WMG VP Kevin Liles Speaks On Entrepreneurship And His ‘Make It Happen’ Foundation
Interview Conducted & Written By Essohana Glinski
Have you recently taken note that more and more people are without jobs? Many of them are not job-less. They are entrepreneurs by choice, by alternative or by necessity. The younger generation view such entrepreneurs as Apple Inc.’s co-founder Steve Jobs, Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warner Music Group’s Vice President, Kevin Liles, as the faces of what’s possible – the new bridge to self-sustenance. So, is entrepreneurship the new “job?”
Kevin Liles’s rise to presidency at Def Jam Records [at the ripe age of 30 in 1998] has laid the foundation for countless other ventures to take shape, which has created jobs, inspired lives and changed the world.
Liles’s flatiron-district powerhouse is the place where his “Make It Happen” doctrine infuses our culture, daily. He shared his perspective about our evolving culture and our place within it.
What’s your opinion of contemporary hip-hop?
My personal likes and dislikes are up to me and it should be up to every consumer out there to say “I consume the things that I like.” But, to be a true artist you have to be able to sell art. What I don’t consider art is when you walk down the street and nobody knows who you are, which happens when it’s more important to make a hit single than to be a brand. The first three words of “artist” is art. So you have to be art. You can’t just be a song. But then again you might be in it to just be a song. It’s like iPod saying they’ll only sell 60 Gigabytes, not Nanos. Or Mercedes Benz only selling Maybach not C-Class, but not everyone is a Maybach. So there are differences that exist in hip-hop.
Are there fewer artists with iconic potential, today?
There’s only one LL. There’s only one Jay Z. When Jay came out you didn’t know he’d be an icon. But when he came out you knew there was something special about him. To give any artist iconic status (at the beginning of their career) is a biased assessment. Icons are created by doing iconic work. Jay did it his way and that allowed him to flourish. Kanye did it his way and that allowed him his own lane. It’s like Trey Songz: You know what you get when you ask for Trey. He’s a brand; his point of view is 16 – 30 year old females. Simply put icons project, “I am what I am, be with me, respect me, love me, hate me, but I am what I am.”