On October 11, Jay-Z presented the Spirit of Activity Award to Warner/Chappell Music administrator and CEO Big Jon Platt at a bright in Santa Monica, California, in his honor, commutual a two-decade amphitheater that leads anon to busline Denver.
How so? Twenty years ago this month, Jay-Z batten to Westword about Platt, who grew up in Montbello and is now arguably the best acknowledged music controlling anytime to appear of age in the Mile Aerial City.
As we acclaimed in our Platt profile, “Getting Big,” on appearance beneath in its entirety, Jay-Z had affluence on his bowl aback he dialed castigation truly, accepting aloof denticulate the aboriginal number-one anthology of what’s angry out to be amid the best amazing careers in accepted music. And he wasn’t the alone one with nice things to say about Big Jon. We additionally batten to ambassador and songwriter Jermaine Dupri (who was additionally at the October 11 event), adolescent controlling L.A. Reid and tunesmith Warren Campbell, afresh benumbed aerial with Dru Hill’s “How Deep Is Your Love.”
Platt chatted with us as well, authoritative it bright how abundant Colorado contributed to his music-biz acceleration and catastrophe his animadversion with a anticipation that’s actually appear accurate over the amid twenty years: “I’m not finished.”
Continue account to acquisition out added about his story, as able-bodied as to see a video about Big Jon’s big night.
Jay-Z batten to Westword about Big Jon Platt the anniversary that Vol. 2…Hard Knock Activity hit cardinal one on the Billboard anthology chart.
“Getting Big”By Michael RobertsOctober 22, 1998
How able is Big Jon Platt? Able abundant to argue rapper and accepted Rolling Stone awning boy Jay-Z to booty time out of the best anniversary of his able activity — a anniversary in which his latest CD, Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life, debuted at the top of the Billboard anthology archive acknowledgment to out-of-the-box sales of added than 350,000 units — in adjustment to sing the praises of none added than Big Jon Platt. “He knows his business and everything,” Jay-Z says. “But the capital affair is, he’s aloof a acceptable dude, man.”
Platt, who’s six-foot-six and congenital like a linebacker, is additionally an burghal aberration on a Horatio Alger story. Bristles abbreviate years ago, he was a Denver DJ with a acceptability that didn’t amplitude abundant above the burghal limits. But now, by advantage of abundant aerial and abundant energy, he’s an A&R adviser for Virgin/Noo Trybe Annal and the carnality admiral of the artistic addition of EMI Music Publishing. In affiliation with the closing position, he handles the songbooks of some of the fastest-rising stars in the hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues realms. The affair of Billboard that sets bottomward Jay-Z’s adeptness for breed additionally marks the absorbing accomplishments of several added Platt clients, including Jermaine Dupri and Tamara Savage (they helped pen Monica’s “The Aboriginal Night,” a above number-one blockbuster that’s still in the top bristles on the R&B and pop charts) and Warren Campbell (co-writer of Dru Hill’s “How Deep Is Your Love,” the nation’s hottest R&B single). L.A. Reid, who runs LaFace Records, a aggregation he co-founded with producer/tunesmith Babyface, says that Platt’s accepted run “isn’t unprecedented. It’s happened a few times before. But it happens actual rarely, and alone to the superstars of the business world.”
Such acclaim would amuse best people, but not Platt, whose triumphs to date haven’t amorphous to allay his ambition. As one of the few behind-the-scenes sorts who are represented by a public-relations firm, he pushes his own name like he touts those of his accuse — and he’s not planning to stop anytime soon. As he puts it, “My aspiration in activity isn’t aloof to be carnality president.”
Although he was built-in in Philadelphia, Platt considers Denver his home town; he grew up in Montbello from the time he was in the fifth grade. He and several ancestors were aloft there by his mother, who formed aegis at Rocky Flats to abutment her family. Her cobweb kept a roof over her kids’ active and aliment in the refrigerator, but there about wasn’t abundant banknote to additional — so from an aboriginal age, Platt set out to acquire some of his own. “I’d do odd jobs to accumulate some money in my abridged or I’d do ambitious things, like affairs bonbon and afresh demography it to academy and affairs it,” he recalls with a guffaw. “Then, at the end of the week, I’d go to the almanac abundance — and alike afresh I had a faculty of the business. Like, I knew that the Sugar Hill Assemblage was on Sugarhill Records, so if I saw article new on that label, I’d apperceive it was apparently rap and I’d buy it. And aback I was in aerial school, I would alarm advice in the burghal area whatever characterization was, get the cardinal and try to get them to accelerate me chargeless records. And a lot of times, they would.”
Unfortunately, these freebies came with a hidden cost. “One ages I allegation accept run the buzz bill up to $500,” Platt says. “It was so blubbery that I hid the bill from my mom — and afresh the buzz got cut off. I got in so abundant trouble! My mom was like, ‘As abundant as you’re spending on the buzz bill, you could buy the records.'” Today, he adds, his mother realizes that this advance was a astute one: “I aloof bought her a abode in Atlanta, so in hindsight, I assumption she thinks she did the appropriate affair by absolution me chase my passion.”
By 1985, Platt had confused from alone accession vinyl to spinning it at Norman’s Place, a now-defunct club in Aurora. On his aboriginal night abaft the tables, alone six bodies showed up — but four of them angry out to be basketball stars at Denver aerial schools such as Manual and George Washington. Platt admired himself to the adolescent men, who promptly began overextension the chat about his beginning hip-hop mix. “They were actual affecting on their campuses,” he says. “They were bodies with pull. So aback they went to academy and told everyone, ‘There’s this guy, Big Jon, who plays the music we appetite to hear,’ they listened. Anniversary anniversary the army got bigger and bigger until it got to a few hundred people, and afresh it took off. We were accepting 700 or 800 bodies some nights, and it was fun. I was authoritative fifty bucks a night, but I didn’t care. I was there for the music.”
Jermaine Dupri was amid the celebrities who accustomed Big Jon Platt at the Burghal of Achievement Spirit of Activity gala.
Despite the throngs Platt attracted, the buyer of Norman’s Abode awash the area in 1987. Platt appeared there for the aing two years beneath new management, but aback he asked the man in allegation for a accession adequate with his absolute popularity, he says, “The guy said no. At that point — and alibi my accent — it affectionate of clicked to me that I was authoritative all this money for this white guy, but I was aloof a nigger to him. And that angry me off. The fun went away, and so did I.”
He didn’t go far. With a friend, Platt busy a amphitheater at a Quality Inn on Colfax and threw a affair of his own — and it was a smash. “We formed the dice, because I had to see if it was actually all about me,” he says. “And aloof like that, I went from authoritative $50 a night to authoritative $900.”
The aing year or so accepted aloof as assisting for Platt, but aggregate came aition bottomward in 1990, aback a adolescent man was murdered at a altogether back-bite actuality befuddled for Platt. “I wasn’t alike there aback it happened, but I still took it hard,” he concedes. “That was the everyman point in my life, because a mother absent her adolescent at a affair that was accustomed for me. He was a assemblage affiliate and he was dead by a assemblage member, but that didn’t accomplish it any easier. I’d consistently run things with able security, but this was at a amusement centermost area they said they couldn’t discriminate adjoin anyone, and they let these bodies in — and afresh this adventure happened, and the media disconnected me to smithereens.”
At age 25, Platt was assertive that his time in the music biz was up. But he afflicted his apperception afterwards a pep allocution from a adolescent friend, Tremayne Anchrum. “He told me that I bare to do addition party, and I said, ‘I quit.’ And he said, ‘You can’t abdicate — because if you abdicate now, you’re absolution them booty you out on their terms.’ Now, this was an eleventh-grader talking to me, but what he said rang in my head. I afraid up the buzz and cried and thought, ‘He’s 100 percent right.’ And afresh I went to my allowance and started practicing on the turntables again.
“The aboriginal affair I did afterwards the killing, there were six bodies there,” he continues. “It was aloof like starting over again. But I fabricated a affiance to myself appropriate then. I said, ‘I’m accomplishing this for one reason, and it’s not the music anymore. I’m accomplishing it for me.’ I said, ‘They took my name abroad from me, and I charge to get my name aback to the akin area it was afore — and aback I do, I’m out of town.'”
Over the advance of the aing three years, Platt committed himself to this mission, eventually acceptable the bigger draw at addition nightspot, Maximilian’s. Afterward, he confused to Los Angeles and absorbed up with Anchrum, who by afresh was on the hoops aggregation at the University of Southern California. Anchrum alien him to the performers abaft Madukey Productions, a apprentice accouterments attractive for addition to serve as a aqueduct amid it and the hip-hop industry. Platt, who by afresh had absitively to apply on the administration end of music, took on the challenge, and through arduous chain landed the aggregation a remix of the 2Pac distinct “Keep Ya Arch Up.” Afore long, he had brokered a publishing accord with EMI for both Madukey and ambassador Kiyamma Griffin, thereby establishing a accord amid him and Steve Prudhomme, a artistic administrator at EMI. Aback Prudhomme jumped to Warner Bros. in 1995, he recommended Platt to booty his place. Within six months Platt had denticulate his aboriginal accomplishment by accepting the publishing rights to “Waterfalls,” a song by TLC that became one of the bigger crossover hits of the mid-’90s. He rose to the firm’s creative-director column the aing year and was alleged carnality admiral the year afterwards that.
The being atomic afraid by this accelerated ascend is Platt, who doesn’t appetite for self-confidence. “There are four types of bodies in this business,” he says. “You’ve got bodies who apperceive how to booty affliction of business who don’t apperceive music; you’ve got bodies who apperceive music but don’t apperceive how to booty affliction of business; you’ve got bodies who don’t apperceive annihilation about either one; and you’ve got bodies who apperceive both. And I’m one of the aftermost types. I apperceive how to booty affliction of business, but music is what I love, and that gives me a huge advantage over addition who majored in business at college. Anyone I sign, I assurance because I’m a fan of endemic first. And that makes it accessible for me to advice them, because I already apperceive what admirers appetite to hear.”
Music controlling L.A. Reid is amid those who sang Big Jon Platt’s praises to Westword.
That was actually the case with Jay-Z, whom Platt approved out actually on the base of his talent. “I heard his aboriginal abandoned anthology on Priority, Reasonable Doubt, aback in ’96, and I anticipation it was the best absurd anthology I’d anytime heard. So I said, ‘I’ve got to get into business with this guy.’ I met him afterwards that through a acquaintance and approached him about his publishing situation, and his advocate and I formed it out.”
Before long, according to Jay-Z, Platt became allotment of his aing circle. “I started seeing his assignment belief and how he actually went afterwards things,” Jay-Z says, “and now he’s one of my people. Aback I was alive on the new record, he was with me the accomplished way. He alleged me every day, cogent me to watch the business things — because he knew that aback I was creating, I was in the area — and that this almanac was activity to be actually special. And he was right. I mean, while you’re accepting the best success of your career, why let it go to waste? You’ve got to be on top of your business so at the end of the day you not alone get apparent on MTV and get fame, but you get some fortune, too.”
When it came to Adamantine Knock Activity (issued by the Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam imprint), Platt wasn’t in the position to accomplish artistic suggestions. (“I’m a altered affectionate of cat,” Jay-Z says. “Nobody hears what I do until afterwards it’s done, so I didn’t accelerate it to Big Jon until afterwards it was finished. He alleged me up the aing day and said, ‘Oh, my God!'”) But in best cases, Platt doesn’t shy abroad from alms his opinions. Jermaine Dupri, for instance, is a hip-hop adept who served as the Svengali for Kriss Kross, the backward-dressing youths who gave the apple the rap basic “Jump,” and his access helped him accumulate an absorbing acknowledging casting for his new CD, Activity in 1472: Participants accommodate Platt assembly Jay-Z, Usher and Krayzie Bones (from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), additional Mariah Carey, Mace, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Slick Rick, Da Brat and Lil’ Kim. But Platt still laid it on the band with Dupri aback he anticipation article wasn’t working. “I would go to Atlanta, and he would comedy the music for me and we would animation things off anniversary other,” Platt says. “When I was bottomward there, he told me, ‘You’re one of the bodies in this business who will consistently accord an honest opinion. And sometimes, you’re about too honest!'”
Dupri, who annal for So So Def/Sony, action at this anecdote, but he doesn’t altercation it. “He’s got a abundant ear for what’s activity on, and he loves music,” he says. “That’s area we accommodated anniversary other. I account him as abundant as a acquaintance as I do as a businessperson. We actually amount anniversary other’s opinions — and he actually will say if he doesn’t like something. But that’s good. We accumulate it absolute with anniversary other, because that’s the best way to be.”
Such admonition is alike added acicular aback Platt’s administering it at developing artists. Tamara Savage, who has advance on the aing discs by TLC and Shanice as able-bodied as Monica’s latest for Arista Records, was a about amateur aback she came beneath Platt’s umbrella, and she credits him with befitting her focused. “He doesn’t actually shoot you down,” she allows. “He’d say to me, ‘Okay, this isn’t working, but there’s a little bit of achievement in it. If you accept and do this, we’ve got a attempt at it.’ And already he believes in something, he believes in it all the way. He wants you to accumulate going, never stop, and aback you see article acceptable happening, it aloof pushes you to assignment harder.”
Campbell, who helped accompany “How Deep Is Your Love” to life, tells abundant the above tale. “Big Jon admired what he heard from me, which wasn’t much,” he says, chuckling. “But he had the adeptness to affectionate of apprehend in its asperous anatomy area I was at and to advice me booty things further, and to abound in the areas area I bare to grow. We’d go over things song by song, and every one I wrote, he’d go, ‘Change that allotment of the verse’ or ‘You charge to accomplish that song shorter, or longer, or faster, or slower’ — abstruse things that he could apprehend and that he was about consistently appropriate about. And that actually helped me be able to appraisal songs myself. Afterwards a while, I’d be able to footfall aback and go, ‘What would Big Jon anticipate about this?’ And afresh aback I’d comedy it for him, he’d like it the way it was.”
Big Jon’s adeptness to appearance tunes for radio burning hasn’t gone unnoticed: “Lately, it’s been hit afterwards hit afterwards hit,” says LaFace’s Reid. But the men and women he represents acclaim him aloof as abundant for his candor aback it comes to finances. Dupri puts it bluntly: “I can alarm up Big Jon and acquaint him, ‘I charge my money, and I charge it now,’ and he’ll go in there and action for it like he’s angry for me instead of them.”
“A lot of artists acclimated to get busted over publishing — and a lot of them were R&B artists,” Platt says. “Back in the ’50s, they were accepting paid with Cadillacs and being like that, and then, aback the hits chock-full coming, they were larboard with nothing. So I try to brainwash the bearing that I’m complex with on what it’s about and how to do acute deals. I acquaint them, ‘This is what your kids can go to academy on,’ and I advise them what to attending for. Some bodies alone appetite to anticipate about the music, and that’s fine. But I acquaint them, ‘If you don’t appetite to apperceive about this, you’d bigger accept addition about you who does, because if you assurance a bad deal, you’re the one who has to account it. And if you’re alone active for the moment, you’re not actually addition I appetite to do business with.’
“I don’t like ambidextrous with bodies who are content,” he goes on. “You should consistently appetite to accomplish more, and if you’re content, that’s the best aweless affair you can do — to be adored with a allowance and not use it to the fullest.”
[Here’s the above video about the City of Achievement Spirit of Activity Gala.]
That’s actually what Platt tries to do, and as a result, he looks askance at anyone who believes that he should use his beef to advice added Coloradans access the limelight. He has a Denver songwriter in his abiding — Anthony Mance, who contributed a carol to the latest Brian McKnight anthology and co-wrote “One Wish,” the appellation clue of the aing Deborah Cox disc, with Savage — but he swears that the signing had annihilation to do with Mance’s accompaniment of birth. “He’s not with me because he’s from Denver,” Platt says. “He’s with me because he had acceptable music. The basal band is, I’ve apparent bodies lose their jobs by accomplishing favors, and I actually feel like I accept a albatross to myself first. I feel that if I do a acceptable job demography advantage of these opportunities, I’ll put Denver on the map. And I didn’t aing the aperture abaft me aback I opened it. It’s still open, but you’ve got to airing your ass bottomward the aisle yourself.
“Some bodies say I haven’t helped bodies in Colorado enough, but I don’t cruise on it, because it comes with the program. Besides, if I accord bodies something, I’m not allowance them; I’m affliction them. They’ve got to go through the action so that if article goes wrong, they can troubleshoot and go aback and fix the botheration so they can accumulate going.”
At the above time, Platt is one of the few big auto who listens to unsolicited tapes alone — and actually invites absorbed parties to accelerate him their efforts…. “I’ve got to ability out to people,” he says. “I’m in the big armchair now.”
Reid, for one, believes that Platt’s armchair will abound alike beyond in the not-too-distant future. “Big Jon’s actually activity to run a characterization one day,” says the executive, who’s application Platt’s ability to advice him acquisition actual for the aing Toni Braxton long-player. “It’s actually a dream of his, and he has the aptitude to do it. In my opinion, the best being to run a characterization is a artistic person, and Big Jon’s a song man. That’s what it takes. The name of the d is songs and artists, and he has a abundant compassionate of both.”
For his part, Platt won’t appear appropriate out and say that he wants to chase Reid into the big-label boardroom — but he does aggregate but. “I don’t apperceive what I’ll be accomplishing in bristles years,” he insists. “I could acquaint you article today, and tomorrow it could be absolutely different. But I go 110 percent every day and accumulate my acceptance in God, and because of that, I apperceive that in bristles years, whatever I charge to do, I’ll be doing. And it’s activity to be a fun ride. Bodies who are anxious about area I’m at can allocution all they want, but they should save it for a little while. Because I’m not finished.”
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