New York-based Richardine Bartee started GRUNGECAKE as a print publication over 10 years ago. Rooted in a deep passion for music, GRUNGECAKE covers the entire industry, but is especially known for its support of emerging artists.
We talked to Bartee about her journey as a founder, the effects of Covid-19 on her business and emerging genres and acts to keep an eye on. Enjoy the interview below.
Snobette: Where do you call home?
Bartee: “This question is complex for me. Not because I am a ‘military brat’ and I’ve lived in several places, but I have to think about my safety. Home, for me, really is where my heart is, but to give you the answer that the people deserve, I lay my head and body down in the City of New York. I don’t know how else to say this, but I have what I like to refer as a live-action stalker.”
Snobette: What led you to create GRUNGECAKE?
Bartee: “Before GRUNGECAKE, I founded other two-three other companies when I was also a teenager. One of them was a graphic design business called Booby Trap Design, inspired by the rare blue-footed booby bird. The other was strictly for website development and content management services. It was called 9267 Studios, which spells out YAMS on the dial pad. I’ve always been a writer, someone who had an affinity for all styles of the entertainment business.”
Snobette: What led you to name your platform GRUNGECAKE?
Bartee: “GRUNGECAKE is the amalgamation, or the joining of two words/things/experiences that are unlikely to coexist. Grunge references the grime and dirty start of one’s journey, not having guidance, or a network to make anything happen. It’s believing that you are worth acquiring more in your life, and taking the necessary steps to get from point “A” to point “C.” Cake is the endpoint. It’s the goal you want to achieve. It’s the success load you can handle. We have the privilege of helping to tell people’s stories, as they live it, at all stages.”
Snobette: Has your content been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?Bartee: “Yes, it has, negatively, on the event management/event production side. My business partners and I were planning to put on our biggest show yet during SXSW 2020. Sebu Simonian from Capital Cities was on our bill as the headliner.
“I’m going to skip around right now because I can’t remember everything nor can I share everything that was going to happen, but we partnered with Warner Records, New Balance, boozy party treat company Spoonable Spirits, and others we didn’t get to announce.
“We were also going to partner with Roc Nation’s top A&R for a SXSW activation called The Carter House. We planned to throw a 4/20 show in Denver, and other exciting things that we aren’t able to share because of the NDAs we signed.
“On the positive end, my self-care is on point! I’ve been kind to myself, allowing myself to sleep past 4:00 AM. I’m nurturing the relationships that I feel are most important for my growth, support and sanity, and it feels so damn good. In conclusion, as a result of the pandemic, because most of the people in the world are home, our music submissions have increased.”
Snobette: As someone who covers emerging music, who are some of the artists and music genres you think will be popping for the second half of 2020?
Bartee: “Brooklyn drill is huge. It’s already influenced some of the industry’s top contenders today like Quavo from the Migos, Rich the Kid, Tory Lanez, and more.
“I fell in love with the genre when I heard ‘Welcome to the Party’ by Pop Smoke on Tristan Thomas’ Instagram Stories, followed by his single ‘Flexing.’ When Nicki Minaj got on the song, I knew it meant it would take the song and the genre to new heights.
“I was invited to Pop Smoke’ launch/birthday party at New York’s SNS Bar [in August 2019], but I was in Barbados for Crop Over so I sent my assistant. I believe Brooklyn drill will definitely crossover to the second half of 2020 with the consistent rise of Fivio Foreign, Sheff G, and so many others who are carrying the sound.
“I feel like Afrobeats artist will make new strides, too. Since late last year, I’ve had the feeling that Doja Cat would be the one to breakthrough in a major way, this year. I believe Ashnikko also has what it takes to successfully crossover.”
Snobette: What songs/artists do you have on repeat right now?
Bartee: “Right now, it’s been ‘Sweetheart’ by Pop Smoke and Fivio Foreign, ‘Tonight’ by Sheff G, ‘War With Us’ by Brooklyn’s Ricky Rikkardo and GS9’s Dboylo and ‘Wetty’ by Fivio Foreign.
“On the softer side, Barbadian singer Lagoon Wavey’s ‘Aloe Vera’, Doja Cat’s ‘Rules’, pre-Party Mobile PARTYNEXTDOOR, and ‘Risky’ by Davido and Popcaan. In conclusion, I have an indie label and publishing company so I’ve been listening to new songs by Esparo, and unreleased music by our new roster. Hopefully, we get to move forward with our releases during the second and third quarter.”
Snobette: Female representation within rap continues to grow. Who are your favorites new acts?
Bartee: “At the moment, Rochester’s BVNGS, Latasha from Brooklyn, who has blossomed into something promising and beautiful, Jacksonville’s Lil Westside, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-born Kierra Luv, and last but not least, Milfie from Detroit.
Snobette: What are some albums you’re looking forward to hearing this year?
Bartee: “I know a lot of top ten artists are supposed to drop this year. I don’t know if the pandemic will change releases, but I’m excited for The Killer’s new album. I worked on Sam’s Town during my time at Cornerstone, which is The Fader‘s parent company. I’d like to hear if the music has progressed and how they plan to market [their upcoming album] Imploding the Mirage. Aside from that, I read online that Kid Cudi, Drake, Lana Del Rey and the late Pop Smoke may release albums in 2020. I’m most excited for those possibilities.”
Snobette: Have you found any upside from quarantine?
Bartee: “So far, the upside of the quarantine, is allowing myself to rest and reflect. I’ve been eating three meals and bonding with my family. It has also allowed me to get more miscellaneous things done, help others, and meet new people like Snobette and Ricky Rikkardo.”