Anyone who grew up on hip-hop culture, which now transcends America and has mass appeal globally, celebrated #BlackExcellence when they saw this picture above of Jay-Z and P. Diddy, and listened to Jay-Z’s latest album, 4:44. Both artists have transcended music to go from managing artists to owning businesses and lucrative partnerships from the Barclays Centre to Ciroc and Revolt TV.
However, I want to highlight three individuals who operate at an intersection of their skillset and The Culture. William Wesley, Charles King and Steve Stoute.
Rappers always pay homage to people who move the culture forward in the their lyrics.
I learned the game from William Wesley
You can never check me.
— Drake, "Back to Back"
Touted by GQ as “the most powerful man in sports,” William is rarely interviewed or seen in pictures and videos. ‘Worldwide Wes,’ as some call him, is known as one of the most discrete, but influential men on and off the basketball court.
Wes is a consultant for the Creative Artists Agency and works closely with emerging and established basketball players, their agents and their coaches. Little is known about this power brokers' clients over the 15+ years he has been in the game, but we know he operates at the intersection of Deal Negotiation x Culture.
Charles patiently rose in his career as an agent and partner at William Morris Endeavor (WME) before founding Macros Ventures. He was an entertainment lawyer, who was first inspired to break into the industry because he saw a relevant role model on the TV show L.A. Law, as Blair Underwood played the role of a successful lawyer. The charismatic African American character is an example of how important it is to have role models who young people can relate to and aspire towards.
He built strong relationships across the law sector and entertainment industry, whilst he noticed that youth culture was shaped by urban culture, which was fast becoming popular culture. He could see what others couldn’t because he was from a different background. He went on to represent artists such as Missy Elliot and film director Tyler Perry. He went on to invest in producing films such as Barbershop and more recently Oscar award winning films like Fences. Demonstrating with a strict budget how much you can elevate the culture and impact communities, Charles operates at the intersection of Entertainment Law x Culture.
I was just trying to make it with Steve Stoute
The legal way, drug-free route.
— Nas, "A Queens Story"
Author of the must-read book, Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, Steve operates at the intersection of Marketing x Culture and has built up a reputable brand and marketing agency called Translation.
I first came across Steve Stoute through Nas, as Steve worked with the Venture Capitalist and award-winning artist during his early years in his music career. Steve now works at the intersection of Advertising x Culture as he helps brands like Sprite, McDonalds and State Farm curate content relevant for the cultural nuances of specific audiences.
Where is your intersection with The Culture?
Where I operate is at the intersection of Product Management x Startups x Culture. My story is ongoing, but I currently leverage my experience working in tech to help female and minority-led founders build great products customers love and gain access to funding. However, we each need to pick up the mantle and ask ourselves three key questions:
- What is your contribution to the culture?
- What skills/domain are you gaining mastery over and an in-depth experience in?
- Are you giving back and providing growth opportunities for others to succeed?
This is a short post to encourage you (as well as me) to continue to remain self-reflective and think about what difference we can make here on our home turf.