Dedicated to My First Love: Hip-Hop

“…Told her if she got an image and a gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it …
Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the ’burbs lookin’ rock and dressin’ hip
…who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop”

– Common

Loving hip hop, in the past, meant following the newest trends, as well as to perform acapella renditions of classic hip hop songs with my friends. It meant observing and sometimes following urban fashion trends. It meant religiously listening to Hot 97 to be up on the newest songs, and avidly watching Free and AJ host BET’s 106th and Park to learn the latest dances. It meant disobeying my mother’s wishes to switch to a musical genre that didn’t frequently use offensive language. I loved hip-hop so much I fantasized of acquiring an internship and eventually landing a job at a major record label such as Def Jam or Atlantic Records. The internship I got instead exceeded any daydream I had, let alone any expectations I had for the internship. So like Common, I took loving hip-hop to the next level the summer of ’08; I committed to her.

My desire to be closer to hip-hop led me to Acme Content Co, a branding company. The opportunity wasn’t necessarily what I had in mind, but I was willing to give it a shot. I was told that corporate giant P&G, was looking to successfully market their body spray, TAG, by differentiating the product from the competing body spray. P&G and its companies observed that there were no body sprays that targeted young, urban males. P&G and Acme agreed that the best way to successfully market to urban, young males was through hip-hop. In order to believably market to this demographic, they decided to team up with the living hip-hop legend, and coincidentally, the president of Island Def Jam, Jermaine Dupri to start a record label from the ground up. These perceptive observations led to TAG Records’ birth, a little before I signed on to work for the internship. I started working just as they were deciding between two acts. They finally agreed on the lyricist Q da Kid. I must admit, I was fairly impressed with the decision to sign Q, because the other act would’ve been a much safer choice because of the whole N.E.R.D./ Lupe Fiasco/Kanye West vibe the group had going for it. But instead Q was chosen, despite his rawness. They saw potential in this dude from Brooklyn, who was also committed to hip-hop and decided to take a chance on him. I respected that. I also respected their decision to give him creative freedom with very reasonable limits. So learning this, I felt pretty confident that I would soon feel comfortable joining the team that would help to make both P&G’s and Q’s dream come true.

I courted hip-hop mainly through TAG’s Myspace page. I communicated with other music lovers, and fans of both TAG and Q. I also helped to build our network through Core Djs’ networking site. I officially became the intern/community manager. Every day I listened to our friends’ music and help to decide which artists would make “Spotlight.” I also made sure I was up to date with the ever-evolving music industry by reading blogs. I also loved the perks, such as free music, attending commercial shoots and other major events as well as meeting hip hop celebrities. Like all relationships, it wasn’t always easy, but if you love what you do, then all the work is worth it.

All in all, the summer internship at Acme was a very unexpected, but thoroughly, enjoyable one. Through the internship, I am still fervently committed to hip-hop and in this relationship for the long haul.

– Ernestine Belgrave, ACME Intern


ACME on NPR, TAG at Rucker Park and more!

We have tons of interesting updates covering what has been a whirlwind of activity over the last few weeks.

Some beautiful mark spots have been all over mtv for the last two weeks as part of an integration with The Hills.  We will post the videos up here as soon as we get our hands on them.  Check out the video player at and the Lauren Look Book located on   We will provide more insight into this program soon.

David and Adam Weber are featured in this NPR story on the merging of music and brand marketing.   I love how they used audio from YouTube videos as sound bytes.  Very clever and very effective.  They even threw in some classic Q music that they must have lifted from Myspace.    Listen to the story here.

TAG @ Rucker Park

TAG kicked off the Survival of the Freshest tour at Rucker Park on August 14th.   The true survivors stuck it out through the rain and the evening wrapped with a killer mc competition (see video below).   Jermaine Dupri, Q, Russell Simmons, DJ Envy, Michael Bivins and others all turned out for the event.  Congrats to both Sandman and Cash Flow for doing their thing in front of a tough Harlem crowd.

Keeping Up with the Moguls

Image Source: Corporate Takeover

There is a relatively new niche in the hip-hop blog world focused squarely on tracking the business moves of the hip-hop elite. Instead of covering new tracks or beefs among rappers, these blogs cover endorsement deals, business ventures, and hip-hop’s other forays into the corporate world. The emergence of this type of blog/site simply illustrates that while music is at the root of it all, the hip-hop lifestyle and culture transcends far more than the airwaves, myspace and youtube. Fans, aspiring entrepreneurs and executives are finding inspiration in more than just lyrics – tracking and even obsessing over the business moves of hip-hop moguls. And that should not come as a surprise… With Jay-Z, 50, Pharrell and JD all immersing themselves in highly lucrative and innovative corporate relationships, the stratospheric rise of the hip-hop mogul is often more interesting than most hip-hop music.

One of these sites in particular has clearly taken the lead in this new category: Corporate Takeover. As a long time reader, I was thrilled to be asked to offer up some thoughts on Jay-Z for what turned out to be an incredibly thorough, well-crafted piece that documents The Corporate Takeover of Jay-Z. Jason ‘Jay’ Mohawk and Corporate Takeover probably just ended up on Rupert Murdoch’s radar. Keep up the good work.

Living the Life, with Jermaine Dupri (David Caruso Cameo)

I love the current trend of artist talking to fans via YouTube – gritty, iMovie produced YouTube videos. Jermaine Dupri was certainly an early adopter of this new practice and has developed a steady fanbase of regular viewers. His YouTube channel certainly garners enough attention on its own, but throw in a Jay-Z or Mariah or Janet and of course the views grow exponentially. He has even used fans response via YouTube to help steer decisions around new artists, and as expected, to show off some gear.

As President of TAG Records, it is safe to assume we will see some TAG references throughout his Living the Life series. Here is JD at the recent photo shoot for TAG. Note the ACME cameo as well 🙂

Jermaine Dupri: Today, We Make History…

That’s what Jermaine Dupri said about the Tag Records label that was announced yesterday. It has been picked up in literally hundreds of publications and blogs, and here are a few links to what people are saying…

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And don’t forget about the hip-hop blog chatter:

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And of course, the Queen of All Media had to chime in:

Click to read.

Mr. International, Player with a Passport (aka International Coverage):

Click to read.

Check out more at