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REVOLT Summit has finally arrived in Los Angeles! For three days (Oct. 25 - Oct. 27), fans had the opportunity to attend endless panels and exclusive conversations covering everything from music, film, fashion, and most importantly, entrepreneurship.
With Sean “Diddy” Combs paving the way for all aspiring entrepreneurs — and artists, the REVOLT Media and TV chairman’s presence was felt as soon as you walked inside. The Bad Boy Records founder has been inspiring audiences for over 25 years in all facets of his life, with an overall goal of inspiring, educating, celebrating, and elevating the culture.
Taking place at Magic Box in downtown Los Angeles, the sun beamed down over 90 degrees during the first day of the event. Thankfully, attendees were blessed with air conditioning inside, which was the running joke from second-timers who braved the heat when the REVOLT Summit was in Atlanta last month. In the morning, the REVOLT Pitch Competition kicked off with talent Maha Ibrahim, Rachel Springate, Chris Lyons, Anthony Tucker. The day also included a Fireside chat with Diddy and Vince Staples.
Prior to the mogul’s intimate conversation with the rapper, Diddy delivered a heartwarming message: “I felt to really make a change and an impact, into my communities, inviting my communities to come out and to network, learn, understand about this profession. I feel a cure for poverty is entrepreneurialism. Being self-sufficient, working together, and loving each other through community. Right now, that’s through the power of hip hop.”
To give fans a recap of the first day of the REVOLT Summit in L.A., take a look at the five highlights of day one below!
1. The Beatmakers panel
Finally, producers are getting the credit they deserve. The Beatmakers panel was moderated by legendary producer and songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox whose credits include Usher, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and many more, and featured some of today’s hottest producers including Hit-Boy, Murda Beatz, Key Wane, Sounwave, and Terrace Martin. Everything was covered from how they got their starts to the legends they’ve had the opportunity to work with.
TDE’s Sounwave shed light on K.Dot’s work ethic. He stated, “This dude Kendrick does not know how to take a break, he constantly has ideas. Literally after To Pimp a Butterfly, the next day he’s like, ‘I got an idea for the next album.’ It’s like... take a break! His brain is probably one of the most genius brains I’ve ever worked with to the point [where] he makes everyone around him better. Terrace will probably agree, he constantly has ideas.”
Terrace Martin added, “Kendrick pushes you, it doesn’t matter. From major producers to someone he just found — everything. We’re focused on not wanting to repeat what we did yesterday.”
The L.A. producer, singer, multi-instrumentalist comes from humble beginnings. “No one was taking my beats,” Martin continues. “I was trying, showing up with beat CDs, playing for everybody. But, nobody was taking it. End up getting with some guys around town (Problem, Jay Rock). I end up developing my own personal crew. We didn’t have no money, but I knew how important it was to develop a sound. I knew if we stayed and did that, eventually something would happen.”
Another Los Angeles native, Hit-boy, brought us back to when he first started. “That’s a hard question. I emailed stuff, called joints. Lately, I’ve just been getting in with artists. That’s the best way. You get the best vibe, you get excited to put the work in and get a song.”
Murda Beatz agreed: “Through email and working with artists in the studio. Sometimes, it might be going to chill with the artists — just vibing out playing video games. I have artists I just chill with, we never do music. Sometimes, it takes a long time for the process.”
A kid from the crowd then asked Murda for advice, which made the producer ask, “Do you have a flash drive? I want to listen to your beats!” The whole crowd exploded with applause.
2. Power & Politics with Killer Mike
There’s no one more fit to talk hip hop and politics than Killer Mike. The Atlanta rapper and activist has been extremely active in voicing his opinions and thoughts when it comes to the African-American community, as he’s focused on topics such as social inequality, police brutality, and racism. Most recently, he sat with Bernie Sanders (someone he’s advocated for strongly) to chat about healthcare, education, and more progressive issues stemming from Sanders’ 2020 campaign.
For Mike, it’s all about building the community. In regards to this new term “compassionate capitalism,” he even remembers billionaire Michael Roberts telling him, “I want to congratulate for being a black man and figured out capitalism.”
Mike further describes this notion of compassion and capitalism: “A lot of time, people look at corporations. T.I. and I grew up in westside of Atlanta, we sold drugs. I went to college, we thugged out, we made music. At some point, we grew up to be businessmen. Guess where we invest? Right back in the neighborhood. Restaurants, T.I. got whole damn shopping center he made.”
He jokes,” He got white boy money!” which left the crowd in laughter. Regardless, it’s both their abilities to take resources and put it back in the same community they “wasted some years in” that’s making a difference.
Killer Mike was full of endless gems, as he drove into audiences’ ear the fact that black people have only been free from slavery for 55 years.
“We have to get bold! black people, you can’t just march and cry and sing anymore. You have to get boots in the ground. The same money I make, the same money I give to my campaign. I love my wife, I smoke marijuana, we go to strip clubs. Run for office, support the people you know who can do it, beat up your local politicians. Whatever judge sent your cousin to jail, vote them out. But, do not sit back and wait four years for the soap opera. ‘I can’t wait for him to leave’ N*gga, shut up.”
Mike also pointed out that Diddy wants him to run for office, which lead even Puff to stand up and comment through applause.
3. A&R: Shaping A Superstar
The A&R panel showcased some of music’s greatest executives including Steve Carless (Universal Music Group A&R and long-time manager to Nipsey Hussle), Zoe Young (Vice President of A&R at Epic Records), Keefa Black (Atlantic A&R), Tuo of Da Internz (Vice President of A&R at Def Jam), Pusharod (Interscope A&R). It was moderated by Nicole Wyskoarko (EVP, Urban Operations, Interscope Geffen A&M).
As an intro, Letty reminded audiences, “It takes a village. These people took nobodies into somebodies.”
Pusharod remembered the early days coming up with YG and Mustard, simply hanging around in the studio. He stated, “I was a professional homie. They were in the studio and asked my opinion... My good friend Sickamore, who A&R’d YG’s very first album, we were in Atlanta working. I was calling people I knew, getting them in to connect. They’re like, ‘Rod, you know you’re doing A&R work, yeah?’ I was just doing what a good homie would do.” He also gave a shout out to Joie Manda from Interscope who gave him a chance five years ago.
Whenever you see YG, you’ll probably see Push, which is the same relationship Steve had with the late Nipsey Hussle, who he worked alongside for 11 years straight.
Steve remembered first linking with the Victory Lap rapper: “My connection started as me disclosing to him information of checks and balances that a record company dictates as success for an artist. His playback to me was he wanted to maintain creative control, ownership, and to build enterprise... That premise and that thought as an artist, bonded us in such a way. Me as a mentor, him as a teacher, then reversed. It’s important for us to share information, so we can understand the business we’re working in.”
Tuo also puts us on game with his number one rule: it starts with creativity. “If you don’t have product, you don’t have nothing. As a creative, coming in knowing we have to have something first. First rule of thumb. If we don’t have shit, there’s nothing. It starts with product. If you can’t create product, you don’t have nothing else. Remember it starts with ya’ll, ya’ll keep the light on.”
Rod adds, “If you’re not willing to risk it all, you don’t have the right artist.”
4. Vince Staples Fireside Chat with Diddy
When it came time to bring Vince to the stage, Diddy had nothing but words of praise, even calling him a “living legend.” The mogul added, “It’s always been a wish of mine to introduce this young man. His freedom, the way he’s always outspoken, his talent was something that really, really inspired me.”
The goal here was to get inside Vince’s brain and get inspired. After playing an episode of the “Vince Staples show” in full (it was four minutes long), the two sat down for an intimate conversation about his come up, his creativity, the new wave of social media, and how gang culture affected his life.
Off the rip, Vince introduced himself as a Long Beach native, who started making music at age 16 or 17 to get away from the things the rest of his neighborhood were doing. When Puff asked his take on the state of hip hop, the rapper shouted out a slew of up-and-comers from Rucci to Almighty Suspect.
“It depends how you look at it,” he stated. “With the internet and social media, it’s so easy to look at so many things. I do my best to do everything rooted in where I come from. By us having these outlets to showcase that — if you look where it starts at, it’s always going to be a good place. For someone in the neighborhood trying to make music to touch their people, that’s the point.”
Speaking on gang culture, Vince kept it mad real. “A big misconception is that it’s a separate thing. The reality [is] we live out here. It’s not something you gon’ find, that’s outside your door. A lot of times, we don’t think these people are people. Most of my homies never committed a crime. When someone looks at someone from somewhere, they already have an idea who they supposed to be.”
5. State Of The Culture Live!
REVOLT’s own “State of the Culture Live” was one of the most highly anticipated panels of the day. Joe Budden graced the stage in a fedora and leopard/plaid robe with co-host Remy May decked out in beautiful black and silver thigh-high cut out boots. Other co-host Eboni K. Williams joined them with the legendary Too Short and TDE’s very own Reason.
The conversation centered around the authenticity and love for rhyming, emceeing, and dancing — to the more gimmicky coerced arts. In a world where hip hop has grown to be the top genre, Joe asked Reason how he plans to stand out in Generation X.
Reason (whom Joe calls one of his favoring up and coming MCs) answered, “It’s hard. As an artist who still follows five traditional elements of hip hop, and think about your life and what’s going on, it’s not as easy. I spend months making my project and now I gotta spend months figuring out how to get people to give a shit. They don’t care, they don’t care about your story. They just care about how you present yourself.”
What’s Too Short’s secret? Relationships. “I learned that early on, I try to keep it personal,” he stated. “People walk up to me acting like they know me for years, So I act like I know them for years. It’s politickin’, it’s shaking hands. People literally say, ‘Hold the baby and take a picture,’ and I’ll hold the baby. It’s more than music with longevity. It’s the little guys in the back. They’re just interns, but they’re going to be executives one day. If you treat them like shit, they’ll treat you like shit, too. I see it like that, it’s more than just a job — it’s longevity.”
After Joe jokingly calls Reason out for not actually listening to mumble rap, New York’s own Remy Ma adds her two cents.
“It’s just about your story. Instagram is here now, but I remember when Myspace was just here. Twitter. These things are facades that come in and out. If they say, “Fuck IG, it doesn’t exist anymore,” 95% who think they’re poppin’ won’t exist. Their sole existence depends on one thing. You have to be poppin’ in your hood first, people in your immediate area have to know you. You still have to go out with artist development, marketing, getting a publicist, management, then convince the masses.
Remy drives the point home, “There’s nothing worse than being famous and popular… and broke!”