Born and Raised: East Hartford, Connecticut. Right outside of Hartford. My hometown got national attention last year because Betsy DeVos called my high school an “adult daycare” and one of America’s “failing school districts.” My town came together and called out her baseless claims (from one student’s experience). The whole incident was foolish, but I’m proud that my community clapped back!
MBTI: I’m an ENTJ, which reportedly means I’m destined for the C-Suite. But I saw a tweet recently that called Myers-Briggs “zodiac signs for corporate America.” I thought that was pretty funny.
Educational Background: MBA from the Ross School of Business of the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s from Quinnipiac University
Current Computer/Mobile Device: Got an iPhone X that I use quite a bit. I also have an old MacBook Air that I gotta replace… My wife keeps telling me I need to get a new one. She’s right, but I keep putting it off.
What do you do for a living?
I recently started Trapital, a newsletter about hip-hop business. I break down the important stories and strategic moves that shape the culture. In just a few months, Trapital has gotten praise from music executives, venture capitalists and national media outlets. Read more about it here.
What’s something you’ve learned recently?
I learned that hip-hop producer Tay Keith is still in college. It’s interesting, but not surprising. I wrote about him and other producers in a recent Trapital story.
How do you keep track of what you’ve done?
I update my website pretty regularly. I post most of my writing there and highlight my best stories. It helps me look back and see how it’s all progressing.
What are your favorite apps/tools that help you do what you do?
Evernote! I use it for everything. I also use Substack, which is the platform I write Trapital on. I go on Twitter a lot to see what folks are talking about.
When you make sacrifices for your work, do you tell people or keep it to yourself?
I tend to keep it to myself. Everyone I know works hard and is busy, and I don’t think I’m any different.
What is your most significant accomplishment? Is there anything you hope to do even greater?
Starting Trapital. I’m still in the early stages, but the initial response has validated my vision. To start something from scratch and see how it resonates with folks is extremely gratifying. It’s already opening doors, and I’m excited to see where it will go from here.
What do you do to recharge yourself?
I go for walks around my neighborhood. No cell phone, no technology. It’s nice to disconnect and take it all in.
What is the most recent dream you remember having while sleeping?
I recently had a dream I was hanging out with Michael B. Jordan. I guess I’m excited about the next Creed movie haha.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a while? If so, what is it and why haven’t you?
I want to make a documentary about the 1995 Source Awards. It’s one of the most pivotal moments in hip-hop history. I want the doc to be top-notch: released on Netflix or HBO and directed by one of the best in the game. I will need more resources and connections to make it happen. Soon enough.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by successful entrepreneurs, especially those who overcame a difficult upbringing and stayed true to who they are without selling out.
How do you define success, and do you consider yourself successful by that definition?
Doing what you want to do with your career and life. And yes, I consider myself successful. I’m grateful for all the support I’ve had to make it possible.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual? If so, what is it?
I usually wake up and go for a run, come back, have some oatmeal, then get ready to start working.
For what are you most grateful?
My health, my family and friends. Can’t take anything for granted. I am fortunate I can spend time building things that interest me. Not everyone has that opportunity.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
My older brother. His perspective guided me growing up. He’s a great father to his kids, so that’s been inspiring to watch.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m an Eagle Scout. Most people are surprised because there’s not THAT many black Eagle Scouts. I’m grateful for the leadership skills I developed at a young age, but it came at a cost. I experienced a fair amount of racism in scouting. Not sure if I would want my kids to go through that.
What scares you most?
Looking back and feeling that I didn’t enjoy life.
What do you feel your impact is on those around you? What would you like it to be?
My family and friends think that I push and support them in all they do. I’m not afraid to ask them tough questions–whether it’s at home, work or hanging out.
Where is your favorite place?
There’s a small park near my apartment in San Francisco that my wife and I go to often. It’s great to hang out and relax on the weekend.
How did you meet your wife?
We went to college together; met back in 2006 and started dating 2009. We’ve been together ever since.
If you could take a one-month trip anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you do?
Nigeria and Ghana. I grew up around people from both countries. Their culture always reminded me of Jamaica, which is from where all my family is. I want to meet locals, eat amazing food and relax.
Do you have a favorite restaurant? If so, what is it?
I love Limon Rotisserie. It’s a Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco. The food is amazing. They catered our wedding reception.
What is your favorite comfort food?
A burrito. I live in the Mission District of San Francisco, which is the go-to spot for burritos. I eat one for dinner at least once a week.
What is your favorite food to prepare?
Every Easter, I bake a Jamaican spice bun. It’s become a tradition.
In conversation do you tend to talk or listen more?
I ask people a lot of questions, so I tend to listen more.
What are you looking for when you have a conversation with someone? What topics do you want to discuss?
I look for compelling stories. I love talking about business, pop culture, hip-hop, NBA, movies. There are so many intersections and parallels in those areas. I can discuss any of those topics at length.
If you were guaranteed honest answers to two questions, what would you ask and to whom?
I would ask Ken Chenault (former CEO of American Express) how he stayed on top for 17 years! Most Fortune 500 CEOs don’t last half that time.
I would also ask Akon how he navigated the transition from music superstardom to business and philanthropy so seamlessly. I think a lot of artists are trying to follow his path. It’s something I plan to cover in Trapital soon.
What piece of literature has influenced you the most?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I almost wanted to go to law school after reading that.
What are you currently reading or is the last book you read?
I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Great storytelling and writing.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve read online recently?
I read a Twitter thread about the bars that made folks realize 2Chainz was a “poet laureate.” It’s an amazing thread. I had to contribute.
Who is your favorite person to follow on social media?
Easy, @DragonflyJonez on Twitter. Dude has me cracking up! I listen to his podcast, Jenkins and Jonez once in a while, too. He keeps it a buck and loves calling people out on their bullshit, which I appreciate.
What is a song, album or playlist that everyone should hear?
The Fugees’ The Score, but not for the reason you think. It was one of my favorite albums growing up, but it’s ripe with respectability politics and other problematic themes that haven’t aged well. It’s important for folks to understand how hip-hop has evolved by revisiting albums like The Score.
When is the last time you cried and why?
A couple of months ago. A good friend of mine passed away suddenly. He had an unknown heart condition and died at 36 years old. He was engaged, getting ready to get married in 2019. It’s extremely tragic and sad. I’m still processing it all.
What has been your biggest disappointment in life, and how did you handle it?
I’ve been turned down for many opportunities throughout life: jobs, colleges, promotions. Each one stings at the moment, but it usually works out better that they never happened. I like to keep that same energy.
What makes you angry?
When people aren’t respectful of one another. How you treat people means everything.
What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?
I wish I slept more back then! I was in business school five years ago. It was a great experience that I got a lot out of, but there wasn’t much time to sit back and relax.
When was the last time you tried something new? What was it?
This summer I ate some alpaca. It tastes a lot like lamb. We were in Peru, where it’s a pretty popular dish.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take risks! You have less to lose than you think. Don’t be afraid to try new stuff out.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Not to disqualify myself from opportunities. Let other people do that, and don’t rule myself out. That perspective has opened a lot of doors for me.
What is happiness to you?
The freedom to spend my time doing what I want.
Do you have a mantra or quote that guides your life?
If you don’t do it, someone else will.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who made an impact and someone who spent quality time with family and friends.
Who would you like to answer these questions?
You should hit up Rahshiene Taha and Kalin Meyer. They run 7|X, a collective that highlights media, experiences and digital content from different creators.
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