‘No Genre’ music seminar brings B.o.B, DJ MoonDawg to campus


Kelly Wenzel

Rapper B.o.B advises students on the importance of developing meaningful industry relationships.

By Assistant Campus Editor

The Student Programming Board partnered with Atlantic Records to bring a panel of distinguished members of the hip-hop community to campus.

Hip-hop artists Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., who performs under the name B.o.B., radio personality DJ MoonDawg, Chicago-based artist Spenzo and Kevin Gates spoke at “No Genre”, a music seminar about radio play and how to pursue a record deal, on Nov. 11 at Stage Two in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building.

Spenzo, an Atlantic Records signee, said he was excited about the opportunity to speak with Columbia students about his experience as a 19-year-old recording artist. He said he would still be in a high school classroom had he not been signed. However, Spenzo said the industry has been a learning experience for him every day.

“This music business is school to me,” Spenzo said. “Every step I take involving this, I learn and grow from it. I feel like I’m in a school of music.”

Although Spenzo said he is still learning about the music industry, he said he credits his drive and ambitious pursuit of his dreams as the main reason he has seen such success as an artist.

“I don’t live up to my name—I live up to my work ethic,” Spenzo said. “I wake up and say, ‘How can I be better than yesterday’s me?’”

B.o.B., an Atlantic Records artist, Grand Hustle affiliate and hip-hop superstar, offered students insight about the importance of being mindful of how you carry yourself and nurture relationships within the industry.  Atlanta-based rapper B.o.B is currently on a 24-city “No Genre” tour with Atlantic colleague Gates.

“As far as relationships, you have to understand that before any title you have, any job description, you are a human first,” B.o.B said. “So treating people with that respect is crucial because you never know where somebody’s going to end up.”

Long-time Chicago radio host and comedian Tony Sco was also on the panel and chimed in on the topic of relationships and networking, affirming some of B.o.B’s notions. 

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned in comedy and radio is never burn your bridges,” Sco said. “You don’t necessarily have to be best friends with everybody in the business, but have a cordial, business-type relationship with a lot of people.”

Demi Lobo, a radio personality at WGCI radio, moderated the discussion between the panelists and students. She prompted panelists to speak with students about the value of professionalism, ambition and passion for what they do and have to offer the industry.

DJ MoonDawg, a night host for WGCI, added in helpful tidbits of information to student artists about approach and the focus on having something of substance before hounding people within the industry.

“You have to be able to offer something,” DJ MoonDawg said. “When you have something to offer of value, you want to make sure that you’re offering it to someone who’s going to give you something in return.”

Greg Owens, a senior business & entrepreneurship major, said the opportunity to meet celebrities is unmatched, and the event gave him and other attendees the advantage of knowing what to expect from the industry.

“They’re human, just like us,” Owens said. “It’s very important that people who aspire to be artists or producers get a chance to see those people that are in the industry that are well-known and get a different perspective. And they [gain] confidence to want to be in that industry still.”

Kawaun Moore, a junior business & entrepreneurship major, said he left the event with a more in-depth understanding of the characteristics artists need to make a name for themselves and how to go about developing those traits.

“The majority of the artists said nothing comes easy,” Moore said.“Everything you have, you have to work for. No one is going to give you cosigns. You have to promote yourself, get out there and network, along with having good quality music.”