Republic Records co-founders and label heads Monte and Avery Lipman went home again on Thursday (June 24) to deliver a commencement address to their alma matter high school in Montclair, New Jersey.
Speaking before a crowd of graduating Montclair High School students, they brought a special guest along, Republic artist Coi Leray — who’s also a New Jersey native — presenting her with an honorary degree.
“The spirit of Republic Records started right here in Montclair, New Jersey,” said Monte Lipman, the label’s CEO. “I remember at my graduation the commencement speaker talked about challenges met during our four years of high school. But what you’ve endured and experienced, is truly one for the history books. With the events of the past 15 months, you’ve been challenged in ways that are unimaginable. In addition to being high school students, I can only imagine many of you have become caregivers, social activists and may have suffered great loss. You may not realize it now, but this moment will set you apart from generations to come and has prepared you for the unpredictability of life.”
Taking turns speaking, Avery Lipman, Republic president and COO, continued to describe how he and his brother launched Republic “on our dad’s kitchen table with about $800 from selling our baseball card collection.” He said, “And while it may look very glamorous from the outside looking in, the road to success has not been an easy one. As a matter of fact, it’s been the failures and disappointments that have served as our greatest and most constructive lessons.
“Again; this is an important point: those situations that didn’t work out, where we made mistakes, where we got fired (in Monte’s case three times); each of these were learning experiences, where we took the negative and frustrations and flipped that into inspiration to keep moving forward.”
In the spirit of resilience, Monte Lipman next referenced one of the songs that he and Avery built their careers on, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and the perennial lyrics — which in all likelihood few, if any of the graduates were familiar with previously: “I get knocked down but I get back up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.”
“This has become our mantra for the past 25 years,” he said.