I came to Boston to raise money for NFTE and see our top teachers. Outside the train station, a young man caught my attention:
"Would you buy my album?" he asked. I replied "Of course." I pulled out $10 and the next thing I knew I was the proud owner of a CD called In Love With You.
His sales manner was so confident and he had three people in his employ, so I was intrigued. Here was a young entrepreneurial artist who created four jobs. The CD cover was well-designed and honest. Three hours later, after my meetings, I walked back to the train station, past Copley Plaza. There he was again. He recognized me and said hello. After thanking me for purchasing his product, he handed me his card. "I have other products," he said, "and if you send me an email, I will send them to you."
I immediately became fascinated by him: I realized that this was a story that I wanted to tell. I cancelled my train. I called my friends to let them know that I was going to be late. I spent the next couple of hours with Nazz.
He was raised in the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston. His role models were the producers of New Edition and New Kids on the Block. He wrote many times to Murray Starr, who was the manager of New Edition and who was very kind to him over Facebook with advice and encouragement. He loves Boston, and wants to be the hip hop artist that makes it out of Boston. He was been working for that for ten years.
He has a street license so he is totally legal. He pays all of his taxes. He has an LLC that he owns in full. He has three full time salespeople and another full time artist working on another album. He has essentially created five jobs.
He has good days and bad days. Sometimes people buy multiple copies of his CD to give as gifts. His music is beautiful and appeals to the romantic side of all of us. It's about being in love, and temptation.
I interrupted him to tell him about my friendship with Mele Mel, who was murdered. Hip hop has never failed to break my heart.
About five years ago, he moved to California to learn from the big boys about music production but he didn't understand intellectual property laws. He came back determined to get better, studying intellectual property, hiring a corporate lawyer, and making his business 100 percent legal. He sells six days every week; and develops his music a day and a half per week. He is essentially a labor production and marketing firm. He wants to be a good artist, with integrity. He wants to help other people while supporting himself. That is the essence of the entrepreneur and what I hope programs like NFTE can help to inspire in low income youth today. I smiled at him and nodded before running to the train. I barely made it in as the door closed.