From intern to CEO, Kevin Liles sits atop the food chain


In 1989, Numarx (Studio Records) and Kevin Liles wrote the hit single “Girl You Know It’s True.” Due to contract restrictions, Milli Vanilli recorded the song and went on to ascend the charts. After this debacle, Liles dedicated his fortuitous career to the full representation of the artists’ best interests.

Def Jam dreams

In 1991, Liles started his career in the music industry as an unpaid intern for Def Jam Recordings. As a byproduct of his dedication, timeliness, and outstanding networking ability, Liles doubled Def Jam’s yearly revenue. As a true trailblazer and hip-hop pioneer, he led diversification efforts in digital, gaming and global brand development. When individuals within the spheres of hip-hop chose to zig,  Liles continued to zag.

Image result for kevin liles freestyle 50 challenge

By the time Liles had reached his seventh year with Def Jam, he became an owner of the company and inherited the official CEO title. The focal point of Liles’ uninhibited success is treating artists as developmental investments, rather than recruits with disposable talent. Universally recognized as the almighty “Hip-Hop Self-Help Guru” this man fully immerses his sponsorships, partnerships and collaborative efforts with a hands on, involved approach that fixates upon laser focus and nonstop progression.

Streams of revenue

Liles did not amass the level of grandeur and global recognition by solely focusing on a singular realm of hip-hop business ventures. This bright executive has invested in telecommunications (TrueComm), pharmaceuticals (KevDar) and education (NextGen). He also formed the reputable, “Make it Happen” foundation which nurtures and grooms aspiring young individuals into future entrepreneurs. The amount of hunger and downright will to win exceeds anyone within his tax bracket. Not only does Liles exemplify the intangibles of business and what it takes to reach the top tier, but he is passing on his knowledge for the future generations. He is clearly a supreme being, model citizen and the epitome of climbing the ranks for longevity’s sake.


Since straying from Def Jam, Liles formed KWL Enterprises and 300 Entertainment. The Atlantic Records offshoot, 300 Ent. partners with Twitter, Youtube and Google Ventures to coincide with the evolution of the times, not against the tide of changing tides. To drive out obsolescence and strive for the coming generation, Liles believes in Generation E which stands for Education, Entrepreneurship and Empowerment.

Hip-Hop might not be the only way

Hip hop exists as an artistic medium and a manifold of worldviews, replete with valuable lessons about undying honest work ethics, discipline and perseverance. Liles’ book, “Make It Happen: The Hip-Hop Generation Guide to Success” concentrates upon the lesser- known and widely unacknowledged facts that a record deal or a sports contract are not the only routes to achieving prosperity.

“Don’t just be a receiver, be proactive and create defining moments. I challenge myself every day, how can I bring more value? Your value proposition has to be great.”

Amongst other important qualities, Liles’ willingness to dig deep and invest the entirety of his time into the most menial tasks separates him far apart from his peers. His beliefs widely echo the sentiment that every manager should work tirelessly harder than the artist so that the artist can reap the rewards of the risks that they take.

“As a manager, artists are entrusting you with their life. Not their song, their studio or performance schedule –their life.”

Chasing his passion and gaining experience has led Liles to offer contracts to artists such as Trey Songz, Nelly, Big Sean, Estelle and D’Angelo. Through wholesome holistic thinking, reputable and capable infrastructure and profound expertise, Liles maximizes profitability by creating a brand that soundly resonates throughout the hip-hop stratosphere. His business model can be described as fully functional, full service and grinds around the clock. Some of their daily tasks include: recording, publishing, marketing and promoting music through philanthropy, communication and brand positioning.

Freestyle opportunity

To promote Verizon’s 7GB of data plan for only $50, Liles pitched the idea of the #Freestyle50 challenge.  Verizon embraced the idea as a way to develop an expansion of the relationship between hip-hop and adaptive technology. Through social media platforms, thousands of participants submitted their entries in order to contend for the rights to $10,000, a song with producer LondononDaTrack, and a singles’ publishing deal with 300 Entertainment.

“I’m giving you the starter-kit, you still gotta put in the work. Technology has offered an opportunity for you to showcase yourself every single day.”

In the business of online interactive streaming, where people demand live-look ins and total access, brand extension becomes a crucial part of survival. Survival and advancement through adaptability are core principles of the company that Liles has built.  Liles has ensured his ultimate relevance through critical cross- marketing, wise investments and ingenuity.


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