Talking Culture and Code with Hip Hop Industry Experts at Atlanta’s A3C Festival

Talking Culture and Code with Hip Hop Industry Experts at Atlanta’s A3C Festival

By Jelisa Raquel

Last week, the A3C Festival & Conference — described as “the preeminent hip hop event in the U.S., commonly referred to as ‘hip-hop’s family reunion’” — descended upon Atlanta for the 12th year in a row.

The festival portion of the event consisted of more than 1,500 artists playing 75 different shows, while the conference featured more than 300 music industry experts talking entrepreneurship and sharing stories.

One standout panel, SMASHD: Culture + Code, featured music and tech industry heavyweights Troy Carter, Marlon Nichols and James Andrews. The panel, presented by Comcast, brought Carter, Nichols and Andrews together for an intimate conversation about personal journeys, tech, culture, innovation and hustle.

Carter started out working for companies such as Overbrook Entertainment and Bad Boy Records and eventually began managing artists such as Eve. In 2007, he founded Coalition Media Group, and in 2010, he founded its management division, Atom Factory. Since then, Carter has established the careers of numerous recording artists, including Lady Gaga.

Andrews, CEO of SMASHD Ventures, recently returned to Atlanta to join Carter and Cross Culture Ventures general partner Nichols in business. On the panel, the three innovators shared how they used grind, grit and hustle to become successful startup entrepreneurs within the hip hop industry.

Andrews described his mindset in some of his earliest days as, “so committed, and so driven that you will stop at nothing to get it done.” He and Nichols both reminisced about missing out on proper sleep for weeks to push out a product launch.

Meanwhile, Carter remembered attending a conference in D.C. in his early days where he didn’t even have a hotel room, so he slept in the stairwell. Thanks to his thirst for success, though, he never gave up and ultimately reached his goals.

Many up-and-coming entrepreneurs think you need to be fluent in Silicon Valley jargon and “startup language” to make it, but Andrews thinks otherwise.

“The fluency is in knowing your product and doing the due diligence to know your audience and your customer,” he insisted.

The bottom line of entrepreneurship, he said, is believing in your product and investing in people who will spend the time it takes to become as fluent in the product as you are.

As for Atlanta’s future as a catalyst for innovation, Andrews has high hopes.

“Atlanta is prime for a huge revolution,” Andrews said. “Because of the [Atlanta University Center], Georgia Tech, Emory and the fast-growing immigrant population in the city, it’s poised for amazing things.

Lead image via Pexels