Hip-hop started as this niche moment, and the values of it, the cultures that it carried on its back; language, clothes, the way you wear your clothes, the items that you consume, all came with the music as an art form. And those things helped transform how people buy, shop, speak, engage.
I felt like I could take the responsibility and make the Nas movement bigger and not keep it confined to the Tri-State area, so to speak. He allowed me to do that. When we were together, we made a lot of noise, and I made him an international star.
I realized how far-reaching the effect of hip hop was when I walked by a jewelry store named Bling in a small, rural town in France. Hip hop has made a huge impact on urban culture. Yet many brands still don’t speak to young people in a tone and manner that’s representative of them.
I tell young entrepreneurs to use the leader in their industry and as a benchmark as they work to create their own brand. Don’t look at what your competition is doing – if you emulate the leader in your industry, you will achieve a higher level of engagement with consumers and make their buying experience richer.
I used to run record companies, and I went to the advertising business at 29 years old.
Nas has always been uncomfortable with being famous and accessible. Nas makes music because he loves music, not because he wants the trappings of music, such as fame.
The ad business has some of the great artists, but because there are so many, its hard to determine the true gems.
The diversity of America is a strength of the country, and I don’t think that we use that. We don’t talk about our strengths. I mean, having so many diverse people in this country from all aspects of all over the world, and we don’t use that. I think we should talk about who we are – that melting pot that we’ve become.
There’s much more money being brought into the advertising and communications business than in the music industry.
What’s successful is when you are good at what you aim to do. And I don’t think that Nas has aimed to do anything that he hasn’t done. So he is a good businessman.
When you grow up in life and you’re poor, and because you’re an athlete or you got rich overnight in music, unless you have access to financial advice or for the transition or matriculation of that process, then of course, you’re going to go broke.