The ART@WAR label name was inspired by Sun Tzu’s similarly named military treatise, The Art Of War. And that is deliberate. “It’s called ART@WAR because Art is at war now and we’re ready and willing to go to war for our artists… to get their messages out there.”
McMillan’s vision is to build a culturally relevant roster, invest in artists and collaboratively build them into multi-tiered brands. “I’m excited about the opportunity to help young people realize their dreams and become megastars in multiple areas,” McMillan says of his new label venture with Atlantic Records.
In addition to the label, McMillan manages select artists under ART@WAR’s management division, which currently includes YK Osiris, a rising star signed to Def Jam (Jas Prince co-manages with him).
Working closely with MGK, who most recently played Tommy Lee in the Netflix version of the Motley Crue biopic, The Dirt, McMillan was a vital part in bringing the Cleveland rapper into multiple mediums- film, music, fashion, sports and more.
“A lot of musicians don’t realize how much power they have and how much those different worlds intersect,” McMillan says. “And when we’re able to find the artist with the right talent that can impact all those different areas, if it’s cross pollinated properly, it can be very impactful and we can have a real serious success story.”
True to Sun Tzu’s words of wisdom, “There are more than five musical notes, yet the combination of those five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.” ART@WAR is in the business of signing multi-dimensional artists whose talents extend beyond music. Much like he did with MGK, McMillan wants to partner with artists to build sustainable brands, “not just in music, but paying for acting classes, building touring businesses… investing in the artist beyond the music.”
And the label is off to an auspicious start with YBN, the rap collective that came together through their shared love of the game Grand Theft Auto as McMillan explains. “These guys are all from different parts of the country,” he says. “Nahmir is from Birmingham, Alabama, Almighty Jay is from Houston and Cordae is from Maryland. But they all connected via the internet playing Grand Theft Auto.”
Their passion for music solidified their bond and is putting ART@WAR on the map. To date Nahmir’s song, “Bounce Out With That” and “Rubbin Off The Paint” have each gone Platinum; Cordae “Kung Fu” is “Gold;” the collective YBN “The Mixtape” is Gold; and management client’s YK Osiris, “Worth It” and “Valentine” have both gone Gold. The ART@WAR team is currently working with Atlantic to launch their newest signing, SK8.
As a long time advocate for artists, ART@WAR Label and Management will fight for the art, for the artist’s vision- for them to be heard and seen- because as much as McMillan possesses a strong business acumen, his experience and life are grounded in culture. His grandparents toured with Nat King Cole, his uncle played drums for the Spinners and he grew up with the O’Jay’s kids, Gerald and Shawn Levert. So he has a deep understanding and appreciation for music that is authentic, speaks to the heart and connects with the soul. That love of music transcends era and genre. “We’re looking for stars from all genres.”
As someone with a very clear vision, which McMillan clearly possesses of the changing mores of the music and entertainment industries, he is most excited to partner with artists who share a similar ambition and determination.
McMillan has learned a lot from his mentors P. Diddy, Jas Prince and those who come before him like Berry Gordy and Clive Davis, and he has lofty goals for the ART@War umbrella. And it goes well beyond platinum records and sold-out tours. He wants to carve out a place in pop culture history for his artists.