Posts Tagged ‘Hip Hop’

Glen Bolton aka Daddy-O, founder of Stetsasonic

I know you all are saying “hey I thought this blog was about being a directory of photography and stuff about the film industry and junk”…well it is, but every once in a while I want to share some things that I’ve been learning about BUSINESS itself and share things that has inspired me and hope it will do the same for you.  So if this doesn’t excite you in any way then you don’t have to read it. But I dare you to anyway! 🙂

I was having a hard time with this title, because the person I’m speaking about is much more than a rapper! He was an innovator of styles. Glen K. Bolton aka Daddy-O started Stetsasonic back in the 80s and had a slew of hits and was instrumental in the shaping of hip hop music since then. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting him personally at Studioplex Atlanta on Auburn St and he was so down to earth and cool.  Most at that level seem to be unapproachable.  We had some small talk about some equipment we had in common by Open Labs and then he got back to work and I was wowed by the ingenuity of his team.  Lots going on, made me step my game up, if you know what I mean.  I ended up seeing him several more times since our initial meeting and the things he’s into continue to amaze me.  I like that he is not the normal type of guy waiting for things to happen, he goes out and makes things happen.  He epitomizes the slogan “Movers and Shakers” He along with another mentor of mine Francis Palacios of East New York Entertainment of whom I’ll be blogging about shortly!

Now he adds “entrepreneur”  and “business consultant” to his already long list of accomplishments. This vet has a thing or two or five, to say about Business…check it out, please take note and tell ’em Daddy-O said so!

1. Put your creative people on the front lines

“If you do not keep your business people in the back room, patching people up, they’re going to muck it up,” says Daddy-O. “You let them talk, you’re done.”

Daddy-O is a big fan of putting the creative brains of an operation in the spotlight and keeping business people in the background for support.

In the hip-hop world, the creative people are the rappers; the business people include the record labels, the managers and anyone else helping distribute and manage the rappers’ music. Daddy-O explained that many successful rappers started off as independent artists—Master P, Cash Money, P. Diddy, to name a few. “The big checks come, they run to the big checks,” says Daddy-O. “And then ultimately, you see some of them fall off.” When business comes before art, the art suffers.

Startups and small businesses face this same problem if the business side of the operation comes before the product. Startups should focus on developing sound products, just as rappers should focusing on creating the best music that they can. Once the product, whether it be an app or a new LP, is at the top of its game, it shows—and the business will roll in from there.

Daddy-O compared business and art to a war zone: You have your foot soldiers (artists and creatives) out on the front lines, getting things done, and you have M*A*S*H (the business heads) back at the base, making sure everything runs smoothly.

2. Don’t let odds get in the way

“Passion is the kid in his mama’s house with one Marshall amp and a guitar, and his mother saying that he’s a bum, and he’s still doing it. Passion is those kids in a garage with a piece of software,” says Daddy-O. “If you’re going to be passionate about anything, you better not let odds get in the way. Because you can just strip the word passion out of there.”

Daddy-O explains that nothing should stop your passion, whether you’re a would-be rock star or a hopeful startup entrepreneur. For founding hip-hop artists, such as Daddy-O, who started rapping in 1979, there were a lot of critics of the genre who were calling it a fad or listening in disgust as DJs rubbed records the wrong way. “You think we listened?” Daddy-O asked. “It only made us scratch more. It only made us rap more, because we didn’t really care.”

Everybody’s odds are different, and you may think that attaining your business goal is impossible. If you put your passion behind it, though, you’ll always win. Whether you reach that final goal or just get pretty dang far along the way, you’ll learn something that makes it all worthwhile.

“You’re not going to be sure about most things you do in life. As songwriters facing a high degree of uncertainty, we embrace it. It actually energizes us. It’s the same butterflies that Michael Jackson got every time before he hit the stage. That degree of uncertainty is healthy if you look at it the right way; embrace it, because that’s what makes winning exciting.”

3. Never stop practicing

“Businesses fail because in the beginning you’re always practicing, always using your gift—whether that’s writing code or a new rhyme. But after your program gets picked up or after the record company signs you, you stop.”

“That’s it in a nutshell,” says Daddy-O, and he points to inspiration as the driver to keep practicing. Whether you were inspired by someone else’s work or you feel that your talent is a God-given gift, your only option is to stay inspired. Here’s a fun anecdote Daddy-O told:

“You’re in the beginning of a startup—you subscribe to Fast Company, Wired, Inc.; you’re following everything Guy Kawasaki says online; you bought all of Brian Solis’ books; you’re talking back and forth with Chris Brogan all the time, cause he’ll answer anyone; and you feel like you’re getting it. That’s until someone cuts you a check, and all of a sudden you’re out the window. All of a sudden your inspiration becomes your competition, and you’re no longer tweeting. What happened to that blog you were doing every week? What happened? Oh, you’ve got a check now. You don’t wanna fail? You don’t have an option. Stay inspired.”

4. Use what you’ve got

“The golden egg isn’t winning—it’s usage. Usage is enough. That’s all you have to do; use what you’ve got,” says Daddy-O. “That’s what Jay-Z does. He never stopped rhyming. That’s what Sean P. does. He never stopped rhyming. Every engineer I know, every developer I know, every designer I know, that’s all they do; they just use what they’ve got.

“You will continue to be inspired if you keep on doing it. There’s no way to be a break dancer and keep dancing, and not be inspired—because you will evolve if you keep doing it. You aren’t going to keep doing the same four moves every time. You’re going to get tired of the same four moves. If you’re writing code, you’re not going to keep writing the same four lines of code over and over; you’re going to get better.”

In the beginning, rap was about keeping it new. Rappers were required to have a new rhyme every time they took the stage. Making rap albums was considered “whack,” explains Daddy-O, because it meant you were recording your routine, nothing was new. As a result, rappers were constantly writing new rhymes. To get better, you’ve got to use your mojo, says Daddy-O.

This lesson has stuck with Daddy-O over the years. His business motto is, “Your evolution is inevitable if you keep doing it.”

Using what you’ve got is just as true for equipment as it is for mojo. “You ask any guitarist, and they don’t want a crappy guitar,” says Daddy-O. “But I guarantee you, Flea plays just as well on a sucky bass as a good bass, because he learned to play on a sucky bass. Use what you’ve got, and it will get you to the next level.” Don’t be jealous of the shiny, new goods that other artists or entrepreneurs are working with; make the best of what you have. Whether that’s talent or equipment, use it until you’ve exhausted it, advises Daddy-O.

5. Find where you belong

When you listen to a hip-hop artist, it’s inevitable that he will give a shout-out to his hood—be it Brooklyn, Atlanta or the Bay. A rapper’s home turf is a part of his music.

Marketers would call this concept “knowing your market,” says Daddy-O, but rappers look at it as knowing where they belong in the music world.

For businesses, it is important to understand what cluster of people your product or service is targeting and then communicate and act accordingly.

He throws in a bonus…

 Do not handle legal work alone

Along your journey to being a successful businessperson—or rapper—you’ll get the opportunity to do a lot of the work yourself, learning about different aspects of your industry and business. The only thing you should never categorize as a DIY project, says Daddy-O, is legal work. If you’re negotiating a contract, always seek legal advice. But other than that, he says, get your hands dirty.

As a young man growing up in this business it was hard to find role models to fashion myself after because I couldn’t find any one that had my thoughts, for the most part a lot of them were excited only by the outward shows of wealth, such as fancy cars, jewelry and yes folks it JEWELRY not JEWLERY I don’t know where that came from but ok….let me continue, I was more interested in longevity, residual income and still enjoying what you love to do.  Well for me, after all that has just been said, I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel or even try to come up with some hair brained scheme to make money quick.  I’m gonna hunker down and go for it!

Thanks for an inspiring lesson Daddy-O may we all take it to heart!

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I was honored to again to be a part of a really awesome project by a close friend and partner Reggie Maddox of RoughMecca and directed by Dave Evans. This is a return to basics and I think you all will enjoy it!