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The Big Business of Becoming Bhad Bhabie

How a troubled Florida teenager went from the “Dr. Phil” show to signing a major-label record deal as a rapper.

Danielle Bregoli
Danielle Bregoli, a.k.a. Bhad Bhabie. Emily Shur for The New York Times

Adam Kluger had a plan to save music. It was 2008: Piracy was up, streaming hadn’t taken off and the physical album had long been eclipsed by the digital single. On top of that, it was the middle of the recession; industry people were looking for ways to make up their losses. Kluger was a fast-talking 22-year-old in Los Angeles with a dream of a product he called “brand dropping.” Rappers were constantly name-checking products — why not get the brands to pay for placement in a verse?

He peddled the concept to record executives, presenting his plan as a source of easy money. They turned him away, citing artistic integrity. He got in touch with Interscope’s vice chairman, Steve Berman, a name he knew from skits between songs on Eminem records. Berman wasn’t into brand dropping, but he did need a novel revenue stream to cover the costs of video production. He gave Kluger a list of the label’s new artists; perhaps he could make some suitable arrangements.

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Source: The New York Times, Emily Shur