ENGAGE: What’s going on, man? Open it up for us.
JABARI: My name is Jabari Johnson. I do music documentaries and I run an event company called COLORS. Oh, and now we’re starting to get more into content. I also do marketing and consulting for some people as well.
ENGAGE: How did you start? Like, what was the catalyst for you wearing so many hats?
JABARI: I was managing artists at like age 15 and that led to me going to a school in DC, Howard University, and that’s when I started interviewing artists early on like Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, and a bunch of different artists. Then I got a job at Capital Records when I graduated , started going on tour and doing digital videos for them. I made a film on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis that featured them creating the song Thrift Shop. Then I went to the UK to make a movie on an artist named Tinnie Tempah and then being on the road with so many artists I wanted to get more into the event side of it. So I started this party in New York called Surprise Party and then that sort-of fizzled out and yeah…
Now I’m here.
ENGAGE: How’d you connect with these artists? You just caught them online before everyone was really on them?
JABARI: Pretty much, I became known as somebody who was talking to artists before they were “big” and so being consistent and putting out videos a lot I started to create relationships with managers, publishers, and even the artists themselves.
ENGAGE: What’s your opinion on how social media has affected the creative process and content? And how it has kind of shortened the gap between being freelance and professional.
JABARI: There’s no real difference. Like, freelance is kinda of synonymous with not doing something full time or not having something that provides you with complete means to survive. It doesn’t matter if you’re on social media or a billboard, it’s still professional if you’re passionate about it. As soon as you get paid for something it’s professional. We live in a social Internet right now, it’s not really about websites anymore. Even social networks are becoming more closed and whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, that’s another story, but social networks are so closed that it’s hard to move people around yet I think it’s a marketplace, it’s where people’s eyes are , it’s a content platform, it’s a store, it’s everything. So, you kinda have to adjust and adapt.
ENGAGE: I wanted to ask you what your thoughts were on this quote “Being so hungry for success will make you sometimes forget to slow down and actually make genuine relationships.”
JABARI: Yeah, I think with anything it’s about the journey. Anybody that is striving for success typically you’re not the person to stop after accomplishing one goal. If you obtain any type of success it’s not like you’re just done. So, you have to realize that goals are just something that are going to be accomplished or not accomplished and once you accomplish it, there’s going to be another goal. I think a lot of people don’t slow down to enjoy the process of chasing something. I mean a lot of people are out here and they have nothing they’re even chasing. so if you even have a goal and you’re chasing something that’s a luxury and a lot of people die trying to figure out what that is.
ENGAGE: What are your goals?
JABARI: A bunch of things, but I think most importantly I just want to live the life I want to live and open opportunities where other people get to either watch or experience things that not only motivate them, but also invoke some type of action. I’m not really for inspiring people because inspiration is just inspiration without execution. That’s why I like to provide experiences for people or give people things to do or watch. So I’m just trying to live the life I want to live and hopefully it allows people to see that it’s extremely possible to do the same thing. So far I feel I achieved that and now I’m building up my staff. Having them achieve that and like doing the things they want to do in life. Touch people they want to touch and develop audiences.
ENGAGE: If you had a museum of your work, and when people entered it they’re was a voice briefing them when you walked in it said , what would it say?
JABARI: Um…It would probably say ‘stay ready so you don’t have to get ready’.
ENGAGE: Anything you want to say to any other creatives?
JABARI: I think creatives should just strive to help. I think the most important thing is to think about things more than yourself. Creatives are a very individualistic people so we’re always trying to get our work seen and get our work out there, but you know there’s always a generation behind you and I think it’s very important to sort of help that generation or pave a way for that generation. I really like to think of it like a colony your’re building and making it possible for the next generations to succeed.
Feature photo: orlan.do