Who Is Lucian Grainge, and How Powerful Is He? Very

One of the most powerful men in the music industry is having a lot of discourse around his name in hip-hop circles lately. Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge has been in the music business for 45 years. The North London native is a certified knight with the honor bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II, who did so in 2016, through her 90th Birthday Honours list, which praised the music industry and its leadership through its challenging times. The guy’s a big deal.

Unfortunately, his name has been used by Ye as ammunition to go at Drake on a diss track more recently. Ye mentioned the 63-year-old music industry mogul to insult Drizzy on the remix to “Like That,” and during an interview with social media personality Justin Laboy. Ye debuted the song last Saturday (April 20) in the chat with Laboy for his new podcast, The Download. The diss track is a remix of Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That” featuring Kendrick Lamar, in which K-Dot takes aim at Drake and J. Cole. Ye also referred to Lucian as the 6 God’s “rich baby daddy” elsewhere in the interview. The attack is to imply Grainge is getting Drake all the spins and love on DSPs that his Certified Lover Boy heart desires.

“It’s a wrap for n***as/Where’s Lucian? Serve your master, n***a/You caught a little bag for your masters, didn’t ya?/Lifetime deal, I feel bad for n***as/Y’all so outta sight, outta mind/I can’t even think of a Drake line,” Ye raps on the remix.

The lyrics are likely referring to the lucrative deal Drake signed with Universal Music Group in 2022. The amount of the deal, which includes recordings, publishing, merchandise and visual media projects, has never been confirmed, but sources say it could be worth $400 million.

Lucian was also named as a defendant in producer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones lawsuit against Diddy filed in February. The suit alleges Diddy sexually assaulted, harassed and failed to pay Jones for work done on The Love Album: Off the Grid. Lucian is included as providing financial resources to Diddy and Love Records, the rap mogul’s label. As a general business partner to Diddy in that capacity, the head of UMG “had a duty to ensure that the financial support they provided to Sean Combs and Love Records was not being used for sex workers, drugs, and laced alcohol was not being used for sex workers, drugs, and laced alcohol,” according to the court document.

Now with that information out the way, there’s certainly more to Lucian Grainge than the negativity connected to his name over the last few months. He joined Universal Music Group in 1986, launching PolyGram in the U.K, and making it one of the top three music publishing companies in the country. He’s worked as General Manager of A&R (1993) and Managing Director (1997) at Polydor. Then Grainge landed a Chairman and CEO title at Universal Music Group UK in 2001. By 2011, he brought that title with him to take over Universal Music Group. UMG, the house that Lucian built, has dominated as the largest of the Big Three label groups ahead of Warner Music and Sony. Grainge oversees the labels under the umbrella, including Interscope, Republic, Def Jam, Capitol, Motown and Island.

Lil Wayne’s Young Money, Eminem’s Shady Records, J. Cole’s Dreamville and Coach K and P’s Quality Control Music are just some of the hip-hop labels connected to UMG and Lucian.

When looking at what Grainge has accomplished as the head of the biggest music group in the world, he’s responsible for significantly increasing the company’s revenues and profitability. Under his leadership, UMG became the first music company with nine of the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart and the first music company to score all 10 of the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Our barometer for success is not just market share—although obviously if it was we’re doing pretty well,” he said at a Capitol Congress event in 2018. “Our barometer of success is creating companies that the best artists want to sign to, because they know we can accelerate their careers beyond anyone else in any other system or at any other structure.”

He’s even been open-minded about advanced technologies like A.I., which has increasingly infiltrated the music business over the last year. “AI at the service of artists is a good thing, but AI that is used to harm or prevent artists from due compensation is a bad thing,” he told Fast Company in March. “So, our approach is to embrace responsible AI technology in a way that enhances human creativity.”

Scoring major feats like that has earned him big bucks. Grainge takes home an annual salary of $5 million. His annual bonus is $10 million and the equity he receives includes annual grants of $20 million. The music baron also locked in a one-time transition award of $100 million, which encompasses restricted stock units and performance stock options. He even earned $150 million bonus for successfully taking UMG public in 2021. Lucian Grainge makes money moves.

Rappers have taken notice as well. Drake name-dropped Lucian on Migos’ 2021 track “Having Our Way”: “S**t done changed, billionaires talk to me different when they see my paystub from Lucian Grainge.” Travis Scott has also given the multimillion-dollar man his props on Drake and 21 Savage’s 2022 song “P***y & Millions”: “Only signin’ the gang’We the new Lucian Grainge.”

The music business mogul also keeps it in the family. Lucian’s son, Eliott Grainge, is the founder of 10K Projects, the label to which Ice Spice, Trippie Redd, Iann Dior, Jeleel! and Rich Amiri, among others, are signed.

So, while Ye brings up Lucian Grainge’s name to diss Drake, it seems like having a guy with all that power in your corner is beneficial in this game.

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