Executive, author and entrepreneur Steve Stoute has been a major player in the music world since the 90s. As an instrumental figure in the early careers of Nas, Mary J. Blige, Will Smith and others, the founder/CEO of ad agency Translation continues to forge new paths outside the music industry but never forgetting his Hip-Hop roots. Since 2008, the Tanning Effect author has been partners with rapper and business mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter after expanding his agency into Translation Advertising.
The Queens native sat down with Media Bistro TV’s “Media Beat” program and revealed how he got started, explained the similarities of Hip-Hop and advertising, and how working with longtime friend Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets project is more than just another feather in his crowded cap.
“I started in the record business the same way everybody else starts – in the shower,” explained Stoute jokingly regarding his beginnings. “You start singing, or rapping or dancing, and that’s how you get in the record business. And if you believe in that, and if you keep pursuing that, you chase it down to a place when you get an opportunity.”
Although Stoute dresses very much like the CEO he is, his approach to business is still deeply couched in the aesthetic of Hip-Hop. “I think advertising is the Hip-Hop business,” said Stoute. “Advertising has done a lot to underwrite many industries.” Stoute then uses an analogy that advertisers helps fuel television shows and keep them afloat in symbiotic fashion. That same foresight eventually led to Stoute creating Translation in 2004 as a necessary bridge connecting Fortune 500 companies to audiences they normally wouldn’t reach.
The business connection with Jay-Z appears to be the perfect link with Stoute’s vision, considering Hov’s savvy moves as an executive himself. As a minor owner of the NBA team Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z has a front seat in a world not afforded to rappers, much less many star athletes. Stoute’s mission is to make sure that Jay’s involvement is more than just cosmetic, lending his advertising expertise to aid in the development of the operations behind the hoops squad.
“How many times in your lifetime are you gonna get a chance to work on a sports team moving into a city from the ground up,” asked Stoute rhetorically. “From the logo, to every single aspect of it, I take it very seriously and run it by Jay-Z…to make sure it’s perfect.”
Check out the full Steve Stoute “Media Beat interview below. Also, watch parts one and two of the this three part interview series where Stoute discusses working with Budweiser and Mary J. Blige’s ill advised Burger King commercial, respectively, on the next page.
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