DJ Khaled and Diddy set the party off
Revolt kicked off the conference weekend off with a special ceremony featuring performances from "Don't Mind" rapper Kent Jones, R&B crooner Mario and soul singer Ro James, as well as a fireworks display for Diddy's big entrance. DJ Khaled even made an appearance next to his close friend and fellow mogul, as he was given the key to the city of his hometown, Miami. Later on in the evening, Khaled made his way over to a private Ciroc Mango event, where he debuted his #LetsGetIt commercial for celebrity friends, press and other brands in attendance.
Managers drop jewels
Day one of panels began with tons of gems being dropped in the managers panel, which featured Beyonce and Solange's father/manager Mathew Knowles, ByStorm Entertainment President Wayne Barrow, Primary Wave Talent management partner Steve Greener, and Meek Mill's brand manager James Lindsay. Each panelist shared their come-up stories in the business. Knowles, who is best known for managing Destiny’s Child, as well as Bey as the beginning of her solo career, shared that he used to be "where you’re all sitting," before he got his start as a top manager.
"You have to understand touring," Knowles instructed. "Touring is critically important. You have to understand the four-to-five revenue streams of an artist. The least way an artist is going to make money is selling records today." Knowles also added about today's music biz: “You have to be a therapist in most cases. As a manager, you have to know how to bring the best out of people."
Social media experts talks the importance of branding
Led by senior media executive Amy Dubois Barnett, the "Women in Social Media" panel was comprised of former Love & Hip Hop: New York star Tahiry, rapper and LHHNY album Cardi B, The Shade Room founder Angie Nwadu, XoNecole.com founder/CEO Necole Kane, and Fashion Bomb Daily editor/founder Claire Sulmers.
Each social media femme fatale shared how they gained multiple millions of followers, as well as what represents their brand. "I’m not afraid to let the world in," Tahiry offered about the transparency of her brand. Nwadu revealed how she was fired from an accounting job, and found viral success in launching a blog through the Shade Room Instagram account. Kane, who also founded the gossip site NecoleBitchie.com, explained how she catapulted her reach in gossip blogging to writing with a true positive purpose.
Fan favorite Cardi B seemed to steal the spotlight, as she brought some of her social media comedy to the stage. Speaking on her exotic dancer past, Cardi B explained that she wanted to be a famous model following her stripper career. "It was never an intention for me," she said of her following.
Moderator and Los Angeles Times journalist Gerrick Kennedy introduced a stacked panel full of hit-making producers, like Sean Garrett, Cool and Dre, Kosine, Tricky Stewart, and Roccstar. Each panelist offered insight into their humble beginnings, while offering words of wisdom to up-and-coming beatsmiths.
Roccstar brought the laughs with his story-telling about struggling to master his craft. “I was regular for so long,” he explained of his earlier beat-making, before going on to produce for the likes of Chris Brown, Usher and Jennifer Lopez. While offering advice to aspiring producers, Roccstar also explained, "You have to be a chameleon. We study what you’re on, and then we just blend right in with that joint." He added about working with J.Lo. "Working with [Jennifer Lopez], I gotta move with how J. Lo’s moving with her kids sitting there."
Platinum-selling songwriter Garrett also recalled earning his biggest placement with Usher, after teaming with the singer for the 2004 chart-topper “Yeah!” He added, "I look for that love and energy and that passion."
Influential DJs received praise
The "Respect The DJ" panel was filled with the airwaves' finest as Hot 97's Funkmaster Flex, Power 105.1's DJ Envy, DJ Irie, and DJ Drama hit the stage alongside moderator (and CEO/founder of Global Spin Media) Shawn Prez. While DJ Clue was praised by Drama and Envy for his impact on the DJ album game, Flex was also revered by the panelists as a forefather of the trend.
"You realize that doing an album is more of a headache than anything else. You realize these artists aren’t your friends," Envy said while speaking on following in Flex’s album footsteps. The Breakfast Club DJ shared an example by telling the story of how he helped out N.O.R.E. with rides back when he was a rising rapper but was still charged $30,000 when he asked the MC to be on his album. "It made me realize that I necessarily didn’t want that headache. It’s a business."
DJ Khaled's presence was not left out of the panel conversation, either, as all four panelists credited him for "carrying the torch," in releasing successful DJ albums like 2016's Billboard 200-topping Major Key.
The "Congressional Countdown" panel boasted women and racial empowerment
The star-studded "Congressional Countdown: Who's Got Next" recruited some of the "wokest" names in the business. With Brand Maverick Entertainment president Steve Jones on moderator duty, he first brought out actress Meagan Good, who touched on her biggest life goal of finding purpose. “It’s a purpose thing," she said. "What is your purpose, and how are you using it?"
Singer/actress Keke Palmer followed and saluted Good as "one of my biggest inspirations." Model/actress Eva Marcille, who originally pitched this particular panel idea to Revolt, joined the ladies, and discussed her modeling and acting career, and how it led her to wanting to be an inspiration for others. Black-ish fans were pleased to see actress and activist Yara Shahidi join the panel. The 16-year-old served up motivational wisdom, offering, "When you find that singular passion or that drive, everything else comes naturally." Shahidi also noted how she joined the hit ABC television series because she enjoyed its "multi-faceted perspective" on the black community.
Marketing mogul Karen Civil rounded out the panel, discussing how she went from making a fan website for the Backstreet Boys to interning for Funkmaster Flex at Hot 97, and now, to making visits to the White House for her Always Civil brand. "The Internet can give me what I want," she said of her branding beginnings.
The conversation then turned to social issues with Miami, with Commissioner Keon Hardemon speaking on the racial tensions within America. “You deserve to be pissed off,” he boldly addressed to the black community in the U.S. Palmer found herself shedding tears as she discussed racism in society, and carrying the burden of her ancestors.
“I remember when I turned 13, [I wondered] ‘Why do I keep having anxiety thoughts?’" she recalled. "I’m carrying the burden of my ancestors. Imagine what it was like for you to love somebody and have to see them get raped. Imagine what it was like to see your mama get taken from you! Imagine what that was like. We carry that burden. We gotta stop hiding from that. That hurts!” After leaving on that emotional note, there were very few dry eyes in the room.
Nas received the Jimmy Iovine Icon Award
Saturday's events concluded with an extremely special ceremony gala dedicated to rapper Nas, who received the Jimmy Iovine Icon Award. Host by actor/comedian Chris Spencer, the ceremony ran through footage Nas' biggest hits, his business life, his come-up in the music industry since his 1994 classic debut Illmatic, as well as personal messages from his closest collaborators AZ, Swizz Beats and Russell Simmons among others. Other VIPs in the crowd included Busta Rhymes and N.O.R.E., as well as DMX, who delivered a speech on stage for his Belly co-star. "It’s an honor to call you a friend and a true, true artist. Not many artists have inspired me," X said.
Nas' daughter, Destiny Jones, also pleasantly surprised her father as she spoke of growing up with her famous father throughout the years. He later joked that she made her dad believe that she had other plans, and would not be attending the gala. After hearing remarkable words from Translation founder/CEO (and former manager) Steve Stoute, Diddy gave the final speech of the evening, to present the Queens rap veteran with his award. "What he’s been able to do, going to Silicon Valley, the way he’s been able to move quietly, while a lot of us, including myself, move so loud, it’s something in the silence,” Puff said. "You are the true definition of black excellence."
After touching on first connecting with Nas after doing a Mobb Deep video in Queensbridge, he praised the rapper for his great lyricism and famous story-telling abilities, calling him "more than an icon" in music. As Nas finally took the stage, he was met with a standing ovation.
"I’m honored beyond words," he said. "I’m honored to be here with you guys who started this Revolt thing, which means to rise up, which means change, which means rebel. I think it’s God’s plan that it’s only befitting that I should receive a Revolt Award." He even responded to his daughter’s speech, joking, "I’ll always play Barbies with you anytime." Speaking directly to his fellow rap moguls, Nas concluded, "I’m your soldier. I’m always here for you guys."