is one of the few African American talent agents in the entertainment industry. He has represented Eddie Murphy, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, India.Arie, and DMX. He has also packaged major concert tours for clients including Cash Money, whose artists include rappers B.G. and Juvenile; Ruff Ryders, which includes chart busters Eve, The Lox, and Jadakiss; Nelly; and Usher. In the future, Cheatham hopes to create a division at ICM that will focus on urban-based film and television projects.
Career Track: Cheatham worked as a stockbroker for Merill Lynch in the early ’80s. But after the showbiz bug bit, he left the Street to become a deal maker in the entertainment industry.
Big Break: Cheatham started out in the business like a number of industry powerhouses, including Creative Artists Agency (CAA) former head Michael Ovitz, Disney chief Michael Eisner, and Studios USA honcho Barry Diller — in the mailroom. Cheatham rose from delivering correspondence to his current position at ICM.
SEAN “P. DIDDY” COMBS
Title: Chairman and CEO, Bad Boy Entertainment
Education: Howard University
Why He’s Powerful: He is the visionary who created and oversees a $300 million entertainment empire that includes Bad Boy Records; Combs Music Publishing, a copublishing venture with EMI Music Publishing that manages more than 500 copyrights; and Janice Combs Management, which manages music producers. When the joint venture between Bad Boy and BMG’s Arista Records was terminated in June, Combs retained complete control of his platinum artist roster, which includes Faith Evans, and of course, P. Diddy himself. He also controls an apparel company (Sean John clothing), restaurants (Justin’s in New York City and Atlanta), and a state-of-the-art recording studio (Daddy’s House Studios).
Career Track: Combs launched Bad Boy in 1993 with two artists: Craig Mack and the late Notorious B.I.G. Through the joint venture with Arista, Combs built up his artist roster and his reputation.
Big Break: He started out as an intern for Uptown Records. At 19 he became director of A&R, credited with shaping the career of Mary J. Blige. Combs’ mentor, former Uptown and Motown CEO Andre Harrell, would eventually work for him as president of Bad Boy.
DAMON DASH & SHAWN “JAY-Z” CARTER
Title: Partners,Roc-A-Fella Enterprises
Age: 31 (Dash)
Why They’re Powerful: Entrepreneur Dash and rapper Carter are the masterminds behind Roc-A-Fella Center, a cluster of companies driven by their $100 million record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, a 50/50 joint venture with Universal’s Def Jam. In addition to producing 10 gold and platinum records for artists such as DJ Clue, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and of course, Jay-Z, the company’s film division, Roc-A-Fella Films, has boosted revenues with Backstage, a concert documentary on the Hard Knock Life tour, and the movie State Property. Dash and Carter have also created a successful apparel line, Rocawear, to the tune of $150 million in gross sales.
Career Track: Carter struggled for years to break into the business. But everything changed in 1995 when he and childhood friends, Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, decided to start a record label. The trio pressed their own records and sold them