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Connecting The Dots with James Supreme

Updated: Sep 6

This past Thursday, Level Up Atlanta hosted the May edition of Connecting the Dots, a conversation series designed to push education within the creative community of Atlanta. This edition featured, Manager of A&R at Universal Music Publishing Group and Manager for Grammy-nominated record producer Bizness Boi, James Supreme.

The conversation, moderated by Trevon Williams (executive director of Von Allen), touched on how James became Manager of A&R at Universal Music Publishing Group, working with G Eazy and the Revels Group, meeting 6lack and much more. Supreme left Atlanta for Los Angeles in December of 2015 and had much to share being back in his city he calls home.

"There is always a story the viewers never see."

Hosted in a growing art space just past downtown Atlanta, Connecting The Dots has evolved into a refreshing event filled with insight and positivity. The night started as a social mixer with sounds were provided by DJ John J. Completed with an open bar featuring two signature drinks “Supreme Splash” and “Badn3wzz” named after the featured guest and moderator.

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

After some mixing and mingling, the conversation began with introductions, and Supreme took us down memory lane with Williams as they began recounting James’ move from New York to Atlanta and how he landed at Georgia State University where the two met.

James Supreme details his first experience in the industry and his relentless efforts to get in OVO Fest, where he met Jamil Davis, who turned out to be his future mentor.

"Understand that you don't need to follow everyone else's path."

James details his decision to move to Los Angeles came with struggles: such as sleeping on couches, losing friends, and making a name for yourself in a new city.

James assured the audience that behind every social media picture there are hours of work and sacrifice to capture that moment. “There is always a story [viewers] don’t see,” he said.

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

The two painted a picture of what hard work, determination, and resilience can do in a short matter of time. As a 24-year-old A&R for a major music publishing company, James was able to tell the story through a unique lens, touching on social misconceptions, the power of networking, and mental health.

James’ insights helped those in attendance understand that connecting the dots goes far beyond attending events and posting on Instagram. It takes a relentless tenacity to chase your dreams despite the obstacles and setbacks you may encounter.

Read below to check out some of the top moments from the conversation with James Supreme and Trevon Williams:

How did you end up working with Jamil Davis/Revel’s Group?

James: So I actually sent him and his assistant a cold email. I just googled him and found he was Drake’s tour manager. I get this straightforward email back saying “don’t email me and my assistant.” At this point, I already convinced a group of my friends that we were going to go to OVO.

After that moment I was like I just have to figure this out. So when I got there I decided to show up in a suit (this is before I knew how the music industry worked) and I told security I was there for a meeting. That security called for Drake’s security to figure it all out. Next thing you know I’m being escorted backstage and ended up in Jamil’s office. He stopped everything he was doing and said “yo get this guy out of here.”

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

I stood there for like fifteen seconds and in walks Tyler, who I had been coordinating with on email and he was like “James…” and I’m like “Tyler…” and he was like “yeahhh… why don’t you come over here and take that suit jacket off.”

And we sat and had a conversation and that changed everything for me that eventually lead me to work with The Revels Group assisting with G-Eazy when he came to Atlanta to record his album When It’s Dark Out.

After working with G-Eazy, who else have you worked with?

James: Working with G allowed me to open doors to work with some of my friends who are now starting to move in music, such as Madeintyo who had just dropped a song (Uber Everywhere).

Lil Dicky’s manager reached out to me and was like “I see you have experience with white rappers, you wanna work with us?” So I took that opportunity to set myself up. I continued to do stuff with Tyo, and being on the road constantly was good for me to meet different people and build unique relationships with people.

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

Through that, I realized I’m good at connecting the dots, introducing people, pitching ideas, so maybe I should look at getting off the road and focusing on that because I wasn’t able to be as creative as I would have liked. I got burnt out.

I currently manage a producer by the name of Bizness Boi. He’s from Milwaukee and he’s done some work with 6lack, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Sway Lee, Elton John, and more. I met Biz through an artist I have a relationship with by the name of Ye Ali.

Tell me about how you got involved with UMPG

James: Yeah, so I’m an A&R as well for Universal Music Publishing Group. Those conversations came about through Bizness Boi, who is currently unsigned. A lot of times, when you are being successful as a young person, people will notice and try to take from you and run off with the sauce.

Times got really tough, but it was in those moments that I learned what was important to my client and me. So when I’m having these meetings, I’m not going in there expecting them to show us the world, but I’m thinking what do you guys have to offer because we know exactly what we want and we have a plan.

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

When you have a plan, vision, and focus, no one can steer you wrong. A lot of it came from articles, books, and understanding other people’s struggles. I learned from an article when you go in knowing what you want, it’s easier for you to know what to do. I believe that was recognized by the label and we mutually felt good about me coming into the fold of things.

Photo by Ellias Zumudio

What are some things our generation of entrepreneurs needs to improve on?

James: I would say the whole instant gratification thing. Just because you put a picture on Instagram, you want 100 likes. Your first mixtape, you want a certain amount of spins. The first job interview and you want the job. I think we are so used to this overnight success story from people coming out of nowhere and we see that at face value.

We constantly compare ourselves and we keep thinking that we need to follow everybody else’s path without understanding that you are already where you are supposed to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing. So whenever things are supposed to happen for you, they will click when the time is right, it’s just important to be prepared when the time comes.

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