrow she has to meet with Wayne to discuss music and it’s Liv’s job to have her shit in order and it’s his job to have his shit in order. If he comes in and says your record wasn’t successful it would be good for him to have facts. Wayne’s facts weren’t correct. He had BDS but he didn’t count iTunes numbers. It is what it is. You have a scene. Prepare for your scene. The person who prepares the best wins whether it’s Wayne or someone arguing about you being a ho. If I know 50 niggas that you’ve fucked, I am going to win that scene. If you only know five girls that I’ve fucked then I will win the scene. I did my due diligence. Chrissy was so good at this reality shit because she was witty and quick and would pick up on some shit and get you. She was smart and articulate. She was built for this shit. She is a beast with that reality TV. Somaya was more of a victim and tried to make motherfuckers feel sorry for her.
Is that why we didn’t see her a lot towards the end of the season?
Yes, especially when people start telling you that you don’t have nothing and instead of you really going and trying to generate something, you lie about stuff. You have a window. People won’t kick you off the show in one week. If they tell you that you don’t have nothing, then you need to go get something. For Liv, it was my job to get her a deal with a reputable motherfucker who produced for the Fugees and Shakira.
Do you present ideas to the show’s executive producer Mona Scott-Young?
No, you don’t present. It’s your story line. Your storyline is what it is. I don’t ask Mona. I tell Mona my storyline is this. She will put you in a position. You have to have something in your life worth talking about. If you are lying about Tequila and lying about shoes all that shit comes back to the forefront because in six months your lies will be exploited. Reality is cutthroat. Everybody is against each other. It’s my job to hear that lie and expose it. That’s what makes it good.
That’s tough. Do you have any regrets?
It changes your life if you do it right. See, I’m built for reality TV because I am O.C.D. [obsessive-compulsive disorder] and I am a control freak. You put those two things together and I don’t sleep and I’m not afraid to work. You ever watch the rap battle in “8 Mile?” Eminem said, “Tell these people something they don’t know about me!” That’s how I live this reality shit. If you say Liv is wack, then I’ll show you that Liv ain’t wack. If you say she can’t sing, I’m going to let her sing. If you say she’s ugly, I am going to put her on TV. If you say she ain’t got no personality, I’m going to have her on TV for the next three years. If you say she can’t get a deal, I’m gonna get her a deal right before your eyes. If you say she lives at home, I am going to move her from her mother’s home to an apartment. If you say we can’t get no’ money, I am going to tell you that “December” sold damn near 300,000 records independently.
What is your cut as a manager?
I get 20 percent of everything. Like Kanye West is on top of the world but needs to hire a new manager. You can be two types of managers. You can be the manager who answers the phone or you can be the manager who makes the phone ring. I’m the manager who makes the phone rings so I am entitled to more than just the guy who takes notes. If I’m out here and sign you, find your record, put you in the studio for you to sing your record, once the record is sung I put it on the radio, then we go on the road together to promote the record, I put on the radio, I’m also the guy who is also your security, your road manager, the guy booking your flights, putting you in first class, making sure your rider is correct, and I am there every step of the way I should get 20 percent. I say that as opposed to the guy who says a booking came and you are going to Mississippi next week. Homeboy is not going to go with you. Does that nigga really deserve 20 percent? He deserves to be a booking agent. I’m the reason this record is on radio and the radio station even wants you in their market. I’m on “Love & Hip Hop” crying and shit making sure you don’t have to cry because I am crying for you. Then I’m arguing with Somaya so you don’t have to argue with her. I have nothing against Somaya. She is a victim of the show. I got millions of dollars in my pocket. I’ve got a lot of zeros in my bank. Why am I worried about shorty who goes on the cover of King magazine for 3 months?
When the show ended it made it appear that you and Eric Mena were an item or getting closer beyond business. Is that true?
No, it didn’t. It didn’t say nothing about Richie Dollaz and Erica Mena being an item. Don’t mix-up the reunion show with Mediatakeout.com
Even though when you heard her sing you didn’t seem impressed?
We haven’t done any music but she just shot for Maxim magazine. She is about to shoot Playboy magazine. I think that Erica is a hustler. Every football player wants to be a rapper. Every rapper wants to be an athlete. Every model wants to be a singer. Every single wants to be a model. Every model/singer wants to be an actor. It’s the world we live in. Every Latin woman who grows up wants to be Jennifer Lopez. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do it all if your talent allows you to do it all. If your talent doesn’t allow you to do it all, then it’s your manager, or man, or friend’s job to let you know that this is what we need to concentrate on. And it might not be what you want to concentrate on. But I will never jeapordize my brand. I remember when people used to laugh at me about Ryan Leslie and say he didn’t have any talent. I would say that Ryan is the most talented singer/songwriter/artist/performer in the game and I will continue to do so even when people don’t believe me.
Eric shoots Playboy next month and will come out top of the year in the NFL playoff issue. That’s the way it looks so far. She will be going to UK in a few days to shoot the “Fast & Furious 6.” We don’t play man.
Now you are managing Cory but isn’t he also managed by Nick Cannon?
I was with Ed Woods for years. I was Ed’s go-to-guy when I was at Bad boy. His wife actually put me on to him. His wife’s name is Gwen Niles and Gwen does A&R admin at Bad Boy. Me and Gwen had gotten cool and she said I needed to meet her husband because she thought he could help me with a lot of the entrepreneurial shit she saw in me. So Ed brought me into the mix and we started doing stuff together. I hate how that Nick Cannon stuff worked out with him.
So what do you think happened when Ed appeared as Cory’s manager on the “Son of a Gun” reality show that aired on MTV? Wasn’t he eventually fired as Cory’s manager?
I think Ed was a victim of the show. It was Nick Cannon’s show. Ed was silly to argue with Nick Cannon thinking that he could win that. Nick had the power of the edit. Let’s be clear. Nick Cannon doesn’t need Corey Gunz. He is the President of Nickelodeon. He greenlights movies. He is married to Mariah Carey. What Nick needed from Cory was some kind of street cool. That’s what Cory provided. He’s from the Bronx. Niggas want to cross over to pop so when you are in pop and you are black you want to cross over to the hood. You want a pass. You want that pass when you come to the hood. Ed was trying to give the viewer a good show and got caught up in the crossfire and killed himself.
Corey was putting out mixtapes and was gaining momentum. We expected an album when the show as over. What happened?
Cory is on Young Money. This is another thing. Having a deal kind of handcuffs you from doing what you want to do independently. The same guy who was giving you tracks for your mixtape now wants tracks for your album. Then you have to remember that in a fiscal year, you can’t put out an album every week. And if you are Cash Money and you are Universal, you’ve got to know what Wayne is coming. Drake is coming. Nicki is coming. A Cash Money collaboration is coming. Birdman is coming. And then you pop in Tyga who had gotten hot and he had to come. Then you go sign Busta Rhymes who was out there doing his own thing. You can’t shelter Busta Rhymes so Busta is coming. You can’t push Busta to the back. Then the press is talking about how Nicki didn’t give you an urban album. She gave you a pop album which made Nicki want to go back into the studio now and give you an urban album. So that pushes you back. And then Drake wants to give you another album. So before you know it, here they come again. And you are stuck because you ain’t hot.
So what’s the game plan for Cory?
We gotta get hot. We gotta figure out what’s going on with the case. That kind of put us in a bad position. Everyone is trying to figure out how long you will be gone. It’s tough to try and work an album because you are not hot right now. The press that another person would get going to trial where you release an album before you go to trial, shoot a couple of videos, and put them in the can isn’t here. Corey doesn’t have that luxury because he isn’t hot right now.
Why didn’t you drop new music immediately after “6 Foot 7 Foot” was such a monster hit with Lil Wayne featuring Cory?
I will say that as part of his team bad decisions were made. After “6 Foot 7 Foot” Cory should have had his own single. “6 Foot 7 Foot” was the No. 1 record in the country but we didn’t follow it up with nothing and the mixtape came and went. Sometimes shit happens.