Che Pope became head of Kanye West label after a missed opportunity to make millions on Lauryn Hill’s iconic album

Abu Mubarik February 19, 2024
Che Pope. Photo via Facebook/Che Pope

In 2021, Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” album joined the diamond-certified club. She joined the likes of 2Pac, Outkast, and Eminem to have sold 10 million copies of an album.

As per the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), there are over 100 diamond-certified albums. Hill is also the first female rapper to achieve a Diamond-selling record, although other women have achieved the rare feat, including Adele for “21” and Britney Spears for “…Baby One More Time”, according to NME.

The release of Hill’s album made immediate success, selling 422,624 copies in its first week, debuting at Number One in the U.S. charts, peaking at Number Two in the UK, and selling an estimated 20 million copies internationally.

Released in 1998, Hill’s album earned her five Grammys at the 1999 Grammy Awards, including being the first hip-hop artist to win “Album of the Year”. One of the people behind the success of Hill’s album was Che Pope, the former COO of Kanye West’s record label, GOOD Music.

Highlighting his role in the hit album during the 25th anniversary of the album, Pope noted that he was not paid. He was speaking as a panelist during Black Tech Weekend in Detroit, MI.

“I probably made 20% of the money that I should have made on the record,” he said, according to AfroTech. “I should’ve made millions and whatever amount of money. I probably made in the neighborhood of $700,000 total, whereas I probably should’ve made like $7 million.”

However, the Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter who produced Hill’s “To Zion” and “Lost Ones” shared that the experience he gained helped him become a successful record executive.

“That’s a big lesson,” he said. “That’s college tuition for my children and so forth, but it led me to become an executive. That’s actually why I became a music executive because I wanted to know the business inside and out.”

After his business with Hill, Pope went on to work with other big artists including Dr. Dre and The Weeknd before heading Kanye West’s GOOD Music as COO.

He left in 2018 before launching WRKSHP with billionaire Dan Gilbert in Detroit in January 2022 with a mission to disrupt the traditional record label model and empower musicians. Nonetheless, Pope noted that the beginning was not easy, particularly when it came to funding.

“Coming in and meeting investors was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “And I did it during the [COVID-19] pandemic and walked into rooms with people who knew nothing about the music business.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 19, 2024


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