Signing Story: Kofi

Date Signed: March 13, 2020

Label: Red Bull Records

Type of Music: Hip-Hop/R&B

Management: Elie Shermer

Booking: Jvngle Music Group

Legal: Matt Gorman, Oceantown Music

Publicity: The Chamber Group - Shannon Atran & Milcah Tesfaye

Web: Instagram @jmgkofi

A&R: Kenny Salcido, Red Bull Records

These past few years, when Kofi wasn’t garnering critical acclaim, gaining legendary fans like Drake and accumulating hundreds of thousands of streams for tracks such as “Wake Up” and “Came Up,” the Toronto-based singer, rapper and songwriter was blowing everyone away as a gravity-defying UCLA men’s volleyball champ under his birth name Daenan Gyimah.

Ironically, his success as a middle attacker for the Bruins, and being chosen in 2019 to join the Canadian Men’s National Team for prominent international tournaments, threatened to get in the way of his signing to L.A.-based Red Bull Records when the label was making its offer to add the now 22-year-old to their multi-genre roster.

“I set up a meeting with Tick (A&R rep Kenny Salcido), went over there and we chopped it up,” says Kofi, a classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist whose music features tinges of his Ghanaian heritage. “He and (Managing Director) Greg Hammer wanted to know my plan. They knew I was a high-level volleyball player and wondered how much time I could commit to music and touring. Getting the deal done took a while because we had to figure out where the line between the two careers would be drawn––but one of the main reasons I signed with them was because they were absolutely okay with me playing volleyball.”

A prolific writer and artist, Kofi began dropping tracks in quick succession in 2018 under Jvngle Music, not so much a label as a collective to spotlight the natural talent he encountered and encouraged in his area of Toronto. The success of “Came Up” (which has nearly 1.9 million Spotify streams) via prominent playlist placements caught the attention of several labels, including Red Bull. He received a DM from music publisher Jared Lane, who was serving as a consultant for Red Bull Records and told Kofi the label heads were interested in a meeting. When Lane met Kofi, he told him he reminded him of Akon, which, Kofi says, “was crazy because Akon is my favorite artist of all time.”

Kofi released three lead singles, including “F.A.Y.,” “Nuff Talk (feat. Rodney), and “Babygirl,” from his debut label EP Story of My Life, which dropped Aug. 14. “It was great doing self-releases for a while,” he says, “but signing with a label is like proving I can actually make money and have a sustainable career doing this. A lot of people try but never get to the place where they can sign with a label like Red Bull. Getting signed was my plan all along.”