Twenty-Something Talks Business: Owner of Black And Mobile Shares The Key To Running A Successful Business

Black And Mobile

Source: Black and Mobile / David Cabello

Now of days, many people are dropping the traditional 9-5 to become their own boss.

According to research conducted by Wealth-X, 25 million Americans were starting or already running their own business in 2016.

Related: The Best Black Friday Beauty Deals From Black-Owned Businesses

But exactly how does one start and maintain a successful business?

C.E.O of Black and Mobile, David Cabello shares exactly how he started the very first black-owned delivery service.

The 24-year-old entrepreneur admits that he first learned how to start a business from watching Youtube videos after dropping out of Shippensburg University in 2016.

“I majored in Business in college, so I always knew that I would become a business owner. I left college because I wanted to help the black community and realized that school couldn’t teach me how to do that.”

The Philly-based native says that he soon discovered his niche in business when he began delivering for UberEats and Postmates, making over $1,100 in under 48 hours.

It was here that he and his twin brother, Aaron set out to create Black and Mobile, which is set to expand to Detriot in 2020.

 

When asked about the future, Cabello says he already has his eye on establishing his delivery service to larger cities like New York and Atlanta.

“I started this business at the age of 21 and, now I have over 500 people signed up to work for me.”

Check out Cabello’s tips on how to start a business in the latest episode of Twenty-Something below. Also, support his business by downloading the fast-food delivery app.

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Harlem Incubators Nurturing Vibrant Start-Up Scene

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series that examines entrepreneurship in Harlem, where NewsOne looks inside a few of the community’s business incubators. In Part 2, NewsOne explores how gentrification is helping to shape that growth.

Promptly at 7 p.m., Gina Ramcharan started a marketing lesson for her class of African-American female entrepreneurs.

The group of 25 women, from Millennials to Baby Boomers, filled a nicely renovated co-working space on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. Many of them, after a full day of work, arrived with cups of coffee and snacks to help energize them through the evening.

They meet every Monday night for an intensive 12-week business incubator program for African-American women called the Lillian Project, organized by the Harlem Business Alliance. These businesswomen are part of the wave of entrepreneurs in Harlem who are revitalizing the historic mecca of African-American culture.

Lillian Project 2

Source: Nigel Roberts/Lillian Project entrepreneurs.


Following The Steps Of ‘Pig Foot Mary’

Harlem Business Alliance, which has fostered and advocated for Harlem’s Black-owned businesses for three decades, is a cornerstone in the business community.

The Lillian Project is named for Lillian Harris Dean, aka “pig foot Mary,” an entrepreneur who came to Harlem in 1901 from Mississippi and built a successful soul food business on her meager wages as a maid.

The first cohort, which graduates in December, is learning the nuts and bolts of starting and operating a successful business. It’s also a sisterhood in which the businesswomen encourage each other and share ideas.

Lillian Project 2

Source: Nigel Roberts/Lillian Project entrepreneurs.


The businesses range from an environmentally conscious entrepreneur building a clothing line from recycled fabrics to another who plans to launch an alcohol-infused cupcake business.

A few of them, like Agzja Carey and Deondra Carter, plan to launch B Corps, a new category for companies that have a core social mission while also making profit.

Ramcharan said the selection committee chose Carter and Carey from among more than 100 applicants, in part, for their vision to create unique businesses that also fill community needs.

Gina Ramcharan

Source: Nigel Roberts / Gina Ramcharan teaches a marketing lesson for Lillian Project entrepreneurs.


Carey said she created the Sanaa Project LLC, an umbrella company for her education services, to deliver quality, innovative, cultural content that’s tailored to students and families of color.

She’s successfully provided programming under one of her brands, Crayons & Culture, in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. With a new contract for services in Harlem, Carey said the Lillian Project is helping her to design an effective business model and to formulate a strategic plan for her expansion.

Cary, an experienced entrepreneur and social activist since 13, said education is her profession, but community organizing is at the core of what she does. The company’s mission is to “build institutions that redistribute the wealth and power among the Black community.”

According to Ramcharan, many of Harlem’s growing number of affluent Black residents take their children outside the community for school and have to look elsewhere for the cultural context of their education.

Services And Products Tailored For People Of Color

Carter, a real estate agent, wants to tackle the housing affordability problem—a growing challenge not just in Harlem, but also throughout New York City.

“I sell luxury condos and multi-million dollar renovated houses. But I see the need to help keep longtime residents in the community,” she said.

Carter’s company, Co-Own Inc., will offer clients affordable housing options through collective purchasing power.

She has an “entrepreneurial gene,” inherited from her mother, experience operating small businesses, and has worked in marketing and financial services. The Lillian Project is helping her flesh out the details of her business plan.

In another part of the community, John Henry, managing director of Cofound Harlem, one of the community’s newest business incubators, is planting the seeds to create not just new businesses in Harlem, but also jobs and economic growth.

He negotiated a deal with a Harlem developer, who was committed to the community’s business development, to provide free space for the incubator and the new companies. In addition to rent-free space, Cofound offers its participants $50,000 of in-kind services and mentorship. Henry said he was able to get large companies, like Amazon and Google, to buy into their vision.

In exchange, the businesses in Cofound’s incubator must commit to staying in Harlem for at least four years.

The first cohort completed the 9-month program, which Henry calls a work in progress that he and his partners are fine-tuning. They selected just four companies out of about 150 applicants.

Henry said Cofound selected Creatr as one of the four companies in the incubator for a few reasons: team dynamics, great concept and proven track record.

Creatr is an online education platform, currently for photography but with a vision for additional virtual training in more intricate online design tools.

Team Creatr

Source: Jamall Oluokan / R-L Jamall Oluokan, Shomari Miller and Jason DePeaux


Strategy Is The Name Of The Game

Jamall Oluokun, CEO of Creatr, told NewsOne that the idea came from the experience of operating Papercutmag.com, in which users submit photographs. He and his partners noticed that the quality of uploaded photographs was poor and decided to offer training through a membership-based site.

We’re at the launch stage,” said Oluokun, who has years of experience working in the technology media space and is optimistic about his company’s future. “Our mentors have been instrumental in the areas of networking and guiding us in marketing and distribution.”

Silicon Harlem is also nurturing business growth in the community. It’s a for-profit company that is laying the infrastructure—both human and technological—to transform Harlem into an attractive venue for the tech industry.

Cofounder and CEO Clayton Banks explained that his company offers a virtual program. The organization advises companies, sits on their boards and helps them attract capital. Companies in its incubator range from financial technology to Internet of Things and digital education platforms.

Together, these incubators—and others scattered throughout the community—are nurturing the next generation of Harlem’s business leaders.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Nigel Roberts

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The Surprising Business Move Nas Just Made [EXCLUSIVE AUDIO]

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Nas teamed up with Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing, along with some top of the line brands, to release a Ghostbusters clothing line. Celebrating the highly anticipated all-female reboot heading to theaters sometime this year, the clothing line is also a personal ode to movies for Nas, who says he’s a longtime Ghostbusters fan himself.

According to Vibe, the collection will be available for purchase in Los Angeles at the Rose Helman and at Colette in Paris. Click on the audio player for to hear more about Nas’ involvement in the project and his personal connection to it, in this exclusive audio from the Ed Lover Show.

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Whoopi Goldberg Launches New Medical Marijuana Company For Women

Comedian Whoopi Goldberg is looking to switch up the narrative and respectability politics surrounding the marijuana business with a line of products geared towards those who suffer from menstrual cramps.

According to USA Today, Goldberg announced Wednesday (Mar. 30) her new line of products under the name “Whoopi & Maya” include marijuana-infused balms, a tincture, sipping chocolate, and bath soaks to help reduce the pain and cramps periods can bring. For now, the brand will only be available in California dispensaries.

Via USA Today:

“I want to go nice and slow with this. I don’t want this to be a joke to people. It’s not a joke to women,” Goldberg told USA TODAY.

The joke lies in the public’s reaction to celebrities endorsing marijuana products. While hip-hop acts like Kurupt, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have products in the field, Goldberg’s stance on the drug’s usage is one of the first mainstream endorsements to date, NBC News reports. The View co-host is unapologetic in her support of marijuana and its positive effects.

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Critics are in favor of Goldberg’s new business venture and hope there will be growth among African-Americans in the legal business of marijuana. Less than one percent of marijuana dispensaries are owned by Black people, due to lack of loans available for the marijuana business and the underlying notion that action taken in the field can be seen as criminal behavior.

NBC News reports:

“I think it’s huge,” Art Way, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance in Colorado, told MSNBC on Wednesday. “It helps the industry and only brings more credibility to the industry.” He believes that Goldberg could help erase the “respectability politics” stigma around legal drug selling which does exist in some segments of the black community.

Goldberg says she’s not in it to become the new face of marijuana, but to simply make women (or men who would like to try it) feel comfortable. “For me, I feel like if you don’t want to get high high, this is a product specifically just to get rid of discomfort,” she tells Vanity Fair on Wednesday. “Smoking a joint is fine, but most people can’t smoke a joint and go to work.”

A launch date for her products has not been announced.

SOURCE: NBC News, USA Today | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform

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Behind The Hip Hop: EPMD [EXCLUSIVE AUDIO]

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Often, when our favorite artists get popular, their come-up gets obscured behind their explosion onto the scene. But the truth is, your favorite artist was hustling long before their “overnight success.” In The Ed Lover Show‘s “Behind The Hip Hop” segment, you get a close look into the hustle of today’s hottest artists and how they worked to make a name for themselves.

Click on the audio player above to hear about EPMD‘s come up, from their small Long Island town to their first album, “Strickly Business,” to their deal with Def Jam! Find out how EPMD went from dreaming to churning out albums, forming The Hit Squad and getting through breaking up and making up to tour around the world, in this exclusive audio!

Michael Jordan Has Made More Money Selling His Famed Sneakers Than He Did During NBA Career

Celebrated NBA icon Michael Jordan continues to win with his popular Air Jordan brand.

According to Bleacher Report, the former Chicago Bulls player has made more money selling his signature Nike sneakers than he did during his NBA career. In 2014, the businessman made $100 million dollars from his Air Jordan brand — he only raked in $94 million during his 15-year-career.

Jordan is slated to have an even more profitable 2015. Several releases of old favorites are coming up this fall, as well as a collaboration with rapper Drake called Air Jordan 10 OVO.

PBS points out that since Nike’s partnership with Jordan began in the mid ’80s, the company’s revenue has continued to grow. The brand makes up 90 percent of the industry’s basketball shoe sales. Overall, footwear has made $34 billion dollars in the United States.

Currently, New York’s Brooklyn Museum is featuring a collection of Air Jordan kicks for its Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibition. Running until October, the exhibit features shoes from Adidas, Converse, and other high-end luxury footwear that has been influential in pop culture.

Find out more about the exhibit here.

SOURCE: Bleacher Report | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN

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Don’t Miss Our Hottest Stories! Get The NewsOne Flip App for iPhone: Flip, Skip — Or Send Us a Tip!

How One Bad Perm Launched A Natural Hair Company

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Ten years ago, a bad relaxer led a teen girl to launch her own natural hair product company.

Jasmine Lawrence appeared on “The Oprah Show” back in 2007. She told the story of how a bad hair experience encouraged her to never use harsh chemicals again and, eventually, create her own line of natural products. Recently OWN’s “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” caught up with Jasmine to discuss how her business grew.

“This year… EDEN BodyWorks turns 10 years old,” Jasmine says in the above video. “It’s crazy to think we started just in my kitchen and in my basement at home in New Jersey!”

After the “Oprah Show” aired, Jasmine’s products received a lot of attention. “Retailers were interested in carrying the products,” she says. “Initially, it was just Wal-Mart stores, but it grew into Sally’s Beauty Supply Store, into Walgreens, into lots of different local places around the country.”

The company is reportedly worth 2 million dollars, but Jasmine says the money hasn’t changed much in terms of her lifestyle. “I don’t live as if I was a millionaire,” she says with a laugh. “I have a normal phone. I drive a car that’s from 2008 that I’m still making payments on, I’m paying my own college tuition — just normal things so I can have the regular experiences of life.”

Since graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science, Jasmine has also pursued her childhood interest in robotics. “I did a robotic project where I taught this robot named Simon to have favorite colors. I worked with robotic nurses and robotic dancers to help patients with their physical therapy,” she says. “I love programming and using code and computer science to build things that help people.” Read more from HuffPo.

5 Apps That Will Help You Build Your Business Like A Boss

App For That.jpg

Nowadays there is an app for virtually everything you can think of. This includes food and spirits delivery, movie times and locations, mixes put together by your favorite DJ, keeping up with your health insurance premiums and claims, banking, etc.  Anything you want and/or need to get done may be completed by simply pressing a couple of buttons or tabs on your smartphone or tablet. The only time I step foot in a bank now is when I lose my debit card and need to get it replaced immediately, otherwise, it is so convenient to just bank from my phone for everything else.  Additionally, when I want to hear music or order a Philly cheese steak from up the block, I just pull out my phone and do so, rarely needing to go to a computer to retrieve what I want.

Must Read: Download Our ‘#FaborFug” APP NOW! Swipe & Vote On Your Favorite Celeb Looks & Styles!

These days many entrepreneurs and companies alike are feverishly developing and releasing the newest and most up-to-date apps to keep up with consumer needs and desires.  Though many have recognized the marketplace for extensive development in this area, there are numerous roadblocks and challenges to getting it up and running.  One particular roadblock, as explained by Carlos Thomas, CEO and Founder of Bezzirk, is “financing and finding a reputable team.”

If you are an entrepreneur, or an officer at a company seeking to expand the present business horizons by offering an app to smartphone and tablet users, here are five tips to keep in mind to land a successful digital extension of your products and services.

  1. Offer a Product or Service That People Want and Need. If your underlying product or service is crappy, no consumer is going to come checking for the app. Having an app, just to have an app, is pointless if there is no demand or desire for what you are offering.  Be original, be creative, yet, remain true to any current customers and target demos you already have.
  1. Engage and Include All of Your Customers.  Be certain that the functionality of the app is alluring, attractive, and useful to and for your target audience and potential customers.  If there is a way to build in mechanisms that allow a continuous extension and invitation to friends and family of current users, then, by all means, include those. Additionally, be certain that the app is available for most, if not all, smartphones and tablets currently dominating the market.  You wouldn’t want anybody to feel left out.
  1. Seek Outside Assistance If Needed.  This includes fundraising and development. If you have a great idea for an app, but have no clue as to how to get started and/or how you can pay for its development, seek help.  As this proves to be one of the most challenging aspects when developing an app, be certain to properly allocate enough time in seeking both so as to not miss the opportunity.
  1. Promote and Market Consistently.  As with the launch of anything, you don’t want your company and/or business to spend a considerable amount of time and money allocated towards the launch of an app, yet fail to consider or budget for its continuous promotion and marketing.  Sure, there is big buzz for the first couple of weeks leading up to, and after, its release, but what about weeks and/or months down the line when the excitement for this “new” offering starts to fizzle? Be certain you plan appropriately for short-term and long-term marketing and promotion of your app so there may be a continued interest brewing.
  1. Track, Measure and Don’t Forget Your Website.  As with all offerings, you want to ascertain what is working and what is not working.  What interface interests consumers and which ones do not? How many hits are you getting for both the app, and for your existing website? Keeping up with and measuring all progress or failures will assist in continued development of updates to maintain interest from both consumers and potential customers.

 

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com).  She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC. 

 

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Cha-Ching: 5 Ways To Make Your Social Media A Source Of Income

woman-social-mediaSo you have decided to start a small business and want to find the best and most effective means of connecting with and procuring customers via your social media accounts. What may be easy for those who already utilize the portals of social media may be difficult for others who have no interest and/or working knowledge of just how they may benefit their company’s bottom line.

Must Read: 5 Reasons To Visit ‘The Happiest Place On Earth’

If you are looking to capitalize on potential customers from social media, here are five tips that may assist in leading you to greater market share for your business.

1) Define and Identify Who Your Target Market Is

A great thing about social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, is you have access to the friends and followers of those you are currently already in contact with. It may be easier to build your network of followers or colleagues by simply researching who is already within your reach. Based upon the service or product that you are providing, or looking to launch, identification of the exact demographic can help streamline you directly to those who may be interested in buying from you.

2) Improve Your Social Media Look

Is your company logo on your page or set as your profile picture? Have you included all pertinent information for a potential customer to determine the exact product or service you have to offer? Is the content you are putting forth neat and of quality standards so potential customers would want to immediately buy from you? Do you have updated contact information listed on your page? If not, most customers will not look any further into supporting your business. The best way to pique the interest of a potential customer is to bring them in with eye catching and interesting content. Be certain to provide an updated, neat and informative bevy of information to continue to draw in potential customers.

SEE ALSO: Join Hundreds Of Black Bloggers In New York City For Blogging While Brown 2014!

3) Engage With Target Market By Offering Something Exclusive

Identify the multitude of information or content that no other competitor is privy to, and offer that on your social media pages. Whether you are selling jewelry, donuts, legal services and/or lifestyle and fashion advice, whatever sets you apart from your competitors, draw potential customers in by offering exclusive sneak peeks of what you do different from the rest. By being the only purveyor of such information, interested customers have no choice but to come directly to you to get it. This is the perfect opportunity to pull in the interest of new customers and offer your products and services to them.

4) Engage Frequently, But Not Obsessively

Some small businesses have outsourced the management of social media endeavors to others, and this is not a bad idea. If you have recognized that you do not have the time or interest to consistently engage potential customers with offers, exclusives and other information, then outsource it. You want to ensure that your presence is felt often, but not to the point of being overbearing and annoying.

5) Use Social Media for Market Research

It is quite possible to engage followers and potential customers in conversations on social media to assist you and your business in understanding desires and needs of those who may one day need your product or services. By having access to your followers and subscribers, attempt to extract information from them that can assist in making what you offer the best it can be.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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4 Major Things To Consider Before Going Into Business With Loved Ones

office-romanceI have personally been approached to enter into business ventures with others on several occasions. A former boyfriend suggested that we start a business together in the entertainment industry offering services for music clearances and managing media content, and a dear girlfriend and former roommate and I decided to start a media business as well.

I had trepidation surrounding the decision to go into business with the ex-boyfriend, not because he was not talented, but because he was not reliable in our relationship. Yes, this man, in my opinion, is a genius. However, in our relationship, he never knew if he was coming or going, so I saw that as a sign that we would not be able to fully develop and nurture something together for the sake of business.

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My good girlfriend and I, on the other hand, took all necessary steps to form a company and actually made good strides until life hit. The recession, a divorce, child care and just tending to every day responsibilities kind of put our endeavors on the back burner.

Since then, I have gotten married and started my own legal practice. To date, my husband comes up with some really great ideas that I know we can breathe life into and make significant income from, but again, our focus is on other things.

So how should you determine if it’s the right time and right person to enter into a business venture?

Here are four issues to consider before making that commitment:

1)     Be Realistic.

Just because you love your potential business partner, does not mean you throw all business acumen out of the window. If that person is not reliable as a friend or relative, 9 times out of 10, they will not be reliable as a business partner. Trust your gut when entertaining proposals and solicitations for either monetary investments and/or physical or intangible assets. The last thing you want to do is lose money, time and a loved one due to a failed venture.

 

2)     Get Everything In Writing.

Yes, she is your mother, but business is business. I have found those who make a fuss about putting agreements in writing aren’t fully committed to a venture. You have to have difficult conversations about who will provide initial funding and/or sweat equity in building the business and also who owns what percentage. It’s best to have these discussions at the onset so you can determine if this is the best thing for you before investing too much time and energy.

 

3)     Be Professional.

There is some sort of ease about entering into a business venture with someone you know and love on a personal level; however, you must maintain a sense of professionalism when making business decisions. Maintain timely corporate minutes and records. Open a business account. Follow rules put in place in your Operating Agreement and/or Bylaws.

 

4)     Be Aware of Tax Benefits and/or Ramifications.

This is important when starting a business with a spouse. The IRS allows for certain business status elections, specifically allowing spousal businesses to elect to file as two separate sole proprietorships under a single business umbrella thereby making all issues surrounding income, gains, losses, deductions and credit separate for each spouse. Speak with an accountant prior to setting up an entity to ensure you are making the best fiscal decisions for your family.

 

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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The Dream Departs From Def Jam Records

 

the-dream-the-love-iv-tracklist.jpgThere are new beginnings in 2014 for singer-songwriter and all around music jack-of-all-trades The Dream. He announced yesterday via Instagram that he was ending his six year partnership with Def Jam Records.

In his Instagram message, The Dream posted a photo of Def Jam’s logo with the caption, “I will miss this logo. It all started here! Love Everything that I achieved there, EXODUS THE-DREAM #exodusthedream.”

The Dream has come a long way with the record company. He released five successful album since 2007, wrote some of Rihanna’s biggest hits including “Umbrella,” and became President of A&R in 2012. As A&R President, The Dream helped guide the albums of Rihanna, Mariah Carey, and Justin Bieber.

A reason for the split wasn’t given. However, people have begun speculating that Terius Nash will be starting his own label. Nothing has been confirmed or denied so we have to wait and see what The Dream has up his sleeve.


Source

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Diddy Taking His Talents To The Tequila Business

rappers-that-went-to-college-p-diddyMusic mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is tossing his hat into another business. The entertainer is reportedly getting into the tequila business with a high-end company.

Diddy is teaming up with tequila brand DeLeon Tequila. The prices range from $140 to $825 a bottle. Although very little is known about the deal and Diddy’s actual involvement, we do know Diddy is set to launch the partnership at his annual New Year’s Eve party on Star Island in Miami.

Once Combs makes the official announcement about his partnership with Deleon Tequila, his business portfolio will be extra lucrative. Diddy makes a pretty penny off of his clothing line Sean John, his deal with Ciroc vodka, and other business ventures.

He can’t stop and he won’t stop and we’re just going to have to take that, take that.

Source

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T.I. Moves Grand Hustle To Columbia Records

T.I. On StageAfter dealing with Atlantic Records for more than a decade, Atlanta rapper T.I. is taking his Grand Hustle stable of talent to another major label. It was recently announced that T.I. signed a distribution deal with Columbia Records, which is the home of Beyonce and John Legend.

 

Believe it or not, the deal came to pass because of Pharrell Williams. Sk8board P pushed for T.I. to sign with Columbia and urged Columbia to enter into the partnership.Williams is also set to executive produce the King of the South’s next album, which will be his ninth. Besides working with Pharrell, Tip has also logged studio time with DJ Toomp and Timbaland.

The Chairman/CEO of Columbia Records Rob Stringer said of the new partnership, “We’re very excited to welcome T.I. to the Columbia family. With his massive U.S. success and career history, we are going to make him an even bigger superstar on a global level.”

When asked about the new deal, T.I. stated, “I’m honored to be partners with such a successful, passionate and creative conglomerate like Columbia Records, who respects and supports the vision of their artist and partners. Nothing but love, respect, and appreciation for Doug Morris, Rob Stringer, and the entire staff. Also, a special thank you to my big bruh, Sk8board P, for always believing in me and also executive producing my upcoming project.”

While signed to Atlantic, Tip became one of the biggest rap stars out. He’s sold more than 14 million albums and over 30 million singles. We can’t wait to see what type of material this partnership produces.

Source

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From Marcy To Manhattan: Are We Expecting Too Much From Shawn “Jay Z” Carter? [OPINION]

A Split Screen of Jay Z In the 90s and now

 

As far as rap music is concerned, Jay Z is arguably one of the top five artists to ever do it. I would not have been able to predict this back when I heard him for the first time — on his mentor Jaz-O’s single “Hawaiian Sophie” — with his moderately mediocre rapid-fire staccato flow and gold tooth, but greatness doesn’t normally begin in one big bang. True greatness takes time to grow, undergoing the proper maturation, trials, and tribulations it needs to be pushed and stretched into its unforeseen destiny. It’s similar to why babies aren’t born as adults.

Nevertheless, Jay Z’s journey has taken him from alleged urban medicine man, gun-toting goon on wax to full-blown multimedia made man. Upon marrying Beyonce, he became virtually untouchable on several levels of existence (kudos, Mr. Carter) and anyone disputing that fact is surely observing life through a filter of jealousy and denial. He has outrightly transcended all but a few of his contemporaries on a business level and quite frankly, is still a better rapper than whoever you’re listening to while you read this.

Jay Z no longer represents the projects; he represents what you can do with your life even if you come from the projects, and for that positive imagery we should be grateful.

Shawn Carter d/b/a Jay Z has shifted the MC-to-mogul paradigm over the last 20 or so years, and in the process positioned himself to garner all the attention that naturally accompanies such accolades. For what it’s worth, today’s rappers are perceived as the new era politicians, modern-day civil rights gladiators, as well as the cultural taste makers and trail blazing innovators that certain societies look upon for direction and guidance, whether they accept such social responsibility or shun it. Most rappers prefer to shun it, but that’s neither here nor there.

Between being friends with both President Barack Obama AND Queen Mother Oprah Winfrey and his many fiscal adventures and investments, Jay Z also has a business relationship with Barneys clothing store. Per Jiggaman himself via lifeandtimes.com: “The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary and the foundation is receiving 25% of all sales from the collaboration, 10% of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys. This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning.”

Barneys is currently under fire for an incident that occurred early this year when an African-American woman named Kayla Phillips was “surrounded by police officers” after she left the store having purchased a $2,500 Celine handbag. Another Barneys-related incident this year involved 19 year-old Trayon Christian, who purchased a $350 Ferragamo belt with his debit card only to later be detained and questioned by the cops regarding the purchase. Racial profiling and civil harassment is nothing new to the minority diaspora covering America’s finicky soil, but these occurrences — and many others like them — have put a spotlight on the unwarranted racism and blatant disrespect that beams and radiates under the USA’s communal surface.

Jay adamantly states that the relationship between Barneys and his foundation is purely for the people, not the profit, yet many in the urban community demand he sever ties with Barneys after the nationwide outrage was sparked last week. In a press release publicized via lifeandtimes.com, Jay says he isn’t going to rush into a judgmental decision to split with the clothing store and is waiting on the “facts” regarding the situation. He then goes on to say that without the facts, he’s unable to make any official statements, and explained ever so eloquently that he doesn’t appreciate being “demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately.” The remainder of his press release points out that the only individuals who would be affected by break-up between Barneys and his foundation would be those underprivileged kids who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to receive an upper echelon education. Sounds fair enough, especially when we eliminate the “should’s” and “could’s” from the equation and analyze the nucleus of facts involved.

Jay is a self-admitted ex-drug dealer who makes his lust for the finer things in life painfully clear on almost every song he records. Even if he does have the exposure and the power to be a voice of the people, he’s not one. And we shouldn’t expect him to be one, either. His only responsibility in this world is to his family and the Illuminati, and at the end of the day, it’s his prerogative who and what he fights for. Contrary to popular belief, rappers are entertainers, no different than magicians or athletes. Some become bigger than the culture itself, but unless it’s naturally the road they travel, it’s unfair to foist any extracurricular objectives upon them and expect them to do our bidding. It’s kind of like President Obama’s first two years in office, when people expected him to do amazing things for Black people because he is part Black. Color had nothing to do with his occupation of choice or his personal agenda, even though it would’ve been nice to get a little help from an inside man, so to speak. We expected certain things from “our” president, never got them, and begrudgingly held him accountable for our disappointments. The key word in all of this being “our.” In the same vein, we shouldn’t hold any rapper — much less an uber-rich, ultra famous one — accountable for what we feel is socially right or wrong, even if it is obviously wrong and demands the necessary attention. Ask yourself a question: would you deviate from your plans for success and personal gains just to appease the common man’s plights for conquest?

On another note, the same folks clamoring about how Jay should handle his personal/business affairs are the same ones who didn’t say anything whatsoever when he took Oprah to his old stomping grounds where he admittedly peddled drugs to people of color. No matter how you spin it, that was glorification on Jay’s behalf as well as Queen Winfrey’s. And if you breakdown the specifics into generalities, there is no socio-political difference between Jay Z selling dope to Black people and him staying in cahoots with a company who clearly doesn’t like Black people, is it?

If we truly want a voice to fight the power along side us — the civilians and pedestrians — then we need to look to more down-to-earth vessels that remember and possibly still experience the struggles of Joe Everybody, not one who has songs based on million dollar daydreams who actually lives the life he brags about. This is in no way a shot in Shawn Carter’s direction as much as it is a recognition of the disconnect between him and the village that was obvious to most of us long before that girl bought a $2,500 handbag. Jay Z no longer represents the projects; he represents what you can do with your life even if you come from the projects, and for that positive imagery we should be grateful.

Let’s not forget that Jay set up the Shawn Carter Foundation to help those young people who can’t help themselves, and whether he’s taking donations from Barneys or a star-studded $500-a-plate celebrity dinner, his original intentions were admirable. Unfortunately for him, though, it’s quickly escalating into a “no good deed goes unpunished” episode of “you can’t win for losing.”

Ultimately, Jay still hasn’t said whether he would cut ties with Barneys, and if he’s smart (which should be without question), he’ll just sit back and wait for the melee to melt over, like most things these days eventually do, no matter how terrible they are. Speaking of which, seeing as though he previously spoke in honor of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death, maybe he should drop a song dedicated to all these tasteless wastes of flesh and bone who are savagely dressing as Trayvon’s corpse for Halloween. Not only would it take the attention away from this fiasco, but it’s definitely a worthy cause, even if Halloween will be over on Friday.

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9 Gangsters Who Hustled Their Way Into The Music Industry

Chaz Williams

Hip-Hop is known for praising for the gangster lifestyle. Many of your favorite rappers jacked their names from gangsters from back in the day. 50 Cent stole his name from a real life street hustler and decided to turn the name on its ear by saying it’s a metaphor for change. While Hip-Hop is busy celebrating the gangster lifestyle, real gangsters are using the music industry to turn their lives around. Our friends at The Smoking Section created a list of nine gangsters who made their presence felt in the music industry. Check out an excerpt:

3. Chaz Williams

Before Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans movie series made bank robbing fashionable, there was Chaz Williams. Williams was a brazen bank robber known for his prison escapes and countless shoot-outs with the law. When one particular robbery went awry, resulting in a security guard catching a gunshot wound to the head, Williams’ string of luck ended and he was sentenced to a total of 95 years. After obtaining degrees in business and knocking his original prison sentence down to 15 years via appeals, Chaz came home looking for a new lease on life through the music game.

Staying close to his Jamaica, Queens roots, Williams had a hand in molding the career of a young 50 Cent, once managed Foxy Brown and his Blackhand Entertainment franchise player Grafh amongst others. A mainstay behind the scenes, Chaz remains militant with his independent approach to the game. And, odds are he’s probably helped your favorite rapper get his jewelry back somewhere along the line.

Peep the rest of the list at The Smoking Section.

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