Such a freakin’ pleasure to talk to one of my own. As being both Jackson State University Mass Communication alums, this was kind of an important thing for me. A couple of weekends ago, I got a chance to catch up with a very involved music related Manager and Chief Visionary Officer – whom we all know as being a successful YMCMB rep. But not just any “rep”. Not to me. A close friend and business man, this guy is perhaps one of the elite IT men behind modern day hip hop. A New Orleans native, but a childhood friend to Lil Wayne, Cortez Bryant has not only gained success through close hip hop friends, but he’s also gone an extra mile in creating his own management company, Bryant Management. Although very influential, with having numerous roles in leadership, you won’t find many interviews on our beloved internet; and I discovered what it seemed to be, an amazing opportunity – to talk with him. And so it happened.
Charli: So we’ve never really gotten a chance to sit down and talk about your career – given that we both attended the same college and departmental major. How did you get involved in this industry of entertainment?
Cortez: Right. Well, during my senior year at Jackson State… well Wayne and I decided to take two different paths. He decided to get into the music industry and pursue that and I decided to go to college – so I went to Jackson State. As I was going through school, it was my senior year, he called me. He said “Tez I think I’m at a point in my career where I might need some management.” And he wanted somebody to pay attention to his career so he asked me. I prayed on it because I had internships set up with CNN already upon graduation. I didn’t even know if I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. So I sat out a couple of semesters and went on tour – and was like, “Man this ain’t for me.” It was fun, but I felt like it wasn’t for me. I had to really think on it and pray on it. But eventually I just went for it.
Charli: And all straight out of college?
Cortez: Straight out of college. It really started January of my senior year. Every weekend I was on the road somewhere flying.
Charli: So since then, you’ve kind of just traveled. What’s been the most challenging part? Like being away from family and kind of figuring out this “entertainment life”?
Cortez: Yeah, the most challenging part has been about the timing, the time it takes and sacrifices. There’s been a lot of sacrifices. It’s been a 24/7 grind for me coming up on 10 years. January it will make 10 years. It’s been a lot of relationship sacrifices especially for a guy. I move too much. What I do and understanding that I’m gone all the time. I can’t do the regular things that guys do. And then my family. I gotta see them on the spur. Like now, I saw my cousins. That’s usually how I see them when I’m on tour in different cities. So I’ll hook up with them after a show and we’ll go out. I didn’t know anything about the business side of the entertainment business – but I’d been in music with the Sonic Boom, so initially I didn’t know I had a gift and an ear for music. I didn’t know those things in college would help me out with what I’m doing today. The first couple of years was challenging, I really had to learn and listen a lot. I had to study different things, different people and what made them successful.
Charli: So I know you’ve kind of tied all of that in learning your musical niche. Have you worked with others like music groups and artists?
Cortez: Yeah, yeah right now my management is called The Blueprint Group which I hold a couple of positions. I’m the Chief Visionary Officer for Young Money. We all make executive decisions together. And then I have my management company called The Blueprint Group for the clients that’s signed to Young Money like Wayne & Nicki Minaj, but we also have clients signed outside like T.I. for the last couple of years, and Future. Then I have a couple of producers that’s turned into artists. But it’s expanding and that’s great! [laughter]
Charli: And it’s funny that you talk about all of these successful artists. We’ve been hearing about Paris Hilton signing on to Cash Money and Chanel West Coast getting with Young Money. What’s all that about?
Cortez: Chanel West Coast is actually talented. And to make things clear, anything Cash Money signs is totally separate. I know nothing about their business. That’s different. Drake, Tyga, Twist — artists on our side we deal with. I don’t know why or how they signed Paris Hilton [laughter]. But Chanel West Coast, what I saw in her is kind of like how I saw Drake. When people enter into the music business, we have to find something that makes you unique. That’s how superstars are usually made. A lot of people can put words together well, but what makes them unique is that this artist is doing something that no other artist is doing. When I first met Drake, he had the look, he could sing, he could rap, and that wasn’t out at the time. So I knew that he did all that well. Nicki came into town when there was no female rappers. So she took that lane and rap with it. But with Chanel is – Chanel is a white girl that sings and raps, but sings better than she raps.
Charli: Yeah I’ve seen some of YouTube. [laughter]
Cortez: [laughter] Yeahhh Youtube we won’t credit her early stuff but she is a credible rapper. A rapper good enough to be big in her lane. That lane is not filled for a white girl. And for a white girl rapper, she’s good enough to be that. She’s a double threat and nobody in that lane has taken it to the top.
Charli: Yeah I think that’s what I was trying to grasp and understand. She’s gonna be alright. [laughter]
Cortez: Yeah! [laughter] Give me like 6 months to a year. She’s going to be good. I see it in her.
Charli: Yeah I think that’s what inspires me. You’ve got that eye and the ear to discover talent. That’s amazing.. So now, you’ve been in the game for what? Like 9, 10 years…
Cortez: Yeah 10 years in January…
Charli: Right, do you have any goals, plans… future projects lined up? Do you want to keep this career going on?
Cortez: Well my whole life is driven from my purpose from God. I got my message and my calling l knew that. So as of now, he has me still on this path of doing this. I’m still getting a lot of blessings and opportunities for me to help different people. I haven’t gotten a message for me to move and do this and that. So I go and pray up a lot, spiritually. When I get that next message and calling about where I’m supposed to go, I’ll do that. But I really don’t know right now. I just know that I’m supposed to be doing this. [laughter] So I’m just going to ride it out.
Charli: Well shoot, that sounds good enough for me. [laughter] So what do y’all have next? What Lil’ Wayne got goin’ on?
Cortez: Well he’s selling a book on November 4th, the day he get’s off parole and probation from his jail time. It’s called “Gone Til November.” It’s the journal from his whole experience inside of the jail cell. He kind of kept it all in because people were wondering what is Lil Wayne doing? So yeah it’s about most of his experiences in jail. So we’re going to release that. Then we’re talking to Leonardo DiCaprio about releasing a movie. He’s going to tour the rest of the world first, but jump into movies after.
Charli: Well all that sounds good. I hope for the best as a supporter! How can fans connect with you?
Cortez: Twitter @CortezBryant and instagram @Tezzington . And then there’s the Blueprint Group .