After finding success as a founder in the finance space and with the launch of The St. James Group, a developer of sports, performance, and entertainment destinations, Kendrick Ashton is embarking on his first foray into the media world with the launch of Breakbeat.
The new podcast network, which premiered its first show on Tuesday, is dedicated to the hip-hop community and aims to bring a “more robust offering” to the podcasting space.
At the forefront of Breakbeat’s mission is to create a platform where the commonalities of the multiple generations that have grown up on hip-hop can be spotlighted, celebrated, and amplified. To that end, the network is being intentional about bringing together both veteran and fresh voices.
Breakbeat made its debut with Don’t Call Me White Girl, hosted by the Philadelphia-based viral comedian who goes by the same name. Next week, the network will bring on media maven Kierna Mayo, the founder of Honey Magazine, who has since written for and helmed some of the biggest names in Black media.
Her bi-weekly podcast, Culturati: Conversations with Kierna Mayo, is described as “a colorful sonic world where Black women from Gen X to Gen Z— ‘bougie and ratchet’ notwithstanding—are the official standard-bearers.” The show will cover topics from politics to interpersonal relationships, with a variety of thought leaders joining the conversation.
“Hip-hop as a community has a certain perspective on the world; it’s a community that has a set of shared values,” Ashton tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“We think those perspectives, values, and interests cut across every facet of human life. We’re thinking broadly about the kinds of topic and content we’ll focus on.”
Before bringing Breakbeat to life, Ashton made quite a name for himself in finance, first at Goldman Sachs, then as a founding member and managing partner of Perella Weinberg Partners, a hedge fund and investment bank. An avid consumer of content and media in his personal life, he says his work at The St. James Group really was the first step toward his latest venture.
“Through my work at The St. James, I’ve been focused on content and experiences and positioning brands for fast consumer adoption,” he explains. “I had been looking at a number of opportunities to help build something in the digital media space. So when I got the opportunity to partner around what I believe to be a much-needed solution, I got really excited.”
Powering Together to Start a Podcast Business
That opportunity started to form four years ago when Ashton met fellow D.C. native Dave Mays, creator of The Source magazine. The two began comparing notes and ideating around what building a digital platform together would look like.
“Dave has had a really remarkable capacity to see a compelling set of opportunities, bring together first-rate veteran and emerging talent and then building the kinds of stories and content that the hip-hop community loves,” he says. “And also forging partnerships with the types of players that can really help an organization leapfrog. So I think there’s a really extraordinary opportunity ahead of us because of that.”
In addition to bringing fresh perspectives to the table, Breakbeat also hopes to help the hip-hop community find a more competitive footing in the podcasting space by expanding the type of audio content that comes from the community. The company is also working on adding a technological component to the network to eliminate the need to rely on traditional podcasting platforms to deliver its content.
“We obviously want to be impactful,” adds Ashton. “We want the content to be informative, we also wan to provide some leadership, and we want to also, at the same time, be entertaining. I think it’s a particularly fertile time to be launching a digital platform. I think the podcast space is in desperate need of a more robust offering of content. I’m excited about what’s possible.”