'On The Record': When LA Reid's sex offer was spurned by employee and he took revenge by rejecting Kanye West
Music mogul Russell Simmons has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct and rape by 20 women. To this day, he has neither been charged nor prosecuted and has repeatedly denied the allegations levied against him.
But it's not quite like an innocent person to flee to Bali, which has no extradition treaty with the US, after being accused. Nor is it like an innocent person to pressurize and intimidate Oprah Winfrey from lending her name to a documentary that was set to expose his sordid past.
HBO's 'On The Record', which premiered on the network's streaming platform on May 27, features interviews from several of Simmons' alleged victims, all of whom testified that the man the world lovingly refers to as the 'Godfather of Hip-Hop' does not deserve the adulation.
The documentary also features accusations of inappropriate conduct made against another legend of the music industry, LA Reid, who has written and produced for the likes of Avril Lavigne, Justin Beiber, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston, The Jacksons, and many, many more.
While Reid's behavior did not have any personal consequences per se, they cost him professionally in the form of signing not just Kanye West, but also John Legend, both of whom went on to become instantly recognizable global names.
The revelation was made by Drew Dixon, who had started her career in the music industry working for the A&R department of Def Jam but who was ultimately forced to quit the company after she said she was raped by Simmons.
She had then signed on to Arista Records, where, unfortunately, she was once again the target of unsolicited advances by Reid. Dixon said she had initially flourished under the tutelage of Clive Davis, working alongside names like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana, only to find herself professionally muffled after Reid took over as president and CEO of the company in 2000.
Dixon recalled that Dixon invited her to meet him at one Four Seasons hotel after leaving the studio and that when she declined, it started affecting their working relationship. She said, every time she rejected him, Reid became more and more hostile, and that he let it affect his judgment.
Kanye West was one who inadvertently bore the brunt of Reid's unprofessionalism. Dixon said she auditioned the multi-Grammy winner, who is now one of the best-selling artists of all time, to Reid but that he was rejected immediately without a second thought. And not only did he refuse to sign Kanye, he allegedly yelled at her in front of the entire staff for "wasting his time" for the next 45 minutes.
When he was done, Dixon said she went to tell Kanye, who had been in the waiting room the entire time, the bad news and that he had tears in his eyes. He went on to make his name as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he worked with several prominent artists before releasing his critically and commercially successful debut 'The College Dropout' in 2004.
Kanye was not the only artist who was spurned by Reid, because of feud with Dixon. John Legend missed out on signing for Arista Records in the most heartbreaking manner, she shared.
"John Legend was the last artist I tried to sign, back when he was still John Stephens. I scheduled an audition for him with LA [Reid] and he was really excited," she said. "We had booked a concert space two days before so he could rehearse with his band. And then LA told me he didn't want to go and he told his senior staff not to go. He passed on him. He just passed."
"So I walked in all alone and watched John perform with his band in the folding chairs," she continued. "I was the only one there. I had to tell John, 'I can't sign you, I'm so sorry.'"
Legend, of course, went on to receive the Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, won ten Grammy Awards, and became the first-ever black man to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award (EGOT).
Dixon said the incidents made her realize that unless she slept with Reid as a quid pro quo, her career was doomed and that she was left with no choice but to quit the music industry altogether.