Tony Austin is telling us how he made the transition from Def Jam music exec to artist.
It seems these days that celebrities and performers have their hand in everything. From singers-turned-actresses to actresses-turned-fashion designers, we’re seeing a lot of versatility. What you don’t hear about often is a record exec-turned-rapper, and that’s exactly what Tony Austin, aka Mr. Make It Happen, plans to make happen.
Previously, Tony Austin worked on the corporate side of the music biz as an A&R Executive at Def Jam Records and then as President of Russell Simmons Music Group (which dissolved partly because “it wasn’t Russell’s main focus”). But these days, Tony is making music of his own.
He just released a Gangsta Grillz mixtape with DJ Drama called The Influence, which features Gucci Mane, Beanie Sigel, OJ Da Juiceman and others. He also has a music video out with Waka Flocka Flame for the track “Bang Bang.”
Why the crossover? “It was something I always had an interest in,” Tony revealed to S2S, “but I was never really able to focus on it because, you know, my life took a different turn as far as getting in the game and being on the executive side and everything.”
As far as feedback from the industry, Tony said,“I think it’s positive, and it’s very shocking to a lot of people. And then, you know, there’s people waiting to see how it [plays] out as well. But it’s like with anything, with success comes risk. So that’s why I went and did the risk myself.”
Austin grew up in West Baltimore and always had an ambitious spirit. “I always wanted more than the norm,” Tony told us. The former music exec began promoting comedy shows and concerts with headliners like Steve Harvey and Diddy. From there, he became his cousin Kevin Lyle’s driver, choosing to work his way up instead of just being handed a position.
Lessons that he’s learned in life? From his grandmother, he learned that honesty is the best policy, and that is the reason loyalty comes so naturally to him.
From the industry, Tony learned that “you can’t really have no big ego. You gotta be willing to do the work. It don’t matter who you are or what you are. You know, like Kevin says, he may be the president of the label, but he don’t mind getting Russell a cup of coffee, you know what I mean?”
In addition to making music, Tony currently owns Austin Entertainment Group, the 2 o’Clock Club in Baltimore, and he turns urban books into films. Tony recently did a movie deal with Codeblack Entertainment to produce 4 Life, staring Wood Harris and Elise Neal.
“For everybody that’s trying to get in the industry, or trying to be down, its time to get on board with team Make It Happen ’cause the train is rolling,” Tony asserted.
Get The Influence mixtape at datpiff.com, visit tonyaustinent.com for more info and follow Tony Austin on Twitter @tonyaustinmusic.
– Jan F. Lee
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