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Exclusive Interview: Osi Umenyiora And Leila Lopes Discuss Their New Record Label

Ositadimma "Osi" Umenyiora, former NFL defensive end for the New York Giants and his wife, Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes are planning a social movement through the power of music.

Umenyiora and Lopes may have said goodbye to their respective careers in professional football and pageantry but the London-based couple has been keeping busy building their very own music label, The Uprise. The Uprise is a music label unlike any other. The couple and their producers do not sign any artists as traditional labels do and are willing to give any talent a chance for the opportunity to work with the label. Their goal is to give as many talented voices a shot at having their music heard and to unite the world through the universal language of music.

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TheRichest had the chance to speak exclusively with Umenyiora and Lopes to learn more about their music label and what led them to start this new venture together.

TR: Osi and Leila, you are both extremely accomplished in your respective fields. What was the draw for you, as a couple, to create a record label together?

Osi: I think, initially, the fact that Leila called my attention to the kind of music that she is into which is funk music from Brazil. She knew that I was really interested in music, she knows I love music. We put our heads together and thought about ways about what we could do to bring that sound over here and this is what we came up with. We wanted to give people a chance, who had never been heard before. We’re trying to give people a chance to have their voices heard on a track.

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TR: How did you decide on the name “The Uprise” for your record label?

Leila: We were thinking about names for the record label and realized that what we were doing was actually an uprise. We wanted to bring all of these cultures together and to give a voice to people who haven’t had an opportunity to show their talents so we decided that the name should be The Uprise.

Osi: The record label industry, from what we’ve researched, we found that it’s very closed off, very few people get a chance to have their voices heard. It’s the old guard and the old guard is trying to keep people from coming up so basically, we decided to create an uprise and that became the name for our record label.

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TR: Currently, you have artists signed. Can you tell us a bit about each of them and what makes their sound special/unique?

Osi: Well, we have two producers, Mikespro and Zeeko. Andi McErnest and Grace are part of The Uprise, too but none of them are actually signed. They are a part of the actual uprise. We’re not looking to sign anyone. We’re looking to give as many people as possible the opportunity to have their voices heard on the tracks that these people are creating. Andi is also a writer as well as an artist. And Mikespro and Zeeko are outstanding producers. Grace is also a contributor to what we’re doing. What we’re trying to do is not necessarily have individual artists signed to The Uprise but give as many talented individuals out there a chance to get their voices heard. It’s a tough business to be in. We have people from all over the world, too… from Portugal, we have a French rapper, Brazilian artists. It’s worldwide.

Leila: Let me just add that we don’t really care what they look like, we just want talented people and people who share the same idea as Osi and I.

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TR: How do you find your talent - or do they find you?

Osi: Well, initially, we went about searching for talent. It took us a while to find Grace. I think once this message gets out there about what we’re doing, I’m pretty sure they’re going to find us. We’ve seen so many of them already because the producers know people, we know people and whoever we feel is talented, we’ll give them a chance to get on. So once this message gets out there, we’ll get a bunch of people coming on. Maybe we still start signing them but for now, we’re just trying to give as many people as possible a chance.

TR: Do you use social media as a tool to seek out talent?

Leila: Not yet, no.

TR: It seems that the talent you are looking to bring on has a diverse range. So what qualities do you look for in possible talent for The Uprise?

Leila: The main thing that we require from them is talent. Secondly, being free-minded is important, people who care about what’s going on in the world. We don’t want people who just want to be there for the fame. There are some really bad messages out there and we don’t want that. We want people to be united and for people to spread good messages all over the world and through music, this is very possible.

TR: How has starting a business as a couple been rewarding/difficult?

Osi: Well, I think it’s been rewarding in the fact that we’re having a good time. My wife and I will go to the studio and we watch them make music, we watch the creative process. We’re watching talented people perform. It’s been fun that way. I think how it’s been bad is the amount of money. It’s quite costly doing all of this but it’s been so much fun that we don’t mind.

Leila: Sometimes we’ll bring some of the music home and listen to it again and sometimes, we’ll find things that we can change and discuss some new ideas. We dance to the songs. It’s fun.

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TR: How have your experiences with traveling the world influenced your love of music?

Osi: That’s been major because the fact that I was raised in a bunch of different continents has made me love so many different genres of music and I would say the same for Leila. She listens to everything. We don’t just listen to R&B, funk, pop or hip-hop. We grew up listening to all of that so I think that’s actually why our record label is the way it is, it’s a combination of everything because that’s realistically who we are.

TR: What was the inspiration behind your mission statement, “We can bring the world closer together through music?”

Leila: We are African. I was born and raised in Angola. I moved to England when I was 20 or 21. Osi was born in England, then moved to Nigeria and then America. Even though we were away from home, we felt welcomed by the countries that we were in.

Osi: You can look at what’s going on in the world right now and you can see how things are transpiring. This is something that is so necessary. People are talking about building walls and it seems as though an older generation is trying to split apart the unity that has been steadily progressing. What we’re trying to do is to show that that’s not the way to go, that the way to go is unifying people. People can be of so many different cultures and come together and I think that the first step is through music.

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TR: Your record-label is London-based. What do you expect the impact to be for the U.S.?

Osi: Well, we have very heavy hip-hop influences in our record label so we’re going to push our music there and plan to have a heavy presence in the United States. We’re not looking to just be here in London. We have the Internet so we can push our music globally, everywhere. Whoever likes it, likes it. If they don’t like it, that’s okay, too.

TR: Are the target audiences similar for your artists across the board?

Osi: We have different sounds for different people. We have Grace Rhodes, who is a pop artist, but she has a really clear message that I think will appeal to most people. Mikespro and Zeeko will appeal to the urban side of things, and then Andi will appeal to the more African side so we’re trying to target everyone. Today, everyone is listening to the same thing. It’s truly amazing when I watch my son with his friends, black, white, Asian… they’re all doing the same dances, listening to the same music. It’s really incredible.

TR:: Are there ways in which your careers in football and acting/modeling have helped you to prepare for creating your record label?

Osi: Playing football was tough and this business is tough as well. Given the fact that I had to go through some much adversity in order to become a professional football player, I’m quite sure Leila had to go through a bunch of things herself in order to accomplish the things that she accomplished and so we know that the industry is tough and it’s something that we’re going to have to fight and struggle through to get our message across and we’re going to do that.

 

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TR: What were some unexpected hurdles you experienced when starting your business?

Osi: Artists are really funny. Some of them are disciplined but you know, you run into some who aren’t quite as much. In our world, everything is punctual and on time and some don’t operate like that. That’s been a difficulty, but other than that, we haven’t really run into too many as of yet. Everything has just been so much fun for us that we don’t see things as being difficult.

TR: What can we expect for “The Uprise?” What do you have planned for the next 5, 10 years?

Osi: We’re going to have a YouTube channel coming out pretty soon where you’re going to be able to see myself, Leila, all of the artists and all of the things that we’re doing. We might branch out into different things. You might see apparel, clothing, you might see accessories… because it’s not just about the music. There’s an idea behind what we’re trying to do. If we’re able to get that idea out, it will make the music more impactful.

TR: Finally, can you give our readers a reference point as to who your artists sound similar to?

Osi: Grace Rhodes is really similar to Katy Perry. Andi McErnest is similar to Drake, WizKid, people of that nature. Our producers create new and unique sounds so I wouldn’t be able to compare them to anybody.

TR: Osi, Leila, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know about?

Osi: Just that our music will be coming out soon. We really appreciate all the love and the support. Just support the message, support the idea behind the music.

TR: Thank you both so much for your time.

Osi: Okay, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

Leila: Thank you so much!

Keep your ears open for exciting news from The Uprise. You can also stay tuned to the Twitter account for more information. Are you a musical talent looking for a chance to have your voice heard? Maybe you can be a part of The Uprise!

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