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The path to success is not a straight line. During REVOLT Summit’s “The Pioneers” panel, which went down in Atlanta, Georgia; music powerhouses Dallas Austin, Rico Wade, Jermaine Dupri and Shanti Das joined the stage to share how one can achieve their career goals in the tough music industry. Hosted by Tricky Stewart, the hour-long panel encouraged growth, positivity and networking.
To get the party started, Das stated that she didn’t wait for a handout. While attending school, she sacrificed sleep in order to work on her career. Although working hard did play a major part, the music exec also credited her success on the memorable connections she made along the way. “My first internship was in 1991 at Capitol Records,” she began. “Before that, I met JD when I was a junior or senior in high school.” She continued, “I used to network my butt off. I was working and getting a check during my sophomore and junior year in college. By the time I graduated, I already had connections in the game. I think the same thing holds true today. You just have to make connections.”
As the conversation unfolded, Stewart intervened with important questions directed toward the panelists. “Why are y’all so bold? Why are y’all so fearless?” Stewart inquired. “What gave y’all the audacity to think that you could do what we’re sitting up here talking to you about?”
Taking a stab at the question first, the So So Def creator felt the need to prove the naysayers wrong. Reflecting on the past, Dupri recalled his early days with record executive L.A. Reid. “When you have every box against you checked off, you have to try to change that,” JD began. “We had everything against us out here, when I did my first mix, I think L.A. told me, ‘N---as in Atlanta didn’t know how to mix.’” He continued, “The remix took me two weeks. Every time I turned it in, L.A. kept rejecting it. I was like, ‘Man, you still don’t like it?’ He was like, ‘Nah, who mixed this record?’”
JD’s account reminded the audience that there will be hard times along the journey, however, the response is critical. The now 47-year-old producer used that experience as ammo to prepare him for life’s battles. “When you’re dealing with that type of difficulty and people just automatically knocking you down, you become stronger in all kinds of ways,” he reasoned.
Although the panel dropped many gems, Das — who served as the only female voice — spoke about the importance of patience. Understandably, each person on the panel did not see results overnight. Das reiterated that seeking instant gratification is not the way to go. After years of working relentlessly, she’s able to live the life she wants to unapologetically.
“Everybody wants the prize now and it’s not about that,” she said. “You still gotta work hard that’s why I give so much respect to Puff because ‘can’t stop won’t stop’ is not just a thing. You have to work and you have to take care of yourself. You have to hustle, work hard and you have to be OK with where you’re at. It took me years to be where I wanted to be. I didn’t get the bag right out the gate after a year or two.”
Toward the end of the discussion, Diddy thanked the panel for their honesty, hard work and transparency. He even stated that the past comes full circle and there’s no greater evidence of that than through the stories of the diligent creators in Atlanta.
“Sometimes because things are moving so fast with the age of social media, sometimes you may not understand when you are in the presence of greatness because you may be so busy just trying to get to it. But, you can’t know where you are going unless you know where you came from,” the mogul stated.