You’ve touched every part of the entertainment industry and are a master of so many things. How have you been able to consistently succeed across all platforms?
I remember getting into the music business and Dallas Austin’s brother, Claude Austin may he rest in peace, sat me down one day with my big brother Dave Gates and said “You have great ideas, but you have to master one thing first.” That advice really stuck with me over the years. When you think about all the amazing things I’ve done over a 20-year career, I had to master them all individually. It’s made it better for me as I’ve gotten older, because you dream about it all when your young and you come out the gate wanting to do all these different things, but I had to learn the marketing/promo side, the A&R side, the executive side, and all these different facets of the business for me to be able to tell somebody with sincerity what was going on, what to do, or how to curate culture properly.
Let’s talk about Studio 43, explain to us what it is, and what does it means to you?
Studio 43 is a company I started after I lost my first company 2620 Music in a bad business deal. I signed my company away because I was so pressed to get a big check and I had to come up with another company name. My crew and I would always hold up the four-three in pictures because to us it meant forever. I was also obsessed with the Studio 54 movement from the ’80s, so I took studio and replaced  with four-three and the rest is history. Back then we were managing a group by the name of DREAM, which is the second highest debuting girl group ever, over Destiny’s Child and everybody. The only one [that was] bigger I think was Spice Girls at the time. Then we signed Wale, and I’m from D.C. so that meant a lot for my city. I also do all of my hosting and experiential business for Kenny Burns under the Studio 43 umbrella. It’s been an amazing ride!
You refer to yourself as the “LifeStyle Specialist”; what exactly does that mean?
In our world, we have people who are connectors. I took it to the next level and connected people from Fortune 500 companies with my peers. I would make these amazing deals with Trey Songz and Grey Goose at a time when they didn’t do business with young Black pop culture icons. I got AXE body spray put in Ciara’s first video. I created the Legendary Heineken Soul Tour that featured artists like Alicia Keys. We sponsored the Black album release with Jay Z. I signed global artists like Akon, and whatever I’ve ever done has been about connecting the dots and curating pop culture. So, I was in a meeting one day and they kept introducing me as this influencer, this guy that knows everyone, and I said after that meeting, going forward refer to me as The Lifestyle Specialist … and it has stuck.
You have a very demanding career, how do you find the time to make sure that you pour into the lives of your wife and children? Family has always been everything to me. I was raised by all women. My father wasn’t necessarily around like I wanted him to be. Although he gave me presence and credibility in the street, which doesn’t sound good, but it actually came in handy a few times.
But because he wasn’t around, I always felt like I had something to prove. Luckily, I had these amazing women loving me, so I knew how to love and how to treat a women, I was just missing that male force to punch me in the chest when needed.
What advice do you have for rappers and entertainers who are becoming fathers? Don’t be a play daddy and don’t play with being a daddy. A play daddy is someone who does it for the cameras. They do it because they think it’s cool. A father is one of the most important roles in parenting. To the mothers, all praises due with what y’all go through physically and what they go through all their lives. Generally, from like [ages] 8, 9, 10, it really becomes a focal point in the development of a child. They are playing sports and they are more active. They are getting into stuff in school. Girls, friends, hormones, etc.
Just don’t play dad. You have to be active, contribute, listen, spend time and communicate. They need that!