I recently watched a mini-series on HBO called “The Defiant Ones”, which happens to be an exquisite entrée into the rise of a dynastic empire that is the partnership between moguls Jimmy Iovine and the legendary producer/rapper Andre Young a.k.a “Dr. Dre”. The series begins by reaching back to the days when Iovine “made his bones” if you will – producing records for individuals now in the Iconoclast of the record business (i.e. Bruce Springsteen & The East Street Band – Tom Petty – Stevie Nicks and one Mr. JOHN LENNON!). I get chills even as we speak at the thought that he was sitting in the studio as these masters of sound created albums that will never go out of style.
Then there was Dr. Dre’s days cooking up beats in the lab for N.W.A – for his own debut album “the Chronic” – for Snoop Dogg’s debut album “Doggstyle” – for Eminem’s debut album “The Slim Shady LP” – and the list goes on. The two – Iovine and Dre – were an unlikely pairing – the “yin and the yang” who came together and hit it off famously in large part due to Iovine’s vision and ability to think outside the box. When other labels wouldn’t take on Dr. Dre as he shopped his aforementioned debut album, Iovine (who knew nothing about hip-hop) on the other hand saw something that his contemporaries apparently did not. And boy oh boy was he ever right. The Chronic went on to go “multi-multi-” platinum and is celebrated to this very day in the pantheon of classic hip-hop albums.
Ah, but all the millions upon millions of album sales combined between the two old friends take a back seat to an idea they master-minded in a chance meeting one day on the beach of Southern California. The project: to create ground-breaking headphones which have by now revolutionized the game as they say. “Beats by Dre” headphones are widely recognized as the best of the best in the audio industry. But, don’t take my word for it…take Apple’s instead. After all the technology giant purchased the brand from Iovine and Dre for a reported THREE BILLION (plus) dollars back in 2014. Thus signaling to the world just how highly they thought of the product that Jimmy and his old pal Dre manufactured after what had started off as a novel idea on the beach became a fate-filled reality.
And, this brings me around to my word for the day. I guess it goes without saying that three billion dollars is a lot of money. Iovine and Dre certainly had a reason to celebrate after so profound a monetary score. But, if you notice, and I have, Jimmy Iovine and Dre have worn it well. In fact, Iovine was already doing well long before Beats was ever even conceived. He was in a position to sign Dre among many other artists years ago when Dre and others were looking for a big break. He’s “done been gettin’ money” if you will excuse my slang – and yet – you will not find Iovine on social media holding a “money phone” (Click here for image) up to his ear. You won’t find him walking around with eight gold-chains around his neck and rockin’ Gucci loafers to – well –everywhere (in the vein of young rappers and other black entertainers/athletes these days). You will not hear him bragging in the many interviews he’s done over the years about the number of digits housed in his bank account.
Mind you now: Jimmy has the nice cars and the nice homes. He has the private jet and all the other accoutrements – it’s just that he is not advertising it every time a camera or microphone is in the vicinity (yes he’s now a little older but the same can be said of Ed Sheeran – Taylor Swift – Harry Styles so slow your roll!). Now, I know Dre is the one (of the two) from the mean streets of Compton and an original member of N.W.A. – a group known for putting “gangsta’ rap” on the map. But @ the way Iovine carries himself in this regard…that’s what I personally consider “Gangsta(er)”.
Do not misunderstand me. Iovine is a businessman who very much intended to do well financially speaking. One might say he pursued the empire he has built with an unadulterated passion as the Defiant One’s documentary makes very clear. I am sure he enjoys the spoils that come with the money accumulated by way of the “American Dream”. However, unlike a lot of individuals in the black community (whom I am aiming today’s post towards) Iovine is not up here “stuntin’ on the gram” or on any other social media platform for that matter. And, what I am simply suggesting to my black brothers and sisters in particular is that we flip the culture or the script so to speak. Yes, by all means, celebrate your success with your family and friends, shoot…go ahead and rock some Gucci loafers from time to time if that’s your thing – but let’s progress to the point where we begin to wear our success along with those loafers…well….shall we?
Well, how to we break free from this neophyte mentality as a culture or community you ask? First, we must learn about real wealth and how to invest and manage that wealth. This starts with vision. Iovine would have never brainstormed the idea for “Beats” if he had thought he’d arrived and focused on flaunting his cash after he became a producer. Second, we must learn to be an original. Learn to think outside the box of the street corners to which far too many in the black community are confined during their/our formative years. I am not knocking the hood’ for one second (though we must find a way out literally and figuratively). What I am suggesting is that while the mentality forged in certain neighborhoods certainly has some positive aspects (toughness – loyalty – a “hustler” mentality – “swagger” and yes LOVE and family despite what many believe) – in many other ways it tends to be limited in scope. Third and final – give back to the community. Let’s invest in ourselves – in education – in innovative ideas; and ones that create new wealth across the board no less. What this does is it creates a different kind of culture than one that is focused on “blingin’ in the streets” and it also fills that void that we are trying to address by flossin’ on Instagram.
Listen: Be understated but not underestimated. Be a leader of the pack and not another young pup who is just a follower. Be proud but not conceded. Be like my man Jimmy Iovine and many others like him who walk lightly but carry a big stick. Now that’s gangster!
Oreos to go: These are the types of “Bios” in video below that I hope will define more black folks than at present – as we evolve from and transcend the sometimes narrow-minded mentality forged from the oppression we have experienced in America:
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.