Growing up in New York in the '80s I fell in love with hip-hop. The culture. The music. Break dancing. All of it. But for me, one rap group stood tall, way above the rest. It was Run-DMC. They were everything! They were my Beatles, the pioneers of hip hop that changed the game.
I had all of their albums (on cassette) King of Rock, Raising Hell, Tougher Than Leather, and all of the rest. Also, I saw them in concert a few times during my college years, and they never disappointed. When I got in the game for a short stint, I wanted to meet them, but it never happened. Then, at the age of 23, fate intervened. I was at a trade show and Jam-Master Jay, the DJ from Run-DMC, was a guest speaker at the Adidas booth. I had my own booth a few rows over, and when I heard the news, I knew that I was about to take an extra-long lunch break. Ya’ feel me?
As I stood in line waiting for an autograph, I had a thought. If I’m like every other guy in line and ask for a photo and an autograph, then there is no way he’ll remember me. And I don’t even like autographs. So, I needed a hook… something different… something... anything...
As the line moved, I tried to think of something I could do or say that was different. But what?
Suddenly it was my turn.
I shook his hand and told him that it was nice to meet him.
He said the same. And then it was all over. All done. Time to go hom--
"I wrote the song for the Knicks,” I said.
“Yeah? I f#cking love the Knicks."
I didn't miss a beat: "I f#cking love you."
He took a beat.
"And I want to write a song with you," I said.
“Here. Take my number."
A month later, he moved his team into my office on 23rd Street. He was looking for space, and we had extra, or at least I said we had extra. We squeezed in the extra. But it was free and that’s the best kind of space there is.
We shared a desk for three years and I ended up managing the group. I managed my Beatles. Surreal.
Three lessons I learned that day:
- Put yourself in positions where luck can find you.
- Don't be afraid to approach your hero and make your pitch.
- Be prepared to sell yourself and your ideas to anyone at any time.
That's what I did, and it led me to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Run-DMC.