Kevin Liles: More Than Music

Former Def Jam music man talks about the importance of expanding his brand beyond the industry and giving back by paying it forward

D'Angelo performs at Brixton Academy on February 3, 2012 in London (Image: Getty)

Blackenterprise.com: Your roster of talent includes pretty well-established artists and new talent, including D’Angelo, who has not been on the scene for a while. What challenges do you believe he might face as a reemerging artist?

Kevin Liles: It’s about legacy. Here’s a guy, arguably one of he most talented, who hasn’t performed in 10 years. He calls me up and says, “Kev, I’m ready.” He’s a young man who has been through hell. Idolized by women and respected by man. He didn’t know how to handle it, so he retreated. I care about him as a person and will help him fight whatever demons he has so he can share his God-given gift with the world. We made a commitment and tested to see if we were ready by giving a few shows in Europe. They all sold out. I can’t discuss what we have planned just yet; but it’s going to blow your mind over the summer.

Blackenterprise.com: What is the best/worst money advice you’ve ever received?

Kevin Liles: The worst: “Don’t worry about your money, I got it.” The best? From my mom: That everything matters, so listen and learn.

What advice do you have when it comes to growing wealth and investing your money, especially for those who think they might not have enough to start growing wealth?

Kevin Liles: You can save a dollar a day, which is $7 dollars a week. Over the course of 10 years, imagine what you could have saved. You have to make saving as much of a ritual as eating food. Put a system in place that makes sense for you. I started investing when I was young and was able to retire my parents and help put my sisters through school.

Blackenterprise.com: What’s the one mistake you made during your career that you’d never repeat?

Kevin Liles: We have a responsibility to do more than just be successful, and with success comes responsibility. Early on, I wanted success so bad I would do anything for it. You couldn’t tell me no because I believed that’s how you achieve success. Now, I believe that sometimes “no” is the right answer, even if you don’t understand the reason at the time. If I could say there’s anything that I would have done differently, I would have thought through a lot of my today-actions for tomorrow-results.

Blackenterprise.com: What’s your secret to longevity and fulfilling legacy?

Kevin Liles: Relevancy. It’s our job to continuously reinvent ourselves. If I was still living off of that period of time when I worked at Def Jam, I’d never challenge myself. You should access yourself. God woke me up today so I have to invest in me in order to do better things. I don’t think He’s finished with me yet or that he’s utilized everything He’s given me. I have so much to give and share with the world. When I’m out hanging with these kids, they call me O.G or Kevin Liles the Legend. The funny thing is, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet. I’ve worked to be a great husband, father and orator for our culture; but if you call that legendary, wait for the second half of my life! The first 25 years of my life I made great music, the next 25 I’d like to spend making a difference.

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  • Rosa Samuels

    Will u plz help me promote my brand and how to market It is already in effect but i need to sign a contract with someone major maybe….Detroit Wives Club….books movies politics religion cars clothes….it is all mine……sports……..music…..i living Pac dream for me…..i have survived….thank YOU God God is Goood all the time……

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