Operation Push Annual Conference: Hip Hop Summit


Power Panel leader Dwayne Bryant

                          The multibillion dollar Hip Hop industry is thriving. An entrepreneur who plays his cards right can hit the jackpot. Hopefully, he will share that wealth with his community. 

That’s the message that will be conveyed June 21 at the Hip Hop Summit sponsored by Rainbow Push at the Chicago Hilton & Towers.  

John Mitchell, Rainbow Push’s chief of staff, expects entrepreneurs between age 18 and 35, who are trying to break into hip hop, to attend. 

“The focus is on the $684 billion of buying power in the hip hop community,” says Mitchell. “We want to discuss, how do you get corporations like Sony and Jive to reinvest in the people who are buying the products?”

The Summit will educate them on technology, capital and idea flow, and offer them a chance to connect with business and community leaders. For example, they might find an opportunity to launch their apparel line by discussing it with a Macy’s executive.

Grammy-winning rapper Rhymefest
Grammy-winning rapper Rhymefest

Moderating the Power Panel is Dwayne Bryant, a motivational speaker and trainer.  He had led workshops for Burrell Communications Group, AT&T, and Pizza Hut, and is currently a correspondent for Fox NextTV.

Panelists are George Daniels, a 30-year music industry veteran and owner of George’s Music Store; Rhymefest, on how to network in order to create a political voice; singer Treston Irby; WTLC Radio One program director Khris Raye; former Boston Celtic Eric Williams and WCGI DJ Loni Swayne, who will present a perspective on marketing, advertising and radio airplay.


“Hip hop is big business,” Bryant says.  “50 Cent may only be interested in money, but Jay-Z takes a broader view. In addition to selling out stadiums, Jay-Z has the Roc Nation music label, Rocawear clothing line, a share of the New Jersey Knicks, considerable real estate and many other business ventures.

“Jay-Z was just on the cover of Forbes, with Warren Buffet,” he says.  “Jay-Z wants to be a businessman. He enjoys wearing a suit and tie. He is not just dancing all day with women in bikinis, he has to meet with his attorney, his business managers.”

Treston Irby of R&B group Hi-Five
Treston Irby of R&B group Hi-Five
Hip hop entrepreneurs should have talent, a solid education, and skilled people to surround themselves with. Then they should focus on giving back to the community, Bryant states.

“A lot of rappers fantasize and sing about money, women, fast cars, but that does not add up to a successful life,” he says.  “We want to marry hip hop to the next level, which is social responsibility.”

The Hip Hop Summit takes place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton, 720 S. Michigan.  The $40 fee includes hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and networking 9 p.m. to midnight at the Crimson Lounge, 333 N. Dearborn. 

Attendees can listen to tunes spun by DJ Jay Illa and sung by Treston of the R&B group Hi-Five, and network with the speaker panel.

"I want to commend Mr. Bryant for speaking at our Black History Program. Dwayne’s message was uplifting and personally challenging. It is exciting to note that he was warmly received by staff and clients alike. This feat is not easily accomplished."

-Bellefontaine Habilitation Center