Lifestyle Specialist, Kenny Burns, sits down exclusively with DJ Clark Kent for this exclusive two-part Studio 43 Portrait featuring the legendary DJ, record producer and music executive. Recognized for his role in helping to break Jay Z into the music business, Kent opens the interview discussing his early days with Rocafella Records and the inception of his relationship with Jay Z and Dame Dash. Burns asks, “How was that… How was having a good friend in Damon Dash and Jay Z, seeing them be entrepreneurs… that wanted create a dynasty in real life?” Kent responds. “I just look at it like it was supposed to happen… I believed he [Jay Z] was the best rapper. I believed Damon had enough energy to manage this best rapper.” And from there, he would go on to help cultivate the career of not just Jay Z, but a number of other artists as well. Clark scored his first street hit with the Junior M.A.F.I.A. classic “Player’s Anthem,” which featured The Notorious B.I.G. and was also the first record that Lil’ Kim appeared on. He also went on to produce “Loverboy” by Mariah Carey, which peaked at #2 in the US on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and three tracks on Jay Z’s critically acclaimed debut album, Reasonable Doubt, including the iconic record, “Brooklyn’s Finest,” which featured Notorious B.I.G.
Ultimately, Kent believes that “the culture of Hip-Hop doesn’t cultivate their culture” and has pledged his commitment to remembering the history of Hip-Hop and how it has paved the way for the artists of today. He discusses Drake and Kendrick Lamar as examples of rappers who have exploded into stardom during the Internet Age due to quality records and how, even with the plethora of avenues for artists to distribute their music and the information overload that lends to an arguably cluttered musical pool, “no matter how much buzz you build, no matter how many people are following you, if you don’t have the music, you have no business.” His dynamic career and its influential role in the rise of some of the greatest artists we have seen over the last three decades, is a tribute to his musical talent, dedication to craft and ear for great artists.
In part 2, Kent discusses how the cost of making music has gone down drastically. “The dynamic of making a record has changed so much that of course the business will change,” he states. Crediting Kanye and Drake for making good music in this new era of record producing, he stresses the importance of putting out good product and how good product can take you to the top of the ultra-competitive music industry. Burns then goes on to inquire about Kent’s sneaker obsession asking, “what started your fascination with sneakers?” Kent’s response – “It wasn’t about sneakers, it was about being fresh… A white tee is fresh with some jeans and a fresh pair of sneakers… I just wanted to be fresh.” Burns closes the interview with the question, “what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?” Kent responds, “love what you do or it will be a waste of your time.”