By Tyler Bunzey
December 21, 2021
Photo: Nuku Muingbeh
Charlotte rapper Reuben Vincent shared on Friday a short Instagram video announcing he has been signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Vincent was discovered at the age of 13 by North Carolina producer 9th Wonder, and he was eventually signed to the Raleigh-based record label, Jamla Records, when he was just 16 years old.
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According to the 20-year-old rapper, Roc Nation has been in his sights since he watched Jay-Z’s sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden in the 2004 documentary, Fade to Black. Although Vincent looked up to Jay-Z’s work throughout his childhood, signing to Roc Nation means more to the emcee than a dream turned into reality. Roc Nation’s Black leadership stands out in an industry where 86% of music executives are estimated to be white men.
“The thing about Roc Nation that’s beautiful is the empowerment of our people in the offices with Shari [Bryant], Omar Grant, being the president[s] and Jay running it,” said Vincent. I wouldn’t want it any other way to be signed to a Black man and to just be with people who are really for the culture and really for the music.”
Vincent is experiencing a turning point in his career with the signing to Roc Nation, one that will undoubtedly transform his artistic output. The moment comes with years of working in the shadows to sharpen his craft.
“They don’t see the long hours in the studio. They don’t see the self-doubt, wondering if this is going to work because I took the road less traveled…I’m not gimmicky. I’m 100% myself,” said Vincent.
Vincent debuted his first album, Myers Park, with Jamla while he was still in high school in 2017. His 2020 EP, Boy Meets World, showcased a more mature and hungry artist ready to step into the spotlight. His record “No Problems” was selected for the Madden 20 soundtrack, and he’s been featured on the Grammy-nominated album, Dinner Party: Dessert. In spite of these magnificent accomplishments early in his career, Vincent is looking forward to the benefits of joining a more visible label with a storied legacy.
“I have more resources now. I have a bigger platform. And just think about all of the people, all of the artists that came out of that Roc imprint, whether it was Roc-A-Fella early on or Roc Nation now.”
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) December 17, 2021
Vincent wants his successes to reflect back to the city and its vibrant but underappreciated hip-hop scene: “I feel like we in a dope Renaissance. And I just see it. I’m ready for it.” This confidence translates more as hunger than haughtiness, and it’s hard not to root for the young emcee as he steps into his own.
It’s clear Vincent wants to leave a lasting imprint, inspiring others the way Jay-Z and Roc Nation inspired him. Put simply, Vincent is reaching for greatness.
“I’ve been ready for this. And I’m not gonna let myself down. And I’m not gonna let my people down. I’m not gonna let Charlotte down.”
Listen to Reuben Vincent‘s 2020 EP, Boy Meets World.