Cortez Bryant and collaborator Matt Ferrigno on rap music’s commercial potential as hip-hop emerges as America’s top music genre
Cortez Bryant and Matt Ferrigno, interviewed by PR consultant & Hip-Hop expert Samira Kaelin, explain how they have connected artists such as Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, G-Eazy and others to global brands.
Maverick Partner, The Blueprint Group Co-CEO, and Young Money Entertainment COO. Cortez “Tez” Bryant became one of the entertainment industry’s pre-eminent managers through identifying and igniting the potential of game-changing outliers such as Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, G-Eazy, and more. An innate ability to spot that elusive “it” factor spearheads his success behind-the-scenes.
Such is the case with Tez’s longest client five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning multiplatinum icon Lil Wayne. The two grew up together as best friends in New Orleans. As Wayne’s star began to rise meteorically in 2004, Tez shuttled back and forth between shows on the weekend and classes at Jackson State University during the week. By the time of his college graduation, he formally stepped into the role of Wayne’s manager, unassumingly founding Bryant Management.
With 2004’s platinum-certified Tha Carter, Wayne commenced a legendary run that continues to this day. Classic albums Tha Carter II and Like Father, Like Son followed in between a storied series of mixtapes before he released his magnum opus, the triple-platinum Tha Carter III—which earned a staggering total of four GRAMMY® Awards and unanimous critical renown. On the eve of Tha Carter III era, Tez joined forces with a fellow manager and entrepreneur Gee Roberson, forging an alliance between his Bryant Management and Roberson’s Hip Hop Since 1978. Simultaneously, Wayne and Tez launched Young Money Entertainment in partnership with Cash Money Records as home to Drake, Nicki Minaj, and more.
As Young Money Entertainment took the industry by storm in 2009, Drake asked Cortez Bryant to manage him. He shepherded Drake’s evolution into one of the world’s biggest stars as both manager and label C.O.O., fueling the impact of multiplatinum albums including Thank Me Later, Take Care, and the GRAMMY® Award-winning Nothing Was The Same. Along the way, Nicki would also sign to The Blueprint Group as a management client under Tez and Roberson.
In 2013, Cortez Bryant orchestrated a strategic alliance with The Revels Group to co-manage G-Eazy. The Bay Area talent landed two consecutive Top 5 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 with the multiplatinum These Things Happen and When It’s Dark Out.
Throughout his career, Tez has initiated high-profile deals with leading brands, including Samsung, Mountain Dew, Beats By Dre, Apartments.com, and more. Moreover, the industry consistently recognizes him as an innovator with placements on the cover of Billboard Magazine and regular spots on the prestigious “Power 100,” in the “Urban Power Issue,” and in the “40 Under 40” feature. Moreover, Complex lauded him as one of the “25 Most Powerful People in Rap.”
Atlanta-based powerhouse, The Blueprint Group is a conglomerate of its world-renown management company in partnership with Maverick Management and record label imprint BPG Records.
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Here’s a selection of the most insightful quotes or anecdotes from his talk:
“With all our artists that we manage, me and my partners, we give them understanding that is more than just music. We try to make them “artists outside of music” and that’s building a brand at the same time. So we thought it was very important with all our artists that we capitalize on that space. We were blessed enough to get a lot of amazing top tier artists, and we have a small team so we made sure that we find great people to partner with and to help expand in that space. And Matt was that guy.”
“I have been in the game for 15 years and coming in, I didn’t know anything. I was just Lil Wayne’s best friend, graduated from college. He once told me “Yo Tez I want you to be my manager” and I was like “Oh sh*t, ok, we’ll have to figure it out”. But even with me knowing anything about the business, I knew it was important to build his brand from day one. Back then, it was a struggle going into these corporate doors and try to convince them with this guy with tattoos all over his face and with diamonds on this teeth. To talk to these guys in their suits, stereotyping us, was a challenge.”
“Experience lets us kind of dictate those deals and those terms in a certain way we have a competitive advantage, based off the deals that we were having with Lil Wayne and Kanye in the beginning, and us knowing what they have and what they were in the marketplace, as Drake was rising at the moment.”