"You have to expand and differentiate your network," Leslie told Billboard after the panel discussion in downtown New York. "There's sort of like a new artist starter kit. I try to look at someone's phonebook and say, 'How many people are you talking to who’s going to be crucial to making you successful?' So if you're a new artist, you should have five photographers, five producers, five mix engineers, five bloggers, and those people are going to, because of your network and deepened relationships with them, exponentially increase your odds of success."
At 22 years old, Pro Era MC Joey Bada$$ -- who dropped his sophomore album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ in April -- is also bubbling on the business front. In 2016, the "Land of the Free" MC netted an endorsement deal with Calvin Klein. Earlier this year, he partnered with Mountain Dew to release his song "Victory" as part of their Courtside Project. The tandem shot the video in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend.
"[Partnerships are] something that I think is very important, especially in today's climate in the music industry in general," Bada$$ said during the panel discussion. "The new thing is partnerships, where before, 10 to 15 years ago, it was like you link up with a brand or a company and you're assigned to them. What's happening now is that you have all these owners and CEOs who are building their own platforms and are self-made."
Liles championed Bada$$' business views, adding, "Today you have the opportunity to create, to innovate and to structure a business model around your fans. You can be a blogger, a beautician, an artist and be a CEO."
Despite only releasing his debut album The Chief last February, Jidenna’s face has been plastered on notable TV shows. Last year, he guest-starred on Netflix’s original series Luke Cage and HBO’s Insecure. As he continues to flourish, Jidenna hopes he can use his platform to give back to Africa.
"I'm personally interested in thriving in Africa," Jidenna told Billboard. "America -- I'm doing it now. I have a lot more to offer, but they call us African-Americans, so we need both. It’s both continents: North America and Africa are very important to me.”
He added: "I’m trying to thrive globally. That’s why I’m here. I’m still young at this. I’m somewhat of an underdog, 'cause I don’t have the heavyweights that some of these guys that’s been here seven to 10 years have, but I’m starting in a place where I feel like I’ve already taken the baton from them and looking globally."