Posted on: March 27, 2023 Posted by: Adia Winfrey Comments: 0

Upscale Magazine proudly highlights nine trailblazers in the Business of Hip Hop as we celebrate Women’s History Month  and the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop Culture.

Cindy Campbell at 1520 Sedgwick Ave via NY Mag

Cindy Campbell at 1520 Sedgwick Ave via NY Mag

Cindy Campbell

At 17, Cindy Campbell produced the August 11, 1973 Back to School Party that became the “birth of Hip Hop.” The first Hip Hop promoter, she later managed her brother the “Father of Hip Hop” DJ Kool Herc. In this role she secured his “Beat Street” movie deal and brokered the Source Magazine 50th issue cover. During the Source Magazine negotiations, she secured payment for Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambataa. She later stated, “These are not ordinary people and they must be paid.”

Sylvia Robinson (Photo submitted by the Robinson Family)
Sylvia Robinson (Photo submitted by the Robinson Family)

Sylvia Robinson

In 1979, Sylvia Robinson founded Sugar Hill Records, and released the first rap music recording, “Rappers Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang. The same year, she signed the Funky 4 + 1, which included MC Sha Rock, the first signed female rapper. In 1982 Robinson produced and released The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, an inflection point within music. Sugar Hill Records paved the way for all independent Hip Hop labels and created the template for the rap genre. For this reason, Sylvia Robinson is regarded by many as “The Mother of Hip Hop.” Robinson passed away in 2011.

Shanti Das (Photo from her Instagram)
Shanti Das (Photo from her Instagram)

Shanti Das

In 1993, just after graduating from Syracuse University, LaFace Records hired Shanti Das as its National Director of Promotions. In this role she developed promotional campaigns for OutKastGoodie MobUsherTLC and Toni Braxton. From 2000-2009 she was as executive at several labels including Arista and Columbia. Das published The Hip-Hop Professional: A Woman’s Guide to Climbing the Ladder of Success in the Entertainment Business  in 2010. She shifted into philanthropy after launching Silence the Shame in 2016 to reduce stigma associated with mental health.

Sylvia Rhone photographed for Billboard Magazine by Christopher Patey Jan. 2023
Sylvia Rhone photographed for Billboard Magazine by Christopher Patey Jan. 2023

Sylvia Rhone

Sylvia Rhone has been a leader in the music business for decades. In 1986, as Atlantic Records’ senior vice president, she managed artists including Yo-Yo and MC Lyte, She was named CEO and president of Atlantic’s EastWest Records in 1990, becoming the  first Black woman to head a major record company. Four years later Rhone became chairwoman and CEO of Elektra Entertainment. In this role she launched the careers of Missy ElliottBusta Rhymes, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard among others. From 2004 to 2014, Rhone held executive positions at Motown Records, Universal Records, and Epic Records.

Deb Antney (Photo from The Atlanta Voice)
Deb Antney (Photo from The Atlanta Voice)

Ms. Deb Antney

In 2007, while working for the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services, Deb Antney founded Mizay Entertainment, a talent management firm. She rose to prominence by breaking the careers of Gucci ManeNicki Minaj, French Montana, and Waka Flocka Flame. In 2013, she launched Be100 Radio, an online radio station with over 100,000 listeners daily. Antney has appeared on several reality shows as a mentor and advocate for suicide prevention and anti-bullying.

Kimberly Blackwell, PMM Agency (Photo from PMM website)
Kimberly Blackwell, PMM Agency (Photo from PMM website)

Kimberly Blackwell

PMM CEO Kimberly Blackwell is one of the country’s top executives in new media, marketing, and advertising. Founded in 1999, PMM is an award-winning brand strategy firm infusing Hip Hop culture into campaigns for Fortune 100 global companies to influencers alike. In 2019, GUCCI Inc. appointed Blackwell to their Changemakers Council. In 2020, the National Black MBA Association recognized her as 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year. Under the Obama and Trump administrations, Blackwell served on the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory council.

Ethiopia Habtemariam (Photo from her Instagram)
Ethiopia Habtemariam (Photo from her Instagram)

Ethiopia Habtemariam

Ethiopia Habtemariam’s career in the music business began in 1994 as a 14-year-old intern at LaFace Records. Shortly after this four-year internship, Habtemariam began working with Universal Music Group. In 2011, she was named Senior Vice President of Motown Records, and worked with artists including Stevie WonderErykah Badu, and BJ the Chicago Kid, to name a few. In 2014, Habtemariam was promoted to President of Motown Records. A year later, Motown established a joint venture with Quality Control Music, home of The Migos, Lil Baby, and City Girls. In late 2022, Habtemariam announced she was stepping down from her CEO and chairwoman role at Motown.

Heather Lowery (Photo from her Instagram)
Heather Lowery (Photo from her Instagram)

Heather Lowery

As Live Nation Urban team leader, Heather Lowery brought Chance the Rapper, Migos, Cardi B, and Juice WRLD to their fans. In 2019, through a joint venture with Live Nation, Lowery was named President and CEO of Femme It Forward. The multi-format entertainment company set the goal of providing over 100 female artists performance opportunities in 2020. The mission of Femme It Forward is celebrating, educating, and empowering women. Since it’s founding, Femme it Forward has crossed multiple genres of music and entertainment mediums including women-led music festivals, comedy shows, college engagements and much more.

Karen Civil (Photo from her Instagram)
Karen Civil (Photo from her Instagram)

Karen Civil

Karen Civil’s career began in 2002 as Hot 97 intern with DJ Funkmaster Flex. In 2008, she founded karencivil.com and Always Civil Enterprise, which focuses on digital strategy in Hip Hop. Prior to Lil Wayne’s 2010 incarceration at Rikers Island, she developed a website so he could publish letters to his fans. From 2011 to 2015, Civil was digital marketing manager at Beats by Dre. She also collaborated with Nipsey Hussle on the Marathon Clothing smartstore and helped plan his 2019 memorial service. In 2022, Civil was named general manager and executive vice president of Young Money Records.

 

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