Never Follow Trends sits down with Hip, owner of the XFMS brand. Hip is from my hometown of Yonkers, NY. When I was a teenager, I remember him always having the fly gear and whips. A very successful businessman in the music industry, his XFMS brand is now taking off as well. Let's get to know him...
1. Where were you born and raised, and what was your childhood like? I was born and raised in Yonkers, New York. I would travel to Columbus, Ohio every summer where I have a lot of family and stayed with my grandparents. I had a lot of older cousins there, and they "Hip'd" me to the game of life. So when I came back to NY I was more advanced then the kids in my neighborhood. I grew up in Whitney Young Projects, I was really into sports, Football and Basketball. I had dreams of becoming a pro athlete. Yonkers, NY is a place were we grew up having block parties in the parks with a DJ's. Free Parties On Jackson St, with performances by Hip-Hop legends; The Cold Crush Brothers, Funky Four Plus 1, The Treacherous Three. We also had one of the hottest Skating Rinks in Yonkers called, WHEELS. People from all over would come “Fresh To Death”, to break dance, electric boogie, and to see new artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, Run DMC, L.L. Cool J, Kurtis Blow, GrandMaster Flash and The Furious Five, and The Sugar Hill Gang. I've been blessed to have come up in the 80's and 90's era, where Hip-Hop was real.
2. You worked with some of the biggest artists in hip-hop, when and how did you get into the music business? In 1995, I came home from doing time in an up north Correctional Facility, to a work release program. My childhood friend Darien Dash let me work with him. He was the CEO of Digital Mafia, as well as Roc-A-Bloc Records with his Partner Ski Beats. I was with them in D&D Studios in Manhattan, where they were producing tracks on then, up and coming rapper Jay Z's "Reasonable Doubt" album. Being From Yonkers New York, and also seeing my hometown friends, Mary J Blige and The Lox blowing up, inspired me to learn all about the music industry. In 1996, I started Many Styles Entertainment. The first rap artist I signed to my management company was Richie Thumbs. He was signed to Roc-A-Bloc/Elektra Records. I also managed producers from Philadelphia, Black Key Beats, and The 8th Graders LR, as well as a producer from the Bronx, Bliz Money. We've done production on albums for artists such as, 50 Cent, DMX, Ludacris, Jadakiss, Freeway, Cam'ron, Styles P, and many more. As well as movie soundtracks for Roc-A-Fella Records, State Property, and Paid In Full. Jadakiss was the first artist to cut me a check. DMX put us on the map. He was nominated for a Grammy, and my first platinum plaque with over a million records sold, and the #1 album in the country.
3. What's your take of the hip-hop game in 2016? Hip Hop in 2016 is all about social media. An artist now has to be on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc, to market and promote to their fan base. It's way easier for new, up and coming artists to come up. I like some of the new movement, Chance the Rapper, J Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. Right now Hip-Hop is watered down, the music is elementary. A lot of these new artists don't respect the game, and the artists that paved the way for them to be in a position to have their music played on the radio, and go out and do shows, get money etc. I was listening to Lil Yachty on the radio, he says he didn't know BIG or Tupac's music. I think that's disrespectful to Hip-Hop. I believe an artist should know the ones that came before them, and respect the game. In sports, most of all the players know and respect the ones who played the game before them. I would love to see Hip-Hip artists come together and start a Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame, that would be major.
4. When did XFMS clothing become a part of your brand, and where did it originate from? I've always had a passion for fashion. My company Many Styles was a clothing line before I got into the music industry. Having social media, and thousands of followers, it's easy to wear your brand, promote, and get instant feed back. XFMS is two different companies. My partners Big Ro, and LiL E from Detroit had Xtended Family. We put them both of the them together and made it XFMS, which means Xtended Family/Many Styles. We all are Xtended Family, and we all got our own styles.
5. Who were some of your innovators and trendsetters you respected back in the day coming up? Growing up In Yonkers NY, Jadakiss Uncle's, Tommy G and Kurtis Goodwine, (RIP to both of them), Pop and Trey Harris, Ron Coop, all were some fly brothers getting money, and were all well respected in the hood. I must say growing up in Yonkers you had to be stay fly with the latest gear. I see a lot of Jadakiss uncles style, and his ways in him. They both would be proud of Kiss, as I am seeing him and the Lox represent for our city of Yonkers.
6. Favorite sports teams? In football, the NY Giants. NBA, I'm a Lebron James fan, so where ever he goes, that's my team. So right now I'm with the world champions, the Cleveland Cavs. I respect Lebron as a business man, he's in control of his own brand. His day one friends/brothers are eating with him, that's the type of loyalty that's very rare these days.
7. Favorite musicians? On the producer tip, Mike Well Made It, Young Metro, Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Pharrell, and Dr Dre.
8. One person in the world living or deceased that you could have 15 minutes to sit down with and pick their brain, who would it be? Louis Farrakhan
9. Where do you see the XFMS brand in the next 5 years? XFMS the brand will become a household name in the next five years. We've been paying our dues, with artists, producers, models, and the clothing line. A documentary on my life is in the works, as well as a book I'm currently working on. XFMS has a lot of talented people on our team.
10. What's the biggest piece of advice you can give a small business owner who's building their brand from the ground up? Stay focused, starting out in any business can be difficult. Having the right qualified people to help represent your company is a must. Now with social media it's so much easier to market and promote your business. You must keep pushing forward. Your breakthrough will come if you don't give up.
Thank you to Hip and the whole XFMS. Someone I've respected for a long time, and has always kept it 100!