At its core hip hop is foundationally making something from nothing in an effort to express oneself. A declaration of youthful existence displaying a collective and individual voice. Having a flair was key but it wasn’t just talent; hunger and hustle in any discipline, were determinant to the fame and acclaim you’d garner in the hood, the borough, the city and hopefully the state. Music was not only added but soon became the impetus to move the formula forward in its infancy and that theorem was replicated hundreds of times with the practitioners (DJ’s, EMCEES and to a lesser degree DANCERS) not only getting the attention they sought, but they were also able to generate a modest financial benefit through performances and the sale of tapes. With music as the driving force the culture morphed into an industry that yields the attention initially on a global scale and become a financial juggernaut capable of securing generational wealth.
At this level lots get compromised and/or lost, one being the motivation; the WHY? Does the risk of individuality outweigh the reward of being the best replica of what’s popular? Deeper, does the VOICE still have worth? Affirmative proof that it does was found again in the birthplace of hip hop: the Boogie Down Bronx. Taking the formula that laid dormant, and adding modern technology to the mix, J.R. Jackson has created a space where he can have a say and connect with like-minded individuals. Under the banner JRSPORTSBRIEF, he’s managed to trust himself into an industry where, to be quite frank, African Americans are to be seen and not heard. Opportunities other than the playing field were thought to be nonexistent. Sad truth, but the truth, nonetheless. Like millions of urban kids JR had a zeal for sports and a yearning to contribute. He states, “I developed my love and passion for sports just by growing up. I couldn’t go to a room in my house without Don Mattingly, Lawrence Taylor, Patrick Ewing, Mike Tyson or even Pete Sampras being on. As I got older, I appreciated the physical fitness, mental preparation, and active strategy that goes into sports.”
Preparation and strategy that occurs in games, help put JR in the game. His work in marketing and production with other artists, particularly his uncle Fatman Scoop, was instrumental in his journey as it led to a chance meeting with a gentleman by the name of Charlie Stettler. Stettler’s recollection goes, “11 years ago Apple had a top 5 podcast called ‘Man and Wife.’ I asked my coproducing partner who was the person responsible for delivering such a big audience and he pointed to a young guy sitting next to a water cooler. I walked over to his desk; I saw him tapping away furiously on his laptop all while watching several different sports videos simultaneously. I introduced myself, congratulated him on the podcast success and made the mistake of asking him how he could watch sporting events and work his ‘Man and Wife’ marketing magic at the same? ‘It’s called multi-tasking sir,’ was his answer. Over the next several months I watched him build out that podcast so successfully that I was able to negotiate a TV deal with MTV for the show.” Yet another organic hip hop thread as Charlie Stettler along with partner Lynda West, Tin Pan Apple, had a hand in shaping the landscape of the culture as they managed and developed the careers of the rap legends The Fat Boys and broadcast pioneers Ed Lover & Doctor Dré (“YO! MTV RAPS” and HOT 97 Radio.) Stettler continue, my partner Lynda West and I fell in love with his work ethic (first one in office, last one out), his encyclopedic knowledge about most subjects but especially sports and his incredible drive. No one Lynda and I ever worked with has accomplished so much in such a short time (over 80 million views on YouTube, CBS Sports Radio JR SportBrief Show airs nightly on over 300 affiliates nationwide, NYC WFAN Saturday afternoons, NBA TV, Atlanta’s V-103, KTLA Weekend Sports Host.) When asked to assess the past, present and future prospects of JR, Lynda West chimed, “JR describes the dynamics within sports as a microcosm of all human activity. And he helps us to understand those forces with clarity as well as humor. He is not just a talking head. He is not just clever. His multi-faceted mastery of material, performance, entertainment, as well as the technical nature of production, will make his future in the world of sports information a force to be reckoned with.”
With a strong team aligned under JR SportBrief Productions LLC, the man can concentrate on executing his game plan while adhering to an unspoken hip hop golden rule: “Be Yourself, Don’t Play Yourself.”
“Since I started JRSportBrief in my childhood bedroom in 2009 I just tried to be authentic. There’s no caricature that erupts when the camera or mic goes on. I try to share my thoughts and opinions in a way that anyone, regardless of background can consume, agree or disagree with, but ultimately respect,” says JR. This is of import not just for himself, but for what potentially is at stake. “There’s been a generational formula in sports coverage in the United States, that Black athletes play the sports (70% for basketball/football) and that white male broadcasters cover them for the most part. There are certainly famous Black male sportscasters, but like in many areas of business, they are the exception. The sports industry lacks diversity in producers, engineers, camera opps, executives. Look around the room at every level. If it’s homogenous, something’s wrong.” He concludes, “I have a production company, that looks forward to enhancing the voices of professional athletes, journalists, and fans who don’t get an opportunity to tell their story because the establishment is too old, traditional, or scared to open their eyes and move with the times. The world is open source and digital. Anyone in the sports industry who doesn’t understand this and takes action quickly, will be out of business.”
Moral of the story, to see how hip hop permeates popular culture don’t look at music charts, the trends or other measurables. Look at voids. We see where we don’t have a presence and we WILL get there to fill it and strengthen it. Over and out. Holla next week, til then, enjoy the nightlife.