By Rahul Lal
Business mogul Troy Carter, Global Head of Creator Services at Spotify, recently stopped by the Rap Radar Podcast to discuss his career with co-hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller.”
“I came up with Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince,” he mentioned. “Those guys, they took me under their wing at an early age. I had this little rap group and we were called 2 Too Many… We used to hang out in front of Jazzy Jeff’s record studio everyday. They were on at this point, in Philly, they were really on and Will had just gotten Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I was lucky enough to be there during those stages and really learn the business from James Lassiter, who was Will’s manager.”
Carter eventually got a job as Lassiter’s assistant. As he explained, he came in with no professional experience and didn’t even think to cut or wash his hair. Getting accustomed to working in this environment, he learned everything from how to look the part to how to communicate with other executives in a professional way.
“I had an opportunity to listen in on every phone call,” he recalled. “Part of listening in on every phone call is that you learn the language, you learn the cadence of how people speak to each other. You’re learning the rapport of how people talk and that was very helpful.”
He would soon go on to work for another huge figure in the hip-hop industry.“I went to work for Bad Boy and it was a totally different type of cadence,” Carter said. “I felt like each lesson was equally as important because watching Puff’s hustle and watching him build that thing from the ground up. All of that contributed to the tools that I was able to put in my toolbox to build my business and career.”
He recalls being part of Bad Boy at the height of the East Coast/West Coast beef in hip-hop was incredibly difficult and, occasionally, physically dangerous. “It built a certain type of mental toughness in me,” said Carter. “There’s not a lot of rooms I can’t go in, or be able to navigate in, because when you’re kind of navigating rooms to see whether you’re even physically safe in those rooms? Being in a room where you’re negotiating a deal you might get screwed on comes a lot easier to navigate and see where the sharks are so I just take those lessons I learned from Puffy and I still thank him for the opportunities when I see him.”
He was able to transition his management to the pop industry after working with Lady Gaga. Getting into the pop industry was an entirely new realm for him.
“There are not a lot of black men in the pop business,” he explained. “You help build a big star like that and the vultures and sharks come out. I give Gaga the credit because when the vultures and the sharks came out, she was extremely loyal and called me when they came out.”
While he no longer represents artists, he still works with upcoming artists and young talent and stays in touch with the hip-hop industry.
“What the Savage crew and those guys are doing now just reminds me a lot of the 90’s and how we all had our crews with Ruff Ryders and everything else so just seeing Atlanta come back is great,” commented Carter on the similarities. “I’m loving this new resurgence. The other thing I’m loving about it is they’re becoming really smart business people. They’re learning about ownership much earlier than we learned about ownership. They’re learning about control much earlier than we learned about control so I’m loving that.”
To hear the full interview with Troy Carter, you can listen to the latest episode of Rap Radar on CBS Radio’s Play.it podcast network.