Tag Archives: Universal Records

30 Under 30. Forbes counts F2FA founders among the brightest.

Isaac Boateng and Sandra Appiah are two to watch.

Isaac Boateng and Sandra Appiah are two to watch.

Damn, I’m good.

Why, you ask?

Well this week two young cats I mentor were honored with a remarkable distinction.

They were cited in an article in Forbes magazine.

You know Forbes?

The financial publication for business scions, industry titans and world leaders.

Yeah. That Forbes.

The article, titled, 30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs, featured 30 of Africa’s most enterprising young entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

If you know Forbes, then you know that this is a pretty big accomplishment.

So you can imagine how my chest swelled with pride as I read the article.

Sandra Appiah, 23 and Isaac Boateng, 28, both Ghanaian nationals are the founders of Face2Face Africa (F2FA), a New York city-based new media company with a mandate to restore Africa’s image within the global community.

Sandra Appiah and Isaac Boateng are my mentees.

Mind you, they didn’t even tell me they were being cited.

Amazing and modest? I love these kids!

It just popped up Monday morning in one of my Google Reader feeds.

Now I’m not one to brag…

Yes I am.

But I have a knack for molding young talent.

Stop laughing.

I’m serious.

I’ve worked with and mentored two other young entrepreneurs, who have achieved similar distinctions.

So this was not a fluke.

It started with Corey Llewellyn.

“CL” as he’s know among his friends, was one of my first clients back in the day.

He walked into my office and asked me to help him start a company.

At the time, he couldn’t afford me, but I took him on anyway.

He was a smart kid, with great ideas and hella contacts.

And I could see that spark in him that told me he was going places.

Fast forward to 2008 and The Network Journal listed CL as a member of the 40 Under 40 class of 2008.

And the company, Digiwaxx, is a household name in the music industry.

He was 30 at the time.

Then there was Chris Anokute.

He too, had the spark of greatness.

Chris told me he was going to be a record executive the moment I met him.

When everyone was saying he should finish college, I told him to follow his dream.

I got him his first internship at a record label, and the rest is history.

In 2007, Billboard saw what I saw and listed Chris in their 30 Under 30 class.

He was just 24.

And the kid who started off as my intern, is now the Senior Vice President of A&R at Universal Records.

So it’s not without precedent that my current underlings are getting their props.

Forbes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, I can’t really take credit for the success that these cats have achieved.

Their vision for Face2Face Africa crystalized long before they encounter the entrepreneur whisperer.

That’s me.

All I did was help them cut to the chase and fast track the success (that they’ve already started to achieve).

In fact, my best work comes from working with cats who know what it is that they want to do.

Folks like this just need a reassuring word or objective advice to keep them on the right path.

And I’m quite adept at helping people see their untapped potential.

There I go bragging again.

Anywho, the point of this meandering post, is that Sandra Appiah and Isaac Boateng, are two young cats who’s names you’d better remember.

If, for no other reason, than I told you so…

Because I just did.

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Chris Anokute: The Making of A Music Mogul

Kissed a Girl. California Gurls. Yeah, Chris did that.

A little over 12 years ago, I met this young man eager to make it in the music industry.

One day, a motley entourage of Black men, pushing some blond dreadlocked artist, walked into my office looking for an entertainment attorney.

At the center of this mass of Black men was an R&B singer named Don Conner.

In addition to Don, there was a ‘manager’ whose name escapes me (but claimed he was behind numerous successful boy groups), and a ‘money guy’ named Isaac Morgan.

A few other non-descript hanger-onners rounded out the posse and filled up my (then) small office.

And the very back of the office, sat Chris.

Mr. Manager started jabbering about how talented Don was, and how he was the next Jaheim.

Money Morgan talked about the distribution agreement they were ‘just about’ to sign, and the need to make sure that they had all their ‘paperwork’ in order.

Don said he simply wanted to sing and to ensure that his people were ‘taken care of.’

Their mouths moved a lot during that meeting, but very little was actually said.

The person who spoke the loudest to me, never opened his mouth.

That was Chris.

The entire meeting, he sat in the back of the room, listening, clearly taking it all in.

When the talking heads stopped, Mr. Manager-whose-name-I-can’t-remember got up and assured me that we were ‘going to do business.’

Mr. Money promised to follow up, once they had ‘things in place.’

The various hangers-onners gave pounds, head nods or blank stares as the entourage filed out of the room.

Chris politely shook my hand, and joined the large moving mass of Black men making their way out of my Montclair office.

Needless to say, nothing ever became of Don Conner.

Turns out he was already being managed, under a production contract with a distribution agreement in place to deliver six records.

A few years later, who should walk into my office, but Chris.

There was no motley entourage or talking heads.

Just Chris, solo.

This time, he came to ask for my advice on the best way to make it in the music industry.

Since that day he visited my office those many years ago, he remembered our initial meeting.

I impressed him as someone who shot straight, even if I said things that you didn’t want to hear.

We spoke at length about all the things he had done to this date, including working in Whitney Houston’s camp, promoting independent artists and hosting parties, along with waiting tables and going to school.

He told me that he had a passion for music and felt that God had given him the gift of an ‘ear.’

He could hear a hit instantly. We’ll talk about this platinum ear in at length in another post.

Although I felt his ‘ear’ was immaterial at the time, he impressed me as an individual with singular purpose and drive.

It was clear that he had experience in production, management, and promotion.

And had a hustler’s get-it-done-at-all-costs mentality, which was impressive for someone so young.

I told him that he was on the right path, because he was seeking out knowledge and advice from people in the industry.

The only thing I felt he was missing from his repertoire, was an understanding of the business side of the industry.

The music industry is a business, first and foremost.

And without the ability to understand the rights, liabilities and obligations of the respective parties to transactions, you were simply spinning your wheels.

So I gave him an internship.

A few years later, we started a management company.

Signed a few acts (Alkatraz and JUS). Hmm…wonder where are they now?

Got our first publishing deal.

Fast forward to 2010, and Chris is one of the youngest and most successful A&R’s in the music industry.

After a three year stint as Senior A&R pop at Virgin/Capitol Records, he is now Sylvia Rhone‘s most recent executive acquisition at Universal/Motown, charged with giving the label a pop presence.

For the guy who A&R’d Joss Stone, found Katy Perry, Stacie Orrico (and many more) he’s up to the task.

Check out Christian TV.

I’ve skipped over some of the juicy bits of Chris’ rise to fame.

But that’s for another time.

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