Day two of the 2020 REVOLT Summit x AT&T was nothing short of inspiring, enlightening and entertaining! Creators and future leaders had access to five panel discussions and a musical performance to make you miss campus life even more. Visionaries in mixed-media arts, technology, high fashion and, of course, hip hop shared their hard-earned years wisdom and insight over the five-hour block of virtual discussions. Co-hosts Saweetie and Danileigh directed the experience with an infectious energy and enthusiasm to keep viewers engaged.
Check out the best moments that took place on day two below. See you later tonight (Oct. 25) for day three!
1. BLK Creative Braintrust with Hebru Brantley, Kwasi Fordjour and Gunner Stahl
Panelists Hebru Brantley, Kwasi Fordjour, and Gunner Stahl came together for a conversation about multi-hyphenate Black creatives who are shifting creative culture across media. This discussion was moderated by Knowledge Bennett.
Black is King visionary and Beyonce creative director Fordjour explained how the visuals for the artist’s release were an opportunity to re-write history. “It was important to create a tapestry of Black culture. As a Black man in society, it’s natural for us to be a little bit both reactive and also creating something that we feel is necessary.” With that film, it was important to show our nuances, our beauty, our pain, our triumph. That was the driving force. The culture and the society influenced the work. You can’t be present without being inspired by what’s going on around you both good and bad.
Brantley believes that our young people need exposure to art in order to truly appreciate its value. “I wasn’t brought up in that space,” he reflected. “We had the occasional trip to the art museums or the history museums, but we weren’t taught art in that way.”
Fordjour later added: “That connection that you have with the artist and identifying your eye, your taste, your vision as it comes through them, and you can’t do that if the artist isn’t accessible in certain ways. People want to buy into your brand and you have to allow for that in some way.”
2. Hip Hop As A Platform To Design the Future with T-Pain, Iddris Sandu, Jewel Burks Solomon and The Game
Co-host Danileigh predicted that gamers and techies would want to run out to learn code after listening to the Hip Hop As A Platform To Design the Future panel. The eye-opening discussion was led by passionate thought-leaders and presented an opportunity for creatives to explore available resources through established brands like Google for Startups head Jewel Burks Solomon, but also hear from the perspective of architectural technologist and co-creator of the world’s first smart retail store experience The Marathon Store, Iddris Sandu.
“The thing that’s made my application of technology different is that I took the same skillsets that [the] majority of these large scale companies understand, which is vertical integration, and I wanted to understand how to fuse that with hip hop.” Sandu said. “Hip hop is a startup, but we’ve been on the side of consumerism, as it applies to the creation, instead of the creation from pure innovation.”
T-Pain further explained how technology has allowed “the content creator [to] become the bulk of the entire business.” While discussing the shift from a desire to be signed by a major label to now artists realizing that they don’t need to be, he said, “The tables have turned. The actual creators have gone behind the curtain. We didn’t know that we could go to [program directors] ourself, and that production managers and stuff like that would be more excited if the actual artist talked to them themselves instead of sending a team of managers from a record label.”
Solomon chimed in with incredible resources for budding young creatives to tap into for greater access in the tech space earlier in life like Pharaoh’s Conclave, an Atlanta based company preparing young people for careers in tech and gaming. “I think it’s really critical that we back these companies, that we support these companies as a community, and get behind them…be their customers, invest in them when we can.” She also doubled down with shout outs to companies Healthy Hip Hop, Music Tech Works, Deeper and Raxplay Abstract VR Music Videos.
3. Sky’s The Limit with DaBaby and his manager Arnold Taylor
North Carolina rapper DaBaby and his manager Arnold Taylor offered an hour-long masterclass on making a star. First, the rapper explained how he gained national attention through regular radio station visits and performing at industry events like A3C in Atlanta, SXSW in Austin, and Memorial Day Weekend in Miami. “Every city has a radio station,” he said. “You could come across my article in a secondary blog, come to my Instagram and see that I’m interviewing at four radio stations in a day and I was still just a local artist moving around.”
Next, he shared how he went from college dropout to music artist. Apparently, he never intended to become a rapper. “I went to a real school, so I always had plenty [of] sense,” he said about documenting his process through vlogs prior to releasing any music. This tactic allowed him to grow a built-in fanbase for the bangers he’d later release. He and Taylor believe their humble beginnings have been their advantage to relating to various people. “We grew up similar,” Taylor said. “When you’re that baby of the family you have to be different. I can talk to the dude with the gold teeth in his mouth and I can talk to the dude who has the $5,000 suit on.”
Finally, Taylor also discussed the mental preparation required to be successful in the music business. He said: “We aren’t afraid to be associated with someone political or do a song with a guy who’s associated with weed. I know I ain’t going to run and I know he ain’t going to run, and you can’t say that about a lot of people.”
4. AT&T’s Dream in Black HBCU Homecoming Performance with 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and Lightskinkeisha
As an intermission, viewers took a trip to an HBCU campus for a musical break. From the majorettes and step show to the lineup, AT&T’s Dream in Black HBCU Homecoming Performance featuring 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and Lightskinkeisha was a major highlight of the day.
The segment started with an iPhone announcement from the City Girls. To kick off the actual show, 2 Chainz performed an uplifting rendition of “Money Maker,” an anthem honoring Black excellence and HBCUs. The shot showcased the horn section of a college band playing a Guy “Piece of My Love” sample. The lyrics begin with a shout out to Alabama State, FAMU, and Clark Atlanta University. Dancers, acrobats and even a Black couple getting married were featured in the parade where 2 Chainz rode front and center on a float.
Next, Rick Ross facilitated the soundtrack for the Greeks to party walk on the quad to with “I’m Not A Star.” In probate fashion, the unisex Dream in Black steppers chanted “911 emergency/ Give us back our community/ No more tears to be shed/ No more marches to be led/ No more pity to be wrought/ No more pain to be sought.” We get back to the yard show where Ross resumes with a performance of “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” before we head to class where Lightskinkeisha is leading a lecture.
While performing “Talk That Talk (Rich Bitch), she’s seen twerking on the podium in front of a chalkboard that read, “The World is Yours.” Finally Keisha headed to the football stadium to perform “Believe Dat” with the Dream in Black drumline. In a socially responsible disclaimer on the safety of the performers, the text on screen reminded viewers that’s it’s all, “One Love. One Yard.”
5. The Cost of High Fashion with Dapper Dan and Laquan Smith
Being a Black designer at couture labels is no small feat, but even harder is creating your own brand that can stand its own and be respected in the mainstream. Celebrity stylist Jason Bolden sat down with the trailblazing designers Dapper Dan and Laquan Smith.
The legendary Dan shared the initial mindset that became his signature brand. “Prior to coming into fashion I was a history major, and what I noticed about fashion and culture and the combination of bringing it together, everything was dependent on your interpretation of the culture. So, when I went into fashion, my intention was to translate the culture and the lifestyle aesthetic of the community that I came from.” He added, “I think that’s why I was able to stay relevant for so long because I did not just create from my mind. I kept my finger on the pulse of the culture.”
Smith shared how rejection became his fuel for success: “I was rejected from FIT, I was rejected from Parsons — top schools in New York City that I had dreamed of going to,” said the Queens-born designer. The hardship of not having access to industry insiders, proper education or adequate funding inspired Smith to reconsider his perspective, and led him to championing his own vision by being the brand. “I had a product and I took that product, and I modeled my own product, and I rocked my product,” he said. “So to wear Laquan Smith is truly an experience in my opinion. It’s a conversational piece. It’s original. It’s eye catching. It’s sexy. And it really, to me, represents what New York is all about. The sensibility. The vibrations of New York City nightlife. And so I took that concept and ran with it.”
In effort to remind Black people on a whole that our opinions, our dollars and our influence truly moves the needle, Dan explained the importance of nurturing a brand through service. “I want young people to know, the people of color that I was serving in my community made me an elite,” he said. “When I came into the industry, they had to regard me in that respect from day one. I didn’t come into the industry at the bottom. I came into the industry at the top. It took me 25 years to develop the concept that made them respect what I was doing.”
6. Strength In Numbers with Master P and Steve Stoute
Hip hop mogul Master P and marketing genius Steve Stoute sat down for a one-on-one talk about the importance of economic empowerment, circulating the Black dollar and transitioning from consumers to owners.
Stoute broke out his three keys to lasting success in branding: “The first thing I did to get in the music industry was to educate myself so that nobody could ask me any basic question that I didn’t understand. No. 2 was the pursuit of my dreams. I listened to Illmatic, Nas’ album, like everybody else. The difference is I went to Queensbridge to go meet Nas. The passion to go that far — to be that irrational to pursue something I wanted — was something that was important.
Stoute also credited his ability to always remain a student and continue to learn. After working on the Men in Black soundtrack, his perspective changed. “Once I saw that the [Ray Ban] glasses were selling more than the soundtrack I asked, ‘Why aren’t we in the glasses business?’” So he moved on to advertising and his first ventures were the JAY-Z and 50 Cent sneakers with Reebok in 2003.
Master P echoed this sentiment by sharing his journey into consumer brands. “Get some product. Product don’t talk back,” he said. The mogul explained that people laughed at him at the onset of each new venture, but he didn’t let his detractors stop him from moving ahead. “I got the rap snacks. I got the noodles. Then, I got the rice. Don’t be afraid to be bold and promote your product every opportunity you get. I made them say ‘Hoody Hoo’ and now I got the Hoody Hoo cereal. So you’re going to see Uncle P’s everywhere. I’m taking over the grocery stores,” he added. P also implored young entrepreneurs to continue independent research. “A good soldier prepares for war at a time of peace,” he said, while encouraging young people to dedicate one hour a week to learning. He recommended that viewers Google terms like, “What is economics and banking?” to take their game to another level. “Mistakes is what makes you an expert,” he added. “You have to be bold and you have to just keep going. For me, that’s what ‘No Limit’ is about. That’s how you get your seat at the table. By being bold.”