If you’re going to do a lead feature on ’30 under 30, the future of the music biz’ it is impossible to ignore the ascension of Stormzy, one of the biggest success stories of 2015.
At the very least Stormzy’s manager Tobe has to be recognised for his tireless dedication and hard work, as does the rest of Stormzy’s team.
At a time when Grime is an international export, UK Rap and Hip-Hop shows dominate the live circuit, the airwaves, and the internet, it is impossible to produce a list that doesn’t reflect the individuals that are playing pivotal roles in making these events happen.
In 2016 you cannot create a list of 30 under 30 that are described as the ‘future of the music biz’ that doesn’t include people of colour.
Everything is changing, the way artists market themselves, fans consume music, and so must the way that these lists are compiled. All emerging talent needs the opportunity to shine, not just the faces that fit, or those that are part of an agenda.
There are a lot of talented people doing great things right now. Self made individuals who will disrupt and break the rules, create new standards and deter mediocrity. Some of them you know, others that you could easily discover with a bit of research.
For me and the team at Nation Of Billions these are some of the execs, creatives, and visionaries who are the future of the music biz. 30 more under 30.
Tobe Onwuka, 24
In 2014 Tobe Onwuka quit his day job at a luxury car dealership to manage his long time friend Stormzy. Stormzy has always been insistent that together they could tear up the rules and do it themselves without the help of an established manager or management company. Their loyalty and trust has paid off as they constantly go from strength to strength, negotiating their own deals, charting records in the top 10, and forging their own career paths. With every record label pursuing Stormzy for his signature, its actually a disgrace that Tobe isn’t mentioned in any kind of ’30 under 30′ list by a music industry publication.
Tre Jean Marie, 22
A diverse 22 year old producer and topline writer published by BMG, Tre’s recent credits include Jason Derulo, Craig David, MNEK, Snakehips and Kaytranada. Tre is also the owner of an extensive publishing company Decibel Songs in a joint venture with Bucks, which publishes two billboard chart topping songs from A$AP Rocky and Ariana Grande.
Afro B, 22
DJ/Producer & artist, all whilst studying at University, Afro B hosts his own series of Coco nights across the UK, and sets the streets on fire with his own unique combination of Afrobeat and UK Rap. He is the only DJ that trends on twitter every Saturday night thanks to his exclusive mixes and productions that airs on his weekly Radar radio show.
Chloe Fletcher, 26
Working in the MTV international Talent & Music team, Chloe serves as the direct contact point for international music releases for MTV networks worldwide (ex. North America). As a Talent & Music exec, she liaises with label marketing teams, coordinating TV and digital promotions, as well as working across MTV priority events such as the MTV EMAs and MTV World Stage.
Kaylum Dennis, 19
At 19 years old Kaylum Dennis got his first real industry nod after his Link Up TV video for WSTRN’s debut smash ‘IN2’ went viral. Hitting hundreds of thousands of views within days, Kaylum’s name was catapulted to a new stratosphere. Soon after, Kaylum became Stormy and Section Boyz official videographer, and has travelled all over the globe filming for different people. Some of his more notable videos include; Yungen’s ‘Chip Disses’, WSTRN’s ‘IN2’ Remix and Stormzy’s ‘One Take’ freestyle shot and edited within 24 hours of being in Japan.
Tiann Rowland-Dixon, 19
As A&R Research Scout for Columbia Records UK, Tiann is tasked with finding brand new, up and coming artists, all while monitoring social media & music platforms by day and attending gigs all around London by night. Tiann is one of the younger execs in the list and with her position at the frontline is not only witnessing the next generation of amazing talent but is in a unique position to introduce that talent to the major label world.
Joss Meek, 26
Head of digital press at Wired PR, Joss is one half of the female duo who’ve built up the company from the ground up. A Music Journalist and Social Media Manager, twice featured as a ‘Tastemaker’ in Music Week, Joss has been writing for online publications for the past 6 years, including Hypetrak, Hype Machine blog “When The Gramophone Rings”, Vice Blog, We Are SME as well as being Music Editor for ‘Who’s Jack Magazine.’ Joss has also added another notch to her belt presenting a new show on Hoxton Radio and has a documentary in the works.
Sade Lawson, 25
Working in the Marketing department at Sony Music/Relentless Records, Sade Lawson has handled campaigns for global artists such as Bryson Tiller and Joey Bada$$ to name a few as well as assisting across other Relentless acts. In her role, Sade stays on top of radio, promotion and artist marketing as well as personally assisting the Managing Director of Relentless.
Jamz Supernova, 23
A regular presenter on BBC Radio 1Xtra. Jamz Supernova has become a solid fixture on BBC Radio 1Xtra’s schedule over the past year with 3 shows a week. She is fast becoming a trusted tastemaker on her Tuesday night show which focuses on pushing the freshest future Rnb and Beats. Jams has also been making waves on the DJ circuit, making her Glastonbury debut last year whilst still finding time to run her multi platform music brand “Future Bounce” and most recently consulting for RCA/Sony’s A&R department.
Parris Oloughlin-Hoste, 23
Urban Promotions Manager at Sony Music UK, Parris looks after promotional campaigns for Yo Gotti, Future, Lady Leshurr, Shakka, A$AP Ferg and more, as well as running her own independent digital PR company, POW PR. Parris has hosted a weekend show on BANG Radio and has also written for many online platforms including SBTV, MTV, The Line of Best Fit, Clash and Nation of Billions. Parris is a forward thinker with a unique plethora of experience and understanding of artist development, press, radio and marketing.
Kaiya Milan, 22
A musician management executive and a founder of Women in Music UK, Kaiya Milan manages both individual instrumentalists and bands, including poet, artist and creative talent Kojey Radical. She’s worked with many brands and companies including Adidas, Apple, Beats, Live Nation, Festival Republic, Dr. Martins and also started her own collective called Women in Music UK with the aim to connect and empower women in the music industry. After a series of successful events in 2015, Kaiya held her latest event in February at the Apple Store in Covent Garden, with a panel that included 3 of our other 30 under 30 talents.
Kamilla Baiden, 24
Currently working at the BBC as a production coordinator on The One Show and a variety of TV shows, Kamilla is also a freelance writer about music for Nation of Billions, MTV: The Wrap Up as well as writing culture/identity features for BuzzFeed UK. Previously Kamilla has written for The Guardian, SB.TV and Complex UK, and is also passionate about radio, having worked as a Team Assistant at BBC Radio 1xtra and previously presenting a weekly show on Represent Radio. Now you hear her presenting and selecting tunes biweekly, on her own show on Monday evenings between 18:00-20:00 on Radar Radio.
Ashley Verse, 23
Photographer/Culture Documentarian from South London, Ashley started out in 2010 producing low budget music videos for a range of U.K artists early on in their careers including Top 10 unsigned hype Stormzy. Ashley found his way into photography when he landed an opportunity to go to London Fashion Week and began shooting catwalk shows for magazines such as Meade and Noctis and recently British GQ for whom he shot the London Collections: Mens for the past two seasons. Music photography is still high in his passion for photography and he documents many of the UK’s grime artists as well US artists at live shows, as well as for press shots and editorial shoots for multiple content platforms.
Julie Adenuga, 27
Widely known as the U.K anchor on Beats 1 presenting her daily show, Julie is also behind the new U.K youth program One True Calling set up with Sian Anderson to help young British people aged 16 – 24 to learn skills to prepare them for a career in the media. Julie Adenuga emerged in 2010 as a DJ on Rinse FM and in 2014 she created and hosted a music television show on Channel AKA and Daily Motion called Play It.
Ash Houghton, 24
Head of Online at SBTV, Ash is responsible for all of SBTV’s website-related output, including their recently launched partnership with the Press Association, SBTV News. Starting out as a voluntary blogger in 2011, Ash rose through the ranks at SBTV before becoming an intern, Staff Writer and, eventually, Editor-in-Chief. Re-aligning the balance between artist and industry, Ash has also freelanced for the likes of i-D Magazine and MOBO.com as a journalist, and also worked with a number of artists on an A&R, consultancy and PR basis.
Rashid Kasirye, 28
After seeing a music video being shot in Uganda, this sparked an idea for young 17 year old Rashid Kasirye leading to the early stages of him building his media career and business. From this initial spark Rashid has built his online broadcast channel and business, Link Up TV, to be a creative & youth inspired online talent and entertainment outlet. The online broadcast channel specialises in unsigned and emerging talent as well as creating a thriving business for the self made entrepreneur. Though Rashid would never admit to his own success, the stats speak for themselves and over 3 years Rashid has not only built a self-sustaining business, but also carved an impressive imprint into the music industry for underground artists to showcase their talents as well as building a respected reputation for himself within the industry.
Caroline SM, 21
In a brand new role as an A&R at the independent record label, XL Records, Caroline SM comes into the new generation of Britain’s young media creatives and entertainment led entrepreneurs. Caroline is also the Editor of British urban media platform GRM Daily, where she’s worked on groundbreaking projects such as the 2015 Rated Awards. Caroline also co-founded the ‘New Gen’ brand in 2015, and hosts #NewGenLive events and a weekly #NewGenRadio show on Radar Radio, working to build, nurture and give recognition to the sound of new London. With a few major label signings under her belt, she continues to spend her time developing talented upcoming musicians.
Jamal Edwards, 25
SBTV Founder, filmmaker and young entrepreneur CEO Jamal Edwards, MBE, established the online music platform in 2006, after he was given a camera as a present by his parents and started filming and uploading videos to YouTube of his friends rapping on the estate he grew up in Acton, West London. Jamal wanted to give a voice to Grime and Rap artists, who he felt were poorly represented by traditional channels at the time. SBTV’s big break came through a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, which broke him as an artist and also increased awareness of SBTV and Jamal.
Morgan Keyz, 28
Starting a career creating video content for Trapstar clothing in 2008, Morgan was an integral part of helping Jamal Edwards build SBTV from the ground up. Having directed music videos for everyone from Giggs & Fekky to Wretch and Dappy, Morgan started managing artists Donae’o and WSTRN, securing them a publishing and record dead, and subsequently scoring a Top 5 hit with their debut song ‘In2’. Morgan has recently started as an A&R at Epic UK/Sony Music UK.
Mercedes Benson, 23
A Social Media Manager by day at Google UK, and a fierce entrepreneur by night, Mercedes Benson has managed to launch her own self titled style blog ‘mercedesfbenson’, curate for Amsterdam based music platform 22tracks. Mercedes is also a self taught DJ, as well as founder of the unique music platform ‘FutureSNDS’, which celebrates new talent within the UK. Starting out as a PR intern for Puma and then moving over to Adidas, Mercedes has cemented her role as an influencer and mastered the art of juggling the fast paced realms of social media, curating cult, mind blowing music events, as a true new renaissance girl.
Nikita Chauhan, 26
Creator of award winning radio show ‘The Soul Diaries’. Currently presenting on stations in London including ‘Roundhouse’ and more recently ‘Traklife’ in America, Nikita also produces on radio including IXtra. With previous work including Elite Daily music reporter and the Resident Advisor weekly RA Exchange producer. Regularly DJing, Nikita is about to launch a monthly night ‘oN+oN’ and curating the line-up for her stage at Peckham Rye Music Festival later this year. You can usually find Nikita with her head in a comic or searching Soundcloud for that new sound.
Ra’ed Khan, 28
Deputy Editor of MTV Wrap Up, Founder of Pardon my Blog, Digital Manager at Quietus and Director of The Road to Freedom project, Ra’ed Khan is an industry savvy executive at only 27. Directing and founding the Road to Freedom project, Ra’ed personally travels to areas where refugee’s are suffering in the worst of conditions and gives them aid. Ra’ed is a greatly respected journalist heading up both MTV Wrap Up and as part of the Vice Network, Pardon My Blog. Last year Ra’ed launched Grime Aid, a charity concert hosted by Julie Adenuga which saw the likes of Chip, WSTRN, Youngs Teflon and more perform to raise over £2500+ for refugees fleeing war
Jackie Eyewe, 22
Starting her career as a features writer for Live Magazine, Jackie worked her way up to deputy editor and then expanded her portfolio writing for The Guardian, The BBC & Grazia Daily. Jackie moved onto music marketing and PR working with a string of international artists and brands such as Kiss FM, 4Music, Grazia Daily and Q Magazine. Creating music and brand partnerships with clients including O2 on their youth focused project GoThinkBig, music ticketing initiative O2 Priority as well as Sony Music. Jackie joined Atlantic Records as a Junior marketing manager in 2015 working with a roster of artists including UK R&B collective WSTRN with their Gold selling single ‘In2’ and Fetty Wap. Jackie has also worked as a producer for a radio show NANG selection for over 2 years hosted by Ralph Hardy on Radar Radio.
Shakira Kalite, 25
Shakira is a manager and creative director working with Kali Uchis and George Maple in respect of everything creative from music to artwork. Shakira previously worked at Rinse Fm, curating playlists, on A&R and radio shows, and where she worked on projects with King Krule, Katy B, Soulection, Lily Mercer. Shakira now works independently, and with the utmost integrity, is fast gaining a reputation as a serious spotter of talent. Shakira is a style barometer and sounding board for many creative upstarts, not just in her native South London but also LA.
Jason Edwards, 27
Starting at Sony Music in March 2015, Jason Edwards works in Syco Music as a Digital Channel Manager across full scale digital marketing campaigns for global acts including, One Direction, Fleur East, Fifth Harmony and Labrinth. Creating and constructing artist’s voices online to reach millions of fans from lots of different core fanbases on a daily basis, Jason is a critical member of a 3 man digital team. Together they played a crucial part in delivering both a number one single and album in One Direction’s chart topping Made in The AM Album campaign.
Leila Singh, 26
Starting out co-managing Crazy Cousinz at 17, and going on to manage an independent record label distributed through Pias, Leila started brand coordinating ILUVLIVE in 2010 curating line ups with the hottest acts on the up including Ed Sheeran, Krept & Konan, Yasmin, Wretch 32 and more. Later setting up her own PR company, Leila worked campaigns for various independent UK Rappers/Grime MCs as well as brand and event campaigns with RWD Mag, JD, adidas and more. In 2012, Leila started doing PR for Eskimo Dance, eventually becoming the marketing manager for the whole brand.
Kilo Jalloh, 24 & Moe Jalloh, 21
Kilo finished University last year, whilst his younger brother Mo is still at University. Together they manage J Hus and J5, an artist and producer who are defining the UK experience with their cool undeniable combination Afrobeat and Dancehall inspired UK rap.
Kenneth Asomani, 24
After dropping out of uni in his second year, Kenneth got a two week internship at Adidas UK 2 years ago and after Paola (EIM Director) liked what she saw, he got a shot to stay. Grafting from the bottom as an intern, he’s risen to the point where he’s the specialist within the team handling talent across Entertainment and Influencer Marketing. Working with talents like Stormzy, Kayode (R.S), Neelam Gill etc, Kenneth curates activations, content and events such as adidas Future House, NME: Future House NMD Takeover, Nigo X Stormzy and supplies partners with talent for activations e.g JD Sports, Footlocker and NME. Launching in April, Kenneth is rolling out KennethBrav.com which will include music related content and articles.
Gilbert Johnson, 26
Cutting his teeth as an intern assisting on acts as diverse as Jamie T, Keith Richards, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Gilbert is now a product manager at Virgin EMI with his own roster, he put together the campaign for Mercury Music prize winner Benjamin Clementine and is currently in the process off launching the UK campaign for G.O.O.D. Music/Dej Jam’s latest signing Desiigner.
Founder of Places + Faces, Ims details how one of the hottest brands in youth sub-culture came about, “Places+Faces is Just Soulz & I documenting our lifestyle and the culture around it through our eyes. We’ve always been a fan of music so that’s why we mostly take pictures of musicians however now we just take pictures of everything from peoples shoes to people throwing up. If we see something we like we capture it. Soulz has always been a photographer and I only started taking pictures around the same time we started P+F, however before that I was into making short videos and stuff since I always had a camera. From the beginning to now we have shot with a lot of artists from Travis, Scott to the A$AP MOB, Kanye West, King krule, Frank Ocean and more. Right now we’re working on a Zine, which should be dropping this month entitled L.I.T.Founder of Places and Faces, a leading lifestyle brand that captures cutting edge artists.”