Music Mogul, Richardine Bartee is Elevating Her Community

As the owner and founder of GRUNGECAKE, Richardine Bartee wears many hats. She is a celebrity publicist, a magazine publisher, radio co-host, playlist curator, and a global music entrepreneur.

Bartee is a member of the Recording Academy and is currently doing her part to elevate and support black creativity all over the world. As a Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) publisher, Richardine also owns her own record label in addition. Earlier this year, she produced Willow Creek’s first Afrobeats show on 106.7FM The Edge which saw one of the segments trend massively in Nigeria. She also hosts with DJ JD on Boston’s 87.7 FM, providing the Spotlight of the week on Afrobeats hottest tracks In The AM. Bartee in collaboration with iMullar curates the Apple Music Playlist #RATED. With over a decade of experience and a versatile skillset, Richardine knows how to build lasting legacies in the global music industry. Using her expertise, Richardine Bartee is focused on elevating the Black community around the world in tangible and meaningful ways.

How did you begin your creative career? 

I’ve always been creative. I was creative as a child. It is my nature to be creative, supportive, and ahead. It’s who I’ve been my whole life. From a young age, I was encouraged to be who I wanted to be. Through early writing courses to be a children’s book author to my Youth Speaks/Urban Word poetry slam days, I’ve had supportive people and mentors around to guide me. I believe the guidance I received from the women in my life made me comfortable enough to dare. They saw my gifts at an early age and did not want my desolate environment to end me.

As a teenager, I knew I wanted to create and innovate for the rest of my life, so I started a business: One that would ever-evolve but always remain true to who I am as an individual and an African-American person with taste. The core of my being is what inspired me to venture into the inevitable.

It is also important to note that I had two businesses as a teenager: A graphic design company with a name inspired by the rare blue-footed booby bird, and the other, GRUNGECAKE. 

What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

My favorite project to work on had to be my first magazine issue for GRUNGECAKE. I can say it with confidence because I know it is the genesis and nexus of what I’ve become in this world. At the time, I learned how strong and naive I was when it comes to others’ intentions. I got the chance to learn more about publishing and financial literacy, and human behaviors and tendencies. It has been my most excellent gift/experience in life. It is what shaped and framed my business for the future.

What has been your greatest obstacle in working in your industry?

I will list a few annoying things and tell you what has been the greatest obstacle. 

Over the years, people told me that I am not mean, rude, or conniving enough to truly thrive in the music business. That may be an accurate analogy because of its competitive environment, but all I’ve ever wanted to do is work/create and help others along the way. I am not looking to do more than I can handle. 

I also heard I could earn more money if I had a system that allowed people to patronize my business like a one-stop-shop vending machine. People think I have this huge team and that we are always together working on everything. It isn’t the case. I work alone 99.9% of the time. 

When there wasn’t a way or path for what I worked on, I made one, and that takes time. Most people/clients do not understand the time and work it takes to break through as an innovator or a pioneer—in America—as people of colour. They think it is easy for reasons unknown, but it isn’t always a walk in the park. It is possible, but it is not a magic wand doing-especially if you want longevity. I wish more people would understand that before they offer me bags of money. Doing it this way/my way is why they know who I am in the first place.

People have taken advantage of me, misused me, lied to me and others about me, stolen money and items from me, or have come with bully tactics to try to rock my world. Perhaps, it is because I am a woman, kind, open, and blessed with the ability to make a decent living from what I’ve built. It took half of my life to get where I am.

What is the greatest obstacle? It will always be the misinformation some artist teams relay to their artists. It is one of the most unfortunate consistent things I have seen over the years, and it has broken spirits. I hope that more people around the artists tell artists the truth about their careers and business. 

Who has been your greatest ally?

I thank God, MTV, New York City’s radio station Hot 97, and now, Duke Concept, the entertainment, and management company in the African music space in the United States of America.

Connect with Richardine Bartee here.

The iMullar is the definitive voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.