Originally published on The Industry Cosign February 18, 2015
The title Legendary is SO overused and misappropriated these days and it’s a shame that everyone misuses the term so much. If I had a dollar for every writer, blogger, person to use that name in the wrong context, I could stage my own multi-million dollar lottery.
Well, I understand the word well and with this new section I am initiating on the site, no one who doesn’t deserve to have that adjective anywhere near their name will be covered.
Now, I don’t expect a lot of the younger people to know the name Anthony Marshall, but, if you are an aspiring lyricist and/or entrepreneur, then this article will introduce you to someone you should not only look up to, but, you should also thank him and his partner, Danny Castro, for being a part of the evolution of The Business of Hip-Hop. As you are about to learn, when I say Anthony Marshall is Legendary, I mean it in every sense of the word and you are about to see why………
You’ve had the fortune of being involved right on the cusp of Hip-Hop going commercial. Actually, you played an integral role in setting the genre up to become a multi-billion dollar industry with The Lyricist Lounge, the showcase you co-founded with Danny Castro. Looking back, I know this is a clichéd question, but, did you realize then, the impact The Lyricist Lounge would have in helping showcase acts like Eminem, Talib Kweli and The Notorious B.I.G. and helping them get globally recognized?
Honestly Ced, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I knew we had something special after we did the Bad Boy launch party hosted by Big and Puff in 93′. The industry came out for that one. That show confirmed our important position in the game and the culture. It was only a matter of time before one of the artists that touched our stage would go global.
At a time when Hip-Hop was still new, as far as a business, how would you compare the hunger of artists back then to the perceived hunger of Hip-Hop artists today?
I think the artists that grew up in the 90s and the artists of today have a similar hunger for being successful because although the times and the way we consume music has changed, paying bills is still the same lol. People just hustle different than back in the day. Back then, it was all about who you know and now because of social media its all about who knows you, but it stills boils down to branding and good music.
For the people who may not know who Anthony Marshall is, how did you get involved in The Business of Hip-Hop?
I waited for security to throw someone out and snuck in the back door lol. I started going to clubs when I was 14. This was at a time when bouncers weren’t really tripping about age. Most clubs were actually 18 to party and 21 to drink, so I got some fake ID near good ole’ 42nd st and acted like I was 18, shit it worked. From there, I started hanging out with a friend from Julia Richman High School who was a part of a dance crew called Zhigge. We used to frequent clubs like Mars, Red Zone etc. Then, I started rolling with the Lo Lifes. Then after getting jumped by some haters at a club named Roseland, I met the homie, Danny Castro. His friend’s father became our mentor. His dream was to get High School kids into the music business early, it worked and I am forever grateful. Lord knows where I could have ended up.
You, in a partnership with Rawkus Records, released an independent label to showcase the very same artists you featured on The Lyricist Lounge, right around the time when indies held a lot of weight before the major labels started snatching acts up. With the way social media and the internet functions these days, do you think you would have been as successful with the same tools and the audience Hip-Hop has today?
That’s a good question man. We definitely live in a different time. I know it would have been easier to just press a button and email 20k people instead of handing out 20k flyers, that’s for sure. But I feel like people paid more attention back then. You could give someone a flyer and they would stop, turn around and ask you more info. Those convos have lead to 20+ year old friendships. I can’t really say that now.
How were you able to leverage your success with The Lyricist Lounge (Records, showcases, MTV show, tours, etc.) to sustain your legendary career? What did the success of The Lyricist Lounge lead you to as far as business?
I didn’t leverage my success, I used my knowledge of the culture and my relationships to just power forward. My success was just gravy. I mean you can have all the success in the world, but once your shit dies down, if you can’t write a proposal or speak to people without saying “nahmean” you’re pretty fucked. Some people get their past accomplishments twisted with their ability to do great things in the present. The other thing is corporate America couldn’t really give a fuck about your Hip Hop success. A lot of people in these buildings still hate on the culture and the people within it.
What is Anthony Marshall doing currently?
Now that I have 2 yr old twin boys and a 4 month old boy- Ant Marshall is currently on daddy duty changing diapers, writing proposals, DJing, mentoring, and dreaming up the future 😉
What advice would you give to someone in terms of longevity in this industry and how to stay relevant?
My advice when it comes to longevity is stick to projects you LOVE, choose wisely and work smart, not hard. It’s a marathon not a sprint. As for being relevant FUCK BEING RELEVANT, just do cool shit and be a good person. I think that’s way more important. Plus relevance is relative. I’m 41 years old, so what I like may not necessarily appeal to someone who’s 21, but that doesn’t mean I now have to base my business on their perspective. That’s why you have old old old ass DJs stuck in positions playing music for kids all the while knowing that the music is wack and killing the culture, but yall don’t hear me though…
In such a long (20 plus years) career, mistakes are bound to be made. What mistake or mistakes have you made that, if given the chance to do over, you would correct and do differently, if anything?
Man, there’s a long list that I’d rather not get into now, but I will say that I won’t be making those mistakes/missteps in the future…word is bond.
Of course, you’re an entrepreneur, but what would you label yourself if you had to have a title that defines what you’ve done and what you are doing and for what you plan on doing in the future?
Wow, great question. I have come to realize after starting Lyricist Lounge (which catered to MCs), helping to launch Al Gore’s Current TV (for filmmakers) and Executive Producing Master of the Mix (for DJs) that I am a Platform Facilitator, a Culture Curator and an Overall Connector.
What quality/qualities do you possess that has given you the chance to not only last 20 plus years in this fickle industry, but is the primary reason for your success?
I’m just a good dude bro, I LOVE helping my people, all people and especially myself. I was raised by a Rastafarian woman that gave me the freedom to grow up to be whoever it is I wanted to be. No pressure, no push. I was raised as a vegan from 8 – 30 yrs old. I’m a spiritually minded and have a serious connection to my center. I honor my elders and ancestors. I accept people for who they are and I remind myself that I am a student in a teacher’s body.
Any last thoughts?
Last thing I’ll add is that you were the first person to ever chat me in a chat room. Funny shit is you were sitting right behind me and I didn’t even know it. You had me all hyped up like “Yo who is this mu’fucker”. You’re a funny dude Ced and a real legit part of my social media history and for that I will always support you.
Brooklyn keeps on taking it 🙂