From The Blocks To The Blogs
Since the social media burst in 2004, Hip Hop Industry tastemakers and artists have embraced these platforms as an essential tool to connect with fans and to extend their brand. These early adaptors learned to engage fans, disseminate content and create brand awareness. What are the new trends and next steps for Hip Hop and social media?
Ryan Ford was always destined for a career within the music industry. At just 12 years old, the young hip-hop supporter began DJing on a local radio station in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. The popularity of his weekly broadcast quickly earned Ryan credibility as a growing expert in the music and culture of the genre. Continuing to expand this knowledge over time, Ryan’s prowess took him from the Iowa airwaves to a critical role at one of the most influential music publications ever. He has since graduated to the position of Vice President, Creative Strategies at digital marketing authority, Cashmere Agency. His work driven by an unrivaled passion for beats and rhymes, Ryan withstands as one of the most multi-faceted talents in the business.
During his college years, Ryan flirted with another love: football. When he was accepted into the University of Kansas in 1995, it was as an offensive guard for the Jayhawks. Music, however, remained an unfulfilled calling. He eventually transferred to the University of Iowa, where hip-hop again became his primary focus. His expertise earned him a role at the university radio station as Urban Music Director. While juggling the responsibilities inherent to that title, Ryan interned for the Iowa Bystander. The historic publication holds the distinction of being the oldest black newspaper west of the Mississippi. The experience gleaned from his time at the Bystander equipped Ryan with the skills necessary to depart Iowa with a B.A. in Journalism.
Eager to continue advancing, Ryan moved to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree in African-American Studies at UCLA. He also held a focus area in Ethnomusicology. Upon arrival in California, Ryan quickly gained an esteemed reputation as a freelance journalist, naturally specializing in the field of music. His writing was sought by numerous high-profile publications, including the often-touted hip-hop “bible,” The Source. Upon his graduation, he was eventually hired as the magazine’s West Coast Correspondent. Ryan then determinedly climbed the masthead until finally landing the role of Executive Editor.
Ryan interviewed hundreds of artists, executives, politicians, activists and celebrities during his eight years with The Source. In addition to playing a pivotal role in the construction and content of every issue, Ryan penned numerous cover features for the publication. These included luminaries like Ice Cube, and another icon that he would soon work with in a different capacity, Snoop Dogg. His tenure at The Source meant that Ryan’s input was even sought by major television networks. He made several on-camera contributions to the E! network programs, True Hollywood Story: Snoop Dogg and True Hollywood Story: Hip-Hop Wives.
After accomplishing all that he hoped to as a music journalist, Ryan amicably parted ways with The Source. He was then recruited by the Cashmere Agency, one of the entertainment industry’s premier lifestyle marketing agencies. Ryan came aboard with lofty expectations, and ascended to the role of Vice President, Creative Strategies. In this capacity, Ryan oversees all creative and communication strategies. He is now renowned as the foremost creative mind at the company, building out many of the companies most successful programs and campaigns. He constantly works to identify and integrate the changing dynamics between brands and young consumers. In addition, Ryan has been an essential point of contact for Cashmere Agency’s growing list of clients. This formidable line-up of clients includes Captiol Records, the E! Channel, Warner Bros. Studios, Pepsi, Red Bull, Numark/Akai, EA, Def Jam, Adidas, and HBO.
One client Ryan works most closely with is his former cover story subject, hip-hop icon, Snoop Dogg. Cashmere has redefined the legendary MC as one of the most tech-savvy artists in the world today. Through the agency’s creative campaigns and consistent stream of unique digital content, Cashmere has made Snoop’s Twitter page the definitive hub for all related content. Ryan’s dedication to providing fans an interactive Snoop Dogg experience has helped take the esteemed rapper to more than five million online followers. The number continues to grow at what is an astonishing pace.
Karen Civil is a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey and founder of KarenCivil.com. She's held positions at New York's Hot 97 FM, Diplomat Records and Cash Money Records. In addition, she's launched websites such as : dipsetmixtapes.com, weezythanxyou.com and inflexwetrust.com. Karen is currently the social media manager at Beats By Dre.
Justin Siegel is Co-Founder & CEO at MocoSpace. He is an experienced mobile entertainment executive who has successfully started and built several consumer product companies. Justin has taken MocoSpace from an idea to an industry leading, profitable business. Justin also co-founded and served as CEO at JSmart Technologies, a leader in mobile games and entertainment. Justin built the company into one of the top publishers and developers in the United States before it was acquired by the SK Group in 2004.
Content creator, blogger, magazine editor, author, and television producer, Elliott “YN” Wilson is the Founder and CEO of RapRadar.com and Editor of RESPECT. magazine. He’s most famously, the former Editor-In-Chief of XXL magazine where he led the hip-hop publication to becoming the top-selling monthly music magazine in the U.S. He’s also co-founder of ego trip, the short-lived, widely acclaimed independent magazine that morphed into successful books and television shows. Wilson is co-author of two critically acclaimed books, ego trip’s Book of Rap Lists and ego trip's Big Book of Racism! as well as an executive producer of VH-1’s highly-controversial reality shows, ego trip’s The [White] Rapper Show and ego trip’s Miss Rap Supreme. Elliott lives in NYC with his wife, Danyel Smith Wilson. She's pretty popular her damn self.
Nick Adler is the Strategic Brand Manager at Stampede Management, tasked with aligning high end talent with companies and brands all over the world. His talent roster contains the likes of Snoop Dogg, Far East Movement, Mystikal, YG, the Airplane Boys and a handful of emerging artists. Nick's artists have worked with companies like Adidas, Pepsi, Skullcandy, Verizon and many others. Originally from New York, Nick has been a part of the music, television and film scene since the early 2000's. Nick found his way to LA after completing his law degree in New York where he co-founded the Woodstock Film Festival, which then lead to him becoming a Producer on "Snoop Dogg's Father Hood." Nick Adler is setting the trends for branded entertainment on all levels from coast to coast.
Devi Dev currently does a morning show with MTV's Sway Calloway on SiriusXM's Shade 45. Based out of N.Y but broadcasting nationally #SwayInTheMorning can be heard daily Monday-Friday 8a-12p on Shade45.
Prior to Sirius, Devi did Middays at 97.9 The Box in Houston and was a Music Director and On-Air personality at 93.5 KDAY in Los Angeles.