Entertainment mogul, A&R, reality star, producer, entrepreneur and husband are just some of the many titles that are on Mickey “MeMpHiTz” Wright Jr.’s resume. But there is so much more to know about the young mogul.
Aside from being a great husband to reality star, Toya, and an amazing A&R holding the responsibility of discovering some of the greatest artists of our time, he’s also started his own label, and is ready to introduce the world to the next big star, Key Swag.
IOE reporter Shar recently had the opportunity to chat with Memphitz, where he opened up about his journey to the top, ups and downs of married life and his quest to reach a billion dollars. “To the future with us, God speed ahead” is the motto. Check out the interview below.
IOE: Lets first talk about your career. You wear so many different hats in the music and entertainment industry. So how did you get your start working in this business?
Memphitz: I got my start by interning at Arista Records. I got the internship from a school called IAR (Institutional Audio Research) in New York. I was about to graduate and they were doing internships and I saw Arista Records on one of the sheets. I asked my advisor about it. He told me about it, but also explained to me that that’s not really why I went to enginerring school for 18 months. Instead he advised me to find a studio. I was already interning in a studio with Jimmy Douglas (who is Timbaland’s engineer) but I figured I wanted to go check out the label and see whats going on in there. They told me I would be wasting my time and I would be delivering coffee, running errands and doing paper work that I didn’t go to school for but they also told me that if it’s what I really wanted to do then fine. I said “just get me in the door and I’ll take it from there.”
They set me up with an interview and I got in the door at Arista. I was working in administrative at first and then they sent me down to video but that’s how I got inside the building. I was doing exactly what they said: running errands and being the coffee boy and all types of stuff but I was doing whatever it took for me to get to the next level. One day I made it up to the 9th floor and I met Mark Pitts and he took me in. I called down to the video floor and told them that I wasn’t coming down anymore because I was working for Mark Pitts now. Then I started working on the A&R floor and that turned into working for all the A&Rs at the label. That helped mold me to where I am today.
IOE: You went through the whole process of interning, being the coffee boy and running errands that you didn’t want to do and didn’t go to school for, but you didn’t give up. What advice do you have for an intern who wishes to follow in your footsteps?
Memphitz: I would tell them that if its really what they want to do they will stick through whatever they got to stick through to get there. The way they do whatever job they’re doing is being watched everyday. How hard they go, how passionate they are about the smallest of things, it’s being seen. You’re being graded whether you know you’re being graded or not. You can’t go in there with this time frame in your head of how long its going to be before you should be popping. It varies, you just have to be willing to be humbled enough to stick in there to do what it takes until you get that opportunity. First, you have to know when that opportunity shows its face because all opportunities aren’t blatant opportunities. You have to do what you have to do and do what your told. You should always be sharpening your blades for when that opportunity comes for you to play something that you heard or play something that you think is hot. Nobody likes an intern that playing is music that nobody asked them to play. I would just be known for being around hotness because you have to know that one day if its meant for you its for you, that opportunity will show its face and you just need to be ready. Don’t rush it. Be ready for it when it knocks on your door.
IOE: It looks like you have that “ear” for great talent. You have discovered some of the most successful artists of our time. What is it that you look for when discovering new talent?
Memphitz: Not only do I look for talent, but I try to look for extra-ordinary talent. Everything that I signed hasn’t been extra-ordinarily talented but for the most part I like extra-ordinary talent and extra-ordinary passion. That’s really what I look for. Some artists I signed I was way more passionate about their career than they were and I found out the hard way that doesn’t work out in my favor. The best thing is for me to meet a talented artist with extra-ordinary passion. That means 9 times out of 10, if we’re not waking up at the same time, that person is waking up before me and thinking the same things I’m thinking about to get to the next level and that person is taking it to the next level. That person is so serious that they’re military about it. I’m looking for that militant passion. They know who they are and they are not going to stop at anything to get there. That’s what I look for more than anything.
Memphitz: You know really, at first I wasn’t even looking for a kid artist. I was stuck in my ways. But my cousin John John is a (Grammy winning producer who’s worked on Beyonce’s “De Ja Vu” and many others) was telling me about this kid, Key Swag and I told him I wasn’t trying to see any kids but John John kept telling me to take a look at him one time and I would see what he was talking about. So he showed me a video of him and it was just like a natural swag like I could tell. I didn’t want to deal with kids because I’ve found that a lot of kids have their parents pushing them to do it and I don’t like the “stage mom” thing and sometimes I can look at a kid and tell that kid is not as passionate about it as their parents are. But when I saw Swag…it’s like you know when you meet someone and you know they know what they were meant to do and what they was meant to be? It’s just a whole different feeling and that’s the feeling he gave me. It’s the way he answers questions and the way he talks and the way he moves. He can spit verses and spit rhymes at the snap of a finger. He knows that this is what he was born to do: entertain. I don’t understand how he got that at such a young age but he was already out there doing his thing since he was 6 years old like on YouTube and rapping for mixtapes. I just fell in love. I couldn’t believe I ran into him. I immediately grabed him up and signed him to my label, Do Work Enterprises. I didn’t really have an artist at the time and I wasn’t looking for a kid but that’s who I ran into, a kid. I told him he had so much star appeal and so much swag that I would be crazy not want him to represent and be the first artist on this company. That’s my little brother, I treat him like my son. I will get him popping! I go so hard for him! I know who he is and I’m just happy that I’m the messenger.
IOE: Now lets talk about the married life. You are still a newlywed in a sense. How is married life working out with your busy schedule?
Memphitz: It’s pretty cool, I love being married. It focuses me. I’ve never been this focused. When I wasn’t married, I was focused but a certain percentage of my focus was on things that is not on my mind now like the girls and things that come with the business. But now that I’m married I’m just so focused. My wife knows how this business works already so it’s like she knows how my life works and she understands my life and she knows the things I’m encountered with at times. At the same time, she has my back and I love her for that. I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I really look at her as a blessing from God, like shes a gift to me and it’s something I cherish.
Memphitz: We both know the entertainment business so we both know what it is. We both come from a background of entertainment whether directly or indirectly so when we get home we’re best friends. We’ve been friends since we met. She’ll go her way and I’ll go mine and we meet when we’re at home. We talk all the time.
IOE: You and Toya are great role models for other couples. How do you keep your marriage so strong and what advice you have for other couples?
Memphitz: Times aren’t always good in relationships because u can’t expect perfection- that just doesn’t exist on this planet. I would say just try to stay friends and stay dating. Dating is a big part of it. All the stuff I did before we were married, I try my best to do those tihings now. So every once and while try and do something that you used to do when you were dating. Try and stay dating even though its not dating anymore because you have taken it a little further, it’s still fun to date each other every once and a while. You’re going to have your ups and downs. That’s to be expected. Anyone who says they are always on the ups is a lie. That’s not real. Just keep dating. That’s all I can really tell you. If the two of you are really meant for each other it wont be so hard to keep dating
IOE: Aside from being an A&R and discovering new music talent, what are some of the other business ventures you are currently working on?
Memphitz: Right now, I have a reality show I’m working on called “The Mistresses”. That’s just one of many shows that I have that’s kind of attacking certain issues in life but at the same time there is a lesson to be caught inside of them. There’s a lesson to be caught in the string of shows I am about to do although it may be ugly in the beginning, there are lessons to be learned. My wife and I just did a deal with Ampro Hair products so that’s something we’ve been working on. Walmart just offered to put our clothing lines in their stores starting July 1st for the going back to school season. She’s working on her line and I am working on mine. Signing Key Swag to Interscope Records right now. I don’t want to put too much on myself, but im working towards a billion dollars. Like I always speak billions! I wouldn’t mind 1.5 billions dollars! I will get to the moon.
IOE: Wow! Congrats! It looks like you and Toya have a lot of things in the works!
Memphitz: Oh yeah! We try to keep going up. It’s real and whatever you consider real is what we do. We are a power couple. We both have our own likes and dislikes and things we love, and sometimes its all the same but we’re going to keep it moving and do it together!
Follow Memphitz on Twitter @Memphitz. Check out his new artist Key Swag at KeySwag.biz. Key Swag also has a mixtape that is currently on the front page of WorldStarHipHip.com entitled, “Who’s The Dopest” and is expected to release his first video for the song, ‘Tear It Up” soon. Check out Memphitz’s website www.doworkent.com.