On Saturday’s (Dec. 17) episode of “Drink Champs,” DJ EFN and N.O.R.E. welcomed Earn Your Leisure duo Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings. 19 KEYS was also in the building as they discussed Deion Sanders, LeBron James calling out Jerry Jones, cryptocurrency, and more.
Earn Your Leisure, the groundbreaking media platform founded by Bilal and Millings, offers a voice to content creators from the business, finance, and entrepreneurial worlds whose viewpoint, knowledge, and in-depth understanding have been previously neglected and disregarded. It provides analyses of business concepts and current financial trends, as well as profiles of successful entrepreneurs in the entertainment and sports sectors. Taking a page out of the realm of pop culture, EYL combines the best of both worlds, offering an interesting perspective that’s equally digestible to the average viewer and successful businessman. Thus far, the platform has welcomed special guests such as Steve Harvey, Deion Sanders, Rick Ross, Dame Dash, and Shaquille O’Neal, among others.
19 KEYS spent his formative years in the West Oakland neighborhood of St. Louis. As an activist for years and a frequent spokesperson at Oakland rallies, where his oratory talents have earned him a reputation as a keynote speaker and a leading thinker of his age. Through his platform and the subsidiary of Earn Your Leisure, 19 KEYS launched “High Level Conversations,” where he interviews celebrities and public figures like Mike Rishad, Billy Carson, Tariq Nasheed, and Wallstreet Trapper, to name a few.
Check out nine interesting facts we gathered from Earn Your Leisure and 19 KEYS’ installment of “Drink Champs.” For more, watch the full episode here.
1. On Ron Artest passing on Vitaminwater equity before it was bought by Coca-Cola
After drinking Vitaminwater during a 2004 Reebok commercial, 50 Cent expressed interest in investing in the company. Although met with some pushback, the two parties settled on a contract in which the New York rapper would get a 10 percent investment in his Formula 50 brand. As reported by Forbes, 50 Cent made a cool $100 million from Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Vitamin Water. EYL emphasized how important it was to take equity, sharing that the company originally offered Ron Artest a brand deal, but he wanted cash instead.
“They went to a few people at first, one of them being Ron Artest. They offered Ron Artest the same deal they offered 50 Cent. Ron Artest wanted a couple hundred thousand dollars in cash. They didn’t have that,” they shared. “50 Cent came, took the same deal, but took equity. Fast forward 18 months later… $100 million dollars.”
2. On how to increase the number of Black-owned businesses
The SBA estimates that small companies account for 44 percent of all economic activity and have provided employment for 1 in 7 Americans since 2019. Although more people than ever are starting their own businesses, minorities still face significant challenges when doing so. In response, Bilal and 19 KEYS talked about the importance of the circulation of the Black dollar going to other Black-owned businesses.
“How you view yourself is extremely important. If you don’t view yourself as worthy, then you’re not going to do business with each other. If you’re looking at somebody as a n***a, then you’re going to treat them like a n***a,” Bilal explained. “It’s not charity — we have to get out of that as well. If I’m supporting a business, it’s because I genuinely want to support the business. Because I didn’t have to tell you that you have to support Mercedes. It’s not like, ‘You know, I bought that Gucci, now you owe me.’ We only do that with each other.”
3. On hip hop’s influence over Black culture
Since its inception in the early 1980s, hip hop has been an integral part of Black culture in America. Since beginning roughly 50 years ago, hip hop has flourished because of the contributions of veteran and contemporary emcees. Regarding the music genre, 19 KEYS talked about how it can be used as a tool of knowledge over ignorance and flashiness.
“Spiritually, the essence of hip hop is the most influential on the planet Earth. Financially, we don’t own nor control none of that s**t. So, if we can keep you uneducated, we can control you,” 19 KEYS stated. “If it was based on knowledge, then people would want to learn. If it was based on ignorance, then people are satisfied with not knowing and they get a look. So people want to look successful, but they never actually learn the business of success.”
4. On Deion Sanders moving from Jackson State to the University of Colorado
Earlier this month, when Deion Sanders was named the next head coach at the University of Colorado, the internet went into a frenzy. It seemed like Sanders was developing not only an HBCU juggernaut but a college football behemoth after guiding Jackson State to a 26-5 record and repeated SWAC victories over the last three seasons. Bilal expressed his opinion on naysayers, pointing out all the good things Sanders has done thus far.
“99 percent of people that criticize have never done anything productive. So, instead of criticizing, he’s actually done something for HBCUs. You could’ve said he could’ve done more, but he did a lot. What have you done?” Bilal asked. “Instead of looking at this as an opportunity to criticize somebody, why don’t you look at it as an opportunity to actually do something.”
5. On Rolexes increasing in value despite the impending recession
Millions of Americans are now experiencing a cost of living crisis due to the residual consequences of COVID-19, domestic inflation, and damaged supply chains. Even while the demand for used luxury timepieces has decreased overall, Rolex watches, in particular, continue to be highly sought after. Midway through the interview, 19 KEYS dropped some gems on watches continuing to rise in value.
“The watch market is doing great right now. If you look right now, they haven’t announced it yet, but we’re in a recession. Some things are going through some of the highest points of inflation in the nation: Plane tickets, food prices, health care, a multitude of different things are very high,” he noted. “Rolexes specifically have been a nice, special case. Even though all of this up and down with inflation and recession news, stocks being down, and crypto being down, the Rolexes have held their value and increased in value.
6. On LeBron James calling out the media for not asking him about Jerry Jones’ past
NBA player LeBron James sparked a commotion when he questioned why the media hadn’t asked him about the 1957 Jerry Jones picture that showed the then-teenager standing with students who were fighting to keep their Arkansas school segregated. Earn Your Leisure spoke about LeBron’s comments regarding Jones, stating that he was pressured to after social media condemned him for not speaking up for Kyrie Irving.
“Even from a media standpoint, nobody has pressed [Jerry Jones] about that picture. Even after Lebron said that,” pointed out Millings. He added, “It felt like when the Kyrie situation happened, we didn’t hear from LeBron in a way we thought we [were going to]. And then it was like, we needed that.”
7. On Tyler Perry being critiqued for wearing a dress while playing Madea
When Tyler Perry first started performing in plays in Atlanta in the early 1990s, he was already well on his way to becoming an established actor and writer. However, it wasn’t until he created and starred as Madea that he truly rose to fame. Even though the fictional character is beloved by fans, Perry has been criticized for promoting Black men wearing dresses. “The means justify the ends,” stated Bilal in response.
“We actually got to speak with him and go to his studio. There are five Hollywood studios I think — Sony, Paramount… You could fit all of those studios on his campus in Atlanta. That’s how big it is,” he shared. “He employs over $100 million per year and 95 percent of the people are Black people. So, sometimes the means justify the ends. We can criticize the situation, but what he’s been able to accomplish… Nobody in 100 years has built a studio.”
8. On Sam Bankman-Fried allegedly stealing client funds and FTX going bankrupt
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the leading cryptocurrency exchange FTX, became a public figure in the crypto industry in 2020. Following the apparent disappearance of over a billion dollars in customer funds, he was apprehended in the Bahamas and charged with wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, among other conspiracies.
“Pretty much, he was using money from investors to fund other projects. A report was published that was unfavorable to FTX, so Binance had a lot of their coins. Binance pulled their money out. Once Binance pulled their money out, it made all the investors scared,” shared Bilal. Millings chimed in, “You got a guy who goes from $29 billion net worth to $900 thousand in 48 hours.”
9. On Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam’s impact on the world
As the leader of the Nation of Islam, Black separatist Elijah Muhammad was a prominent figure in 20th-century African American history. During his 41 years at the helm of the NOI, he built the organization into a powerful religious movement, inspiring many to join. On the topic of Muhammad, 19 KEYS discussed the impact he had on public figures in the Civil Rights Movement and more, including Dr. Sebi, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party.
“The honorable Elijah Muhammad doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the impact that he had on the entire globe. If you remove the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from history, how many things do you remove from history? The whole entire world has to change. Hip hop is not hip hop. Dr. Sebi is not Dr. Sebi. There’s no Black Panthers. There’s no Malcolm X. No Public Enemy,” 19 KEYS claimed.