part of its sale to Seagram, now known as Vivendi Universal). Groomed by two of rap music’s most powerful moguls, Russell Simmons, CEO of Rush Communications (No. 16 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with $192 million in gross sales) and founder of Def Jam records, and Lyor Cohen, Island/Def Jam Music Group chairman & CEO, Liles was considered an integral part of the label’s rebirth.
Big Break: The Baltimore native formed the rap group Numarx in 1989 and started his own label, Marx Brothers Records.
IRVING “IRV GOTTI” LORENZO
Title: CEO, Murder Inc. Records
Why He’s Powerful: Irv Gotti is slaying the competition with his hip-hop music label Murder Inc. The label, distributed by Island Def Jam music group, produced four simultaneous top 10 singles this spring. R&B newcomer Ashanti, who produced three of those hits, beat out pop icon Celine Dion with smash hit “Foolish.” Also on his roster: the platinum-plated rapper Ja Rule. Dubbed the new “Don of Rap,” the brash mogul has crossed over into pop by lending his edge to Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, who both scored hits
due to his services.
Career Track: Born in New York City, just 10 blocks from where Def Jam founder Russell Simmons grew up, Gotti got started in the music business at the age of 12 when he received DJ equipment as a gift from his siblings. After becoming one of the hottest DJs in his neighborhood, he recorded his first song with Mic Geronimo, a rapper he met at a talent show, and it got airplay on a local radio station. Eventually, Gotti landed a job in Def Jam’s A&R department and impressed the top brass with his ears and eyes for talent, signing multiplatinum stars such as DMX. His success led to his joint venture with Def Jam.
Big Break: Landing his first A&R job at TVT Records.
DEBRA MARTIN CHASE
Title: CEO, Martin Chase Productions
Education: B.A., Mount Holyoke College; J.D., Harvard Law School
Why She’s Powerful: Manages her own Disney-based company, Martin Chase Productions, which has produced such successful films as The Princess Diaries. In addition, Chase is the producing partner in BrownHouse Productions, singer Whitney Houston’s production company. Chase has a long-standing interest in politics and the arts. In the 1988 presidential campaign she served on the National and New York finance committees for Michael Dukakis. She was a founding member of the Contemporary Friends of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and was recently elected to the Board of Trustees for Columbia College of Chicago.
Career Track: Chase began in Hollywood when she joined the Motion Pictures Legal Department of Columbia Pictures in 1989, eventually becoming the Director of Creative Affairs. She also headed Mundy Lane Entertainment, Denzel Washington’s TriStar Pictures-based production company, and served as producer for such films as Courage Under Fire and The Preacher’s Wife.
Big Break: Chase began her career as an attorney working with several major law firms and Fortune 500 companies in Houston and Manhattan.
Title: President and CEO, Motown Records
Education: B.A., Central State University; J.D., University