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Major Management Keys with Hip Hop’s Biggest Managers

Courtney Miller
Posted by Courtney Miller on Oct 6


photo by DV Photo & Video

In an open forum format, James Cruz (Cruz Control Marketing, President) allowed for attendees to ask questions and have each panelist relate through personal stories and lessons learned. The panel featured Chaka Zulu (Disturbing tha Peace, Culture Republic), Leighton Morrison (Generation Now, Co-Founder), G “Fly” Henry (Think It’s a Game Records) and Abou “Bu” Thiam (Bu Vision Entertainment, C.E.O.) who each answered questions in narrative form with brief anecdotes from their past experiences. Here are five major management keys gathered from five managers of hip hop's biggest artists.


photo by DV Photo & Video

  • “Management is a thankless job” -James Cruz

Managers are the backbone to any artist’s successful career. Before entering the career, many people should understand that managers don’t see money until after the money has been made, artist has been paid and all the help has also recouped any money provided. Managers also have to understand that this career of service and servitude isn’t a field to enter if you’re looking for instant rewards.


  • “Struggle is only what you make it to be” -Chaka Zulu

Everyone has a story. In every story, people reach crossroads and instances where they have to decide if “the small rock they see in the middle of the road will turn into mountain or a small speed bump in the journey”. While obstacles are inevitable, when working in the music industry towards a goal, managers and artists have to have a relentless pursuit for success.


  • “Nobody should want it more than you [the artist]” -Leighton Morrison

If your accountant, lawyer or assistant fall goes to sleep after you, you aren’t doing your job. All of the featured panelists agreed that in the artist and manager partnership, they should each be the hardest working people on the team. Even as an artist, no one, not even your manager, can want success more than you and one of the measures of the drive is the time and effort you put in. Your ambition and drive, or lack thereof, will always be present in the results rendered.


photo by DV Photo & Video

  • “It’s important to find balance in business and personal because [if not] it will find you” -G “Gly Henry

Mental health is continuously being pushed to the forefront of industry conversations and in careers of service, such as management, it’s easy to carry the burdens and workload for everyone else. Each panelist emphasized a point in their career where either their work life or personal life became more important than the other and the alternative suffered vastly. Fly, who recently worked through intense personal adjustments upon the arrival of his newborn daughter, explained how the imbalance of work and personal life affected him beyond his control. As a result, he had to make a choice, as the other panelists agreed, the consensus of the room emphasized that the area in which you serve the most will manifest positive outcomes and the area lacking will produce suitable outcomes. While many aspiring and up-and-coming managers and artists feel as if they have to overwork themselves to reach a certain level of notoriety, they should also beware of the price their family is consequently paying.  


  • “Artists are supposed to be different, if they aren’t different, I don’t want to be involved” -Abou “Bu” Thiam

While you have a publicist, damage control always spills over into the manager’s pool because the manager will always wear multiple hats. Some would say that dealing with artists' press and branding are issues that can be easily passed off to a publicist, but the reality is that artist reputations affect booking and networking opportunities and it is the job of the manager to go to repair the relationships and secure the bag regardless. The key to managing certain artistic and creative blips is to embrace the attitude and persona of a true celebrity. As Bu explained, “being different and adverse is apart of what makes an artist an artist because if they are too normal and too [laid back] then I don’t want business with them.”


photo by DV Photo & Video

Topics: a3c18, a3conference

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