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REVOLT Summit in Los Angeles proved that when black excellence and hip hop are combined, the culture is unstoppable

The REVOLT Summit in Los Angeles was a weekend full of opportunities for artists, entrepreneurs, and executives to learn from each other and encourage one another to “Dream in Black.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The REVOLT Summit in Los Angeles was a weekend full of opportunities for artists, entrepreneurs, and executives to learn from each other and encourage one another to “Dream in Black.” A partnership between Sean “Diddy” Combs, REVOLT TV and AT&T, the event was a combination of panels, performances, and cultural moments curated for hip hop entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Some of the main themes explored at the REVOLT Summit included women taking leadership roles in business and entertainment, creating and sustaining intergenerational wealth, how changes in technology can lead to money-making opportunities, the business of cannabis, and numerous other topics that shared an independent spirit that reflected hip hop culture. The three-day event was held at The Magic Box at The Reef in DTLA and welcomed talent from across the entire spectrum of the industry including artists, producers, songwriters, executives, stylists, and more.

Day one of the REVOLT Summit in L.A. featured panels that addressed topics ranging from politics to the future of the entertainment industry. Killer Mike sat down with Van Lathan to discuss the dynamics of power and politics in society. On a related note, Van Jones moderated a panel entitled REVOLT 2 Vote featuring Angela Rye, Tamika Mallory, Jeff Johnson, and Aoki Lee Simmons. The conversation addressed the most important issues facing black voters going into the 2020 elections including voter suppression, police and gun violence, reproductive justice, and the role entertainers can play in politics.

Johnson made a comment on that last point when responding to a question from the audience. ”Historically, artists have gotten behind organizations that had momentum... because artists are like everybody else, waiting to see how they can plug into leadership they trust,” he said.

In addition to politics, the first day featured panels discussing the future of the music industry on all fronts. This included a producers panel featuring Murda Beatz, Hit-Boy, Bryan-Michael Cox, Sounwave, and Terrace Martin; where each beat-maker broke down how they got into the game, and shared some highlights and real-life experiences those in attendance could learn from or be inspired by. On the industry side, the A&R: Shaping a Superstar session included a panel consisting of Keefa Black, Nicole Wyskoarko, Roderick “Pusharod” Bullock, Steve Carless, Tuo Clark, and Zoe Young. The panel elaborated on how being an A&R is much more than listening to music and also includes balancing relationships, balancing artists on a roster, and helping talent set business goals using strategic planning.

The first day culminated in a fireside chat between Diddy and west coast rapper Vince Staples. They screened the first episode of the “Vince Staples Show” and discussed the future of hip hop. Vince shared his opinion on one of the things he sees holding the culture back when he said, “When we dream, we don’t dream with purpose.” In order to find one’s purpose, both recommended that reflecting on overcoming hard times was a crucial part of the process. Later that evening, Diddy’s son King Combs performed a short set that was followed by the Be Heard Finale. Throughout the day, singers and rappers competed for one of the final slots in the finale, where the winner was up for a $5,000 check. St. Louis rapper A-Game secured the bag with his performance in front of a panel that included the industry veteran Andre Harrell and was hosted by Ray J.

The other panels held on day one included Monetizing the Turnup, a conversation between event marketers Kameron McCullough, Brandon McEachern and host Kristen Fraser; as well as a live edition of REVOLT’s “State of the Culture” where hosts Joe Budden, Remy Ma, and Eboni K. Willams chatted with veteran rapper Too Short and TDE newcomer Reason. They clashed — and sometimes agreed — on the state of the generation gap in hip hop and Budden urged to creatives who don’t fit into traditional industry roles, “Don’t be afraid to make a position.” Remy discussed the peaks and valleys of her career, and implied that a rollercoaster career with longevity is far greater than peaking early and fizzling out. In her words, “There is nothing worse than being famous and broke.” Everyone agreed that the state of today’s rap scene has far more opportunities to cash out, even if the quality of the music remains subjective and arguably inferior to previous generations.

Day two got off to a proper start with the Follow Her Lead panel hosted by Moj Mahdara, the CEO of Beatycon; and included Canadian youtube creator and late night host Lilly Singh, ESPN anchor Cari Champion, and actress Storm Reid of A Wrinkle in Time and “Euphoria” fame. Storm commented on the importance of seeing a black girl save the world and Cari reflected on her L.A. roots, and how getting fired can build character and help reset priorities for women looking for direction in their career trajectory. Singh expressed how her career was a slow burn that didn’t happen overnight and noted that being the first bisexual Canadian woman of color to enter the current late-night scene is surprisingly newsworthy.

Those fortunate few with VIP credentials were treated to a candid sit down with Ghazi Shami and his Empire staff where they discussed the future of independent music marketing. Veteran A&R Tina Davis, and executives Moody Jones and Nima Etminan shared jewels on how they’ve helped launch projects ranging from Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80 to helping to revive Tyga’s career. The Bay Area start-up is off the beaten path of the traditional media capitals of New York City and Los Angeles, but it makes sense since the company strives to be just as much a tech company as it does a record label.

Snoop Dogg sat down with cannabis entrepreneurs Al Harrington, David Elias, Jason White, Karim Webb, and Ted Chung to discuss the economic opportunities of the green wave of legal and medical marijuana. With global attitudes shifting in favor of recreational use and an upcoming election that could lead to positive legislation if a Democratic candidate wins, the opportunities in the cannabis business are booming. The main event of REVOLT Summit in L.A. on Saturday (Oct. 26) was The Making of TDE, hosted by Snoop, as well. Terrence “Punch” Henderson, Jay Rock, SZA, and Moosa and Brandon “Big B” Tiffith ruminated on how Top created the label, comparisons to Death Row, and Rock setting the tone for how the label remains humble yet with an incredibly high bar when it comes to talent. Top’s sons Moosa and Brandon talked about how the family business has paved the way for generational wealth, a concept that was shown the night before with Diddy and King, and again during a conversation between Master P and his son, Romeo Miller.

Other panels on day two included sessions on managing talent; which featured G-Eazy’s manager Jamil Davis, Khalid’s manager Courtney Stewart, Post Malone’s manager Dre London, and Lucky Daye’s manager Paris Cole with host Lenny S asking questions. Van Lathan hosted a panel of social media influencers including Jake Paul, Spectacular Smit, Althea Lim, and Angelica Nwandu; and Glam Squad Essentials addressed the importance of styling artists, featuring Groov Lew among other renowned stylists. The final panel of the day was for songwriters and was hosted by Catherine Brewton, VP of Creative at BMI. She chatted with Stacy Barthe, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and newcomers Nija Charles and Gizzle. They discussed how songwriting has changed with the advent of social media and how it was an unconventional path for some who originally wanted to be artists or producers.

The night ended with a VIP session of “Drink Champs” with DJB-Hen, DJ EFN, and N.O.R.E., alongside special guest Bizzy Bone. This led up to the REVOLT Block Party, which featured performances by Arin Ray, Bre-Z, Eric Bellinger, Jae Murphy, O.T. Genasis, Shaq, WolfTyla; and TDE’s Reason and SiR.

The final day kicked off with a VIP brunch followed by a candid sit-down with Issa Rae and director Melina Matsoukas for “A Sip with Issa Rae” live. They chatted about Melina’s forthcoming feature debut film, Queen & Slim, working together on “Insecure,” and why Ciroc Black Raspberry was better than White Grape (hint: racism). Issa had to take a quick bathroom break, so Diddy filled in just before the Q&A. An artist in the audience named HoneyBluClue blew them away when she decided to shoot her shot at getting signed on Issa’s new Raedio record label.

The rest of the day included panels on coding, photography, and several networking mixers. Ty Dolla $ign and Mustard sat down with Big Boy to chop it up about West Coast music, Ice Cube and Rich Paul talked sports with Stephen A. Smith, Courtney Stewart and Tunji Fant elaborated on how their label came into being with Columbia exec Phylicia Fant; and Fat Joe, Snow Tha Product, Spiff TV, and N.O.R.E. talked Latin-influence in hip hop with Abby De La Rosa.

The Global Influence of Hip Hop was the final panel of REVOLT Summit in L.A. Ebro Darden hosted it and the convo included London’s Stefflon Don, Ghanian-American Bozoma Saint John, CMO at Endeavor; YouTube’s Tuma Basa via Rwanda, Iowa, and Zimbabwe; and Okay Africa’s Abiola Oke, who is Nigerian. The undeniable influence of African rhythms on all genres of music and the powerful impact Afrobeat has made on popular culture were the main talking points. The panel encouraged black people to visit Africa and consider investing in the emerging business opportunities on the continent.

The night ended with a finale concert that included L.A.’s own Roddy Ricch, The Bay’s Kamaiyah and Saweetie, Rubi Rose, Stefflon Don, and the night’s closer, Ty Dolla $ign. The crowd was treated to hits including “Ballin’,” “My Type,” and “Hot Girl Summer” among many others.

Throughout the entire event, REVOLT and AT&T collaborated on a job fair that was designed to help attendees, who were looking for a foot in the door, with a chance to have their resumes looked at and possibly interviewed for jobs. The venue was decorated with amazing photography of some of hip hop’s biggest stars.

One of the most mentioned people throughout the weekend was Nipsey Hussle, and the impact he made on the culture could be felt. Overall, REVOLT Summit in Los Angeles proved that black excellence and hip hop in action can bring people together, and provide opportunities for creatives and entrepreneurs, alike.

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