Black History Built: A Culture Shaped From Creativity & Innovation

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

The World Famous Tony Williams for Forbes8 MasterMind video

Many businesses thrive on creativity and innovation. The most successful entrepreneurs have learned how to master transforming their creative ideas into viable business models, industry best practices and scaled processes.

In observation and celebration of Black History Month, there’s no question that the creative ideas of African Americans have shaped and shifted American culture and economics. Today’s entrepreneurs can look back to track a blueprint of building insurmountable value through artistic crafts and cultural expression by gleaning from Black History, which is also American History. Despite systematic setbacks and oppression, African Americans today (notably Black female business owners) continue to be a booming economic force in the U.S.

In the early 20th century, The Harlem Renaissance, a flowering of Black artistic expression in Harlem, New York manifested some of Black history’s most notable bodies of work in literature, music, stage performance and art from artists like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and countless others. 

Since then, several musical forms with origins in the African American community have transformed American and global popular music through the emergence of genres like Rock and Roll inspiring some of the world’s iconic artists and influencers. And for the first time in history, in 2018 hip-hop surpassed rock to become the most popular music genre. 

What entrepreneurs can learn today from hip-hop and R&B is the unparalleled genius in the art of storytelling and the power of a collaborative creative process.

In the new Forbes8 Mastermind series, songwriter and mentor in the music industry, the World Famous Tony Williams shared, “I think the most important skill for a young entrepreneur or artist is being open-minded to different ideas, to different types of people and different cultures.” 

Quote: “I’d like to be remembered as an artist that gave people permission to be free spirited or exercise their own creativity.” — Tony Williams

As the first cousin of Kanye West and background singer for Kanye’s 2005/2006 tours, Tony shared, “Collaboration is very important in art. Working with Kanye, he’s a self-proclaimed genius, but for me, his genius is in knowing the right people to have in the room, and that in itself, is genius. For me, it’s important to have a knack to pick the right people to collaborate with.” 

“Sometimes I wish they (young artists) could just come into one of our major recording sessions and just see… even just to get a feel for the intensity in the room… just to be a fly on the wall. Sometimes, you don’t know. You think you’re going 100% but you’re really going 50% until you see what 100% looks like. Mentorship is probably one of the most important things,” Tony says.

The opportunity to learn from someone else’s story to guide your own is the framework for the new video streaming app, Forbes8, which recently began streaming Titans on the Rocks where it’s possible to be a fly on the wall in the private spaces of industry titans across professions. The new series picks the brains of Cedric The Entertainer, Max Greenfield, Armin Van Buuren, Estiva, Rachel Zoe and Rocky Barnes. 

By candidly showing the way, mentors can be essential to driving the growth path of rising artists and founders. We can all become agents of change through the transparency of our personal stories and the vulnerability to share our inner creativity. 

Its time to do more in an uncommon way. The world is watching and taking notice.