After conquering the Billboard charts with Bad Boy Entertainment, the beverage industry with Ciroc, fashion with Sean John, and both film and television with Revolt Films and Revolt TV, the man who once warned us he “can’t stop, won’t stop” has introduced his latest contribution to the culture: the Revolt Summit.
Priding itself as the next evolution of his popular Revolt Music Conference series, it’s a convergence of music, tech, politics, and all things in between. Most importantly, it’s everything that SXSW is not: it’s hip, carries an air of authenticity not typically found at conferences of this magnitude, and it actually has black people—every damn where.
This past weekend, a month removed from Candace Owens embarrassing her ancestors at the Revolt Summit’s auspicious debut in Atlanta, Diddy’s latest endeavor descended upon Los Angeles from Oct. 25 to 27, draped in the trappings of all things native to the City of Angels: guest appearances and performances by everyone from crooner Ty Dolla $ign to West Coast OG DJ Battlecat, food provided by Compton’s own Trap Kitchen and Blue Kitchen, and hosted by familiar faces like radio royalty Letty Martinez.
Though the Revolt Summit was decidedly hip-hop in spirit, it was much more than just an exaggerated concert. Seeking to capitalize on the face-to-face opportunities a conference of this nature creates, it also featured a bevy of voter registrations tables; one-on-one “Office Hours” sessions with accomplished entrepreneurs; a job fair featuring Universal Music Group, influencer marketing service Adwizar, Diddy’s own Combs Enterprises, and other companies; and an assortment of panels and workshops to both inform and empower those in attendance.
So without further adieu, here were some of my favorite panels, discussions, and activities at Revolt Summit Los Angeles:
Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? The fine folks at Revolt sifted through thousands of applicants before selecting five innovators to pitch their businesses to a panel of seasoned investors. Each business was minority-owned and ran the gamut from innovative cellphone accessories (Flipstik), to an ambitious diversity, equity, and inclusion platform (Inclusology), to an all-purpose sauce created by a business-savvy 15-year-old (Sienna Sauce). But while each impassioned entrepreneur delivered a captivating pitch on why they deserved a $10k investment and a one-on-one meeting with Combs Enterprises to help scale their business, it was Sienna Sauce’s Tyla-Simone Crayton who took home the prize.
With an assist by brilliant moderator Van Lathan, Atlanta’s own Killer Mike did what Killer Mike does: bestow his fiery opinions and insight on self-reliance, spread the gospel of reparations, explore the concept of “compassionate capitalism,” and briefly touch on his unyielding loyalty to Bernie Sanders to the hundreds of audience members in attendance.
“We have to get bold! Black people, you can’t just march and cry and sing anymore,” he said. “You have to get boots on the ground....Run for office, support the people you know who can do it, beat up your local politicians. Whatever judge sent your cousin to jail, vote them out. But do not sit back and wait four years for the soap opera. ‘I can’t wait for him to leave.’ Nigga, shut up.”
And when he made note of Diddy’s plea for Mike to run for office, he compared politicians to prostitutes.
“I don’t want to be a prostitute,” he told the crowd. “And politicians—because we have allowed big money to stay in politics—have become nothing more than fundraisers on behalf of lobbyists. Which in my indication, makes you no different from prostitution.”
Moderated by political commentator Van Jones, this panel sought to explore the means and mechanisms in which Gen Z must become more politically active during this upcoming 2020 election. This discussion was stacked with heavy hitters and featured Impact Strategies CEO Angela Rye, organizer and activist Tamika Mallory, a beautifully candid Jeff Johnson, and 17-year-old activist Aoki Lee Simmons.
“I also think it’s really important to break down this whole idea of staying in your lane,” Simmons told the audience. “Because there is no lane. There’s no lane for young people, there’s no lane for black people or artists, there is no lane....That idea holds so many people back.”
Refusing to be abandoned by the burgeoning tech revolution, this panel combined the brilliant minds and contributions of Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Arlan Hamilton, Diishan Imira, Marlon Nichols, and Melissa Hanna—tech heavyweights committed to not only breaking boundaries in technology but creating similar opportunities for other black folks in their industry.
After discussing how rejection is actually the secret ingredient to staying motivated, a memorable moment occurred during the Q&A segment of the panel. When an app developer from the audience lamented his inability to secure proper funding for his projects, Imira was blunt: “That’s not enough.”
The developer then explained how in the past month, he had been rejected by 10 different potential investors. Imiria was unimpressed and implored him to find out which investors poured money into similar projects, then challenged him to find their contact info and set up a meeting.
“That number should be 100,” Imira said.
Being the unrepentant sports junkie that I am, this keynote conversation between NBA super-agent (and 2019 Root 100 honoree) Rich Paul and Big3 co-founder Ice Cube was one of my most anticipated panels—and it did not disappoint.
With player empowerment at the core of their hourlong conversation, they broached Colin Kaepernick’s exile, the NCAA’s ill-advised—and arguably racist—“Rich Paul Rule” (which was amended in August), and the importance of capitalizing on what you can bring to the table.
“My thing is to hone in [on] your talents, hone in [on] your skills,” Ice Cube said. “Show people your talents. Sometimes people come up to me, asking me, ‘Yo, what can I do for you, Cube? I wanna work for you.’ You show me what you can do.”
All in all, Revolt Summit was a three-day blackstravaganza that excelled in providing artists, creatives and entrepreneurs a sanctuary to learn, network, exchange ideas, and celebrate more than just music.
Salute to the newly christened Sean Love Combs and the entire Revolt staff on their latest contribution to the culture.