Brooklyn born Carl Lamarre is many things. Not only is Carl paving his way as a talented artist, he’s already solidified himself as a central figure in hip hop and music as a whole through his amazing work as Billboard’s Hip Hop Editor and as the host of series such as Audiomack’s Beyond The Beat, Grammy Conversations, & Sirius XM’s Billboard Live. To say Carl knows his way around a pen would be an understatement. Not only has Carl observed, studied and dissected the game through his work, his love and passion for hip hop is what’s motivated him to continue rapping.
We last spoke with Carl when he released his debut project, Shut Up & Write in 2020. Carl joins us today to discuss his new promotion at Billboard, his “For The Family” music video and what he’s got on the way. “For The Family” is the first single and video from his upcoming project The Honeymoon is Over. Carl gives us the exclusive on his new role and what we can expect from his upcoming project. We also caught up with Billboard’s Executive Director of Music, Jason Lipshutz to discuss Carl’s promotion, “Throughout his time at Billboard, Carl has demonstrated an exceptional knowledge and passion for hip-hop and R&B coverage, with a commitment to both reporting on major stories and championing new artists and trends. I’m proud to work with him, and am excited to see his professional growth continue!” Find out what else Carl has in store in our interview below!
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us about your promotion from Hip-Hop Editor to Deputy Director of R&B/Hip-Hop at Billboard and what all your new role entails?
My promotion is essentially a level-up phase in my career. I feel like I’ve graduated from my role of hip-hop editor a long-time ago and I now see myself as not just a face and leader of our R&B / Hip-Hop division, but a potential leader of the brand itself alongside our great staff. I credit our top dog and Executive Director of R&B / Hip-Hop Gail Mitchell for her tutelage and support, my boss Jason “Captain Billboard” Lipshutz and of course my esteemed R&B / Hip-Hop team for getting me to this point. l’ve always envisioned myself as a leader and someone who relishes a challenge. So my goal is to propel the brand to even higher heights. I’m going to continue doing more front-facing work, tackling bigger editing assignments and elevating our brand the best way I know how because the job isn’t finished.
The Knockturnal: Can you share some of the roles you play outside of Billboard?
Carl Lamarre: I also work with Audiomack. I have a podcast called Beyond the Beat, which caters to producers. Our first season, we had Hit-Boy & Murda Beatz, Hitmaka, J. White. We did a live Beyond the Beat episode with DJ Khaled. It’s been picking up a lot of steam. I’m super happy about that. We already started season two. First episode was with London On Da Track. I’m also a host for the Grammy Conversations which return in July, we’ve had NAS and Hit-Boy, DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Migos. We have a whole new lineup coming up this year. Then radio – Sirius XM, Billboard Live. We got that going on and you know, I’ve just been working with other companies as well, Amazon music. I’ve also got another live series and podcast on the verge of being finalized this summer.
The Knockturnal: I know music is something that’s always been a passion of yours, whether it was creating music or writing about it, but did you ever imagine that you would go from editor to host? You’re essentially becoming a media personality!
Carl Lamarre: Yeah. I mean, that was kind of the goal back in 2020, when we had the pandemic and, you know, I started doing some zoom interviews because I realized – I don’t wanna say I fully hit that ceiling of writer/editor, but I was at a point where I wanted to challenge myself even more. And I said, you know, one way I would be able to do it is by being on camera, hosting, because I think I have a great personality to match the pen. I just need people to see it. It was kind of always part of the plan, but for it to bubble the way it has to where I have two podcasts, I have a radio show, and different hosting opportunities, The Grammys – it’s kind of mind boggling, so I’m super grateful and I have a great team
The Knockturnal: That’s great to hear! You’re really turning yourself into a brand, and not everyone can make that transition easily. How would you say your career path and everything that you’re able to do professionally affects your content creation? Or even just your thought process behind a rollout?
Carl Lamarre: As far as the music, it’s always been a priority and I had to make sure that it still is despite whatever obligations I have going on from my 9-5 or from my side gigs. It’s something I enjoy doing. it’s not like it’s a task where it’s like, ‘okay, I gotta write a song today.’ It’s something that gives me freedom, helps me grow creatively and it gives me peace. I always make it a priority to tell my team like, ‘hey guys, I need to put out some music I’m itching,’ and that’s what ended up happening with Shut up & Write. Like I quickly got back into writing and putting together a project and the project’s been done. I’ve been sitting on it, to be honest with you, for the last year. It was just a matter of timing and trying to figure out a strategic rollout.
The Knockturnal: Like I mentioned earlier, you’ve been working nonstop. Out of everything you’ve been able to do so far this year, what’s excited you the most?
Carl Lamarre: Thank you. I would probably say the CMG press conference, I typically don’t get nervous, you know, but with Yo Gotti, he is probably one of the most meticulous businessmen in the industry and he’s very much involved in everything that he does, and I’ve known this about Gotti since I’ve met him. Like this press conference, obviously he let me rock, he let me do what I do, but I remember just minutes going into it, he brought me upstairs. He was like, ‘yo, so how are we gonna do this? I needa know play by play.’ He didn’t ask what my questions are or anything, but he was just very involved, and I love that and that speaks to him as an executive and why I think CMG is the hottest label right now in hip hop.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about your upcoming Hulu collaboration and how it came about?
The programmers reached out to me about hosting a potential conversation. Right now, I can’t say much, but we do have something special in the works for Black Music Month with a legendary hip-hop artist. I’m excited and I know true hip-hop fans will be too.
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us about your latest single, “For The Family” and the inspiration behind it and the video?
Carl Lamarre: “For the Family,” shout out to my producer, Hamza, so he actually executive produced entire project. It’s gonna be 13 songs, he did like 10 of them and we have literally never met. I met him through somebody from my team, my boy Rafael. I don’t know me and him just kind of hit it off, it started off as one, two tracks and then it started as him creating the whole project and kind of understanding my delivery, my tone, my sound and “For the Family” wasn’t even supposed to be the single and everything happened by chance. Like the day I shot the video it was supposed to be for “Ride with Me,” from Shut Up & Write. The reason why we ended up doing the switcheroo was because the main girl for the “Ride with Me” video ended up canceling last minute. I was like, ‘all right so what are we gonna do?’ I had my videographer from Toronto, Saint, staying with me. He was leaving like in a day or two. I’m in my fit, I’m ready to go, but it was cold as shit and Mark Elibert who writes for Hiphop DX, he helped executive produce the last project and he said, ‘yo, bro, why don’t you do “For the Family?”’ And I was like, ‘you know what? That could work!’ Because my team, at least the ones that heard the project, that was a favorite for them. I just thought this could work because I was in a very family-esque mood being with my home team, chilling with them that week. Mark ended up having a dope show that he hosted, and it was a festive vibe that I think people would love and appreciate. As far as the actual record, so Hamza ended up remixing the original record we had, he just flipped the beat, and it was a whole different track. And he was like, you know what, I have a better idea. I’m gonna put a different beat under your vocals and you tell me how it sounds, and it just fit. Everything has been by chance. Fortunately, it’s just been working, you know? Shout out to the home team, Mark, my manager Alex, my videographer and producer just bringing this all together. For the video we did all of these shots and that’s my first video in like 10, 12 years, so to get back in that element, Saint guided me and instructed me, and we ended up shooting the second half of the video in my apartment.
The Knockturnal: Have you landed on a title yet for your upcoming project?
Carl Lamarre : I’ve been sitting on the title for a minute, it’s gonna be called The Honeymoon Is Over. Shout out to my engineer Mark Matter, he’s also an artist as well. I recorded literally my whole project in my living room. Shut Up & Right, was my debut project, The Honeymoon Is Over is where the training wheels are off for this I want you guys to really see what I’m about as an artist. No more games. I’m gonna come with some real bars. I’m gonna come with some real songs. Everything is gonna be top notch.
The Knockturnal: Your debut project is only on SoundCloud, will this forthcoming project be on all DSPs?
Carl Lamarre: All DSPs.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any features on The Honeymoon Is Over?
Carl Lamarre: I have two features. I kept it very, very minimal. I have a singer named Jessica Lamarre. She’s my cousin. She’s freaking fire, then I have Mark Matter and I did like a real summertime, pop kind of vibe with him. I also have DJ Drama, he did the intro and outro for my project – for the inner kid in me like freaking Gangsta Grillz – and then he’s coming off the Tyler The Creator project.
The Knockturnal: That’s iconic! How did you and DJ Drama connect?
Carl Lamarre: So this was around last May. I went to Atlanta and I was doing some stuff for Audiomack. This was a part of our Own The Label series where we actually did Gotti for one of them. Then we were like let’s do Generation Now with Don Cannon, Lake and DJ Drama. We were in the studio probably six, seven hours. We were just talking, chopping it up about music and it got to the point where Drama started playing unreleased music and this was where he actually played us, the Uzi, Tyler, Pharrell record before the project came out. In my mind I was like if I get an opportunity to talk to Drama about my music, I’m gonna at least try and shoot my shot. So I’m sitting there with him and Don cannon and I’m like, ‘yo you know I rap too, right?’ so I end up playing the outro from the project and I see Drama and, and Don (nodding their heads) and they’re like, ‘okay!’ so I end up asking Drama, flat out like, ‘yo, bro, you think I can get some vocals?’ and he’s like, ‘yeah, I got you.’ Normally when that happens in the moment I, I, I was worried it like, yeah, I got you. And I’m in my mind. I’m like, he probably said, I got you, and before I left Lake was, ‘yo, did you get the vocals from drama? Make sure you send them to him.’ I appreciated the added pressure and I remember sending him the vocals and this is my birthday now in June, I’m in St. Thomas and I’m in my Airbnb and Drama hits me back like, ‘yo, I sent you the vocals.’ I brought my speakers with me and I’m literally looking at the water, looking at the ocean, playing the intro to my project and now I hear the DJ drama vocals and I didn’t know what to do so he blessed me on the intro and outro.
The Knockturnal: Your work allows you access to amazing talent and producers, have you thought about utilizing any more of your network for the project?
Carl Lamarre: I had another record on the project where it actually flips “Return of the Mack” and I was gonna try to get Ross on it, but I wanted to hold that for like a remix. I remember talking to him briefly about it, but I wanted to make sure, with this project, to stay feature free from the rap side because I wanna show people I’m capable of doing this and I’m worthy of a verse, not because of who I am, but what I can do, rapping wise.