Eric Nicks was fresh out of Hampton University when he began co-managing the sister of his best friend, an up and coming rapper, Foxy Brown. He had left the safety net of a corporate job to pursue his dreams of being in the music business.
“It was a struggle. I was broke and on my own. I was hustling, knocking on doors, saying ‘please listen to my demo,’” remembers Nicks.
The hustle paid off and Foxy became a household name before she dropped her first album. It wasn’t long before industry heads took note. In ‘96 Nicks received a call from Lyor Cohen and Chris Lighty, offering him a position at Violator Records and Management where he would help shape the careers of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and Noreaga. For six years, Nicks learned the business under the tutelage of Chris Lighty. Always hungry for bigger challenges, he was the president of the records division when he stepped off on his own and started a management company, EVision, with LL Cool J as one of his clients.
“I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything to make a record,” says Nicks, who especially enjoys the creative stretch involved when working with artists such as Lyfe Jennings and new artists LeMarvin and Yolanda Renee. He takes a hands-on approach. “I’ve got to be there beat for beat, chorus for chorus, hook for hook,” says Nicks. His attention to detail has resulted in platinum success for Foxy Brown’s Ill NaNa, LL Cool J’sThe DEFinition, and Lyfe Jennings’ debut Lyfe 268-192.
Even while working independently, industry executives were still watching. This time the call came from Kevin Liles, former president of Def Jam, for a position as Vice President of A&R at Def Jam. Under Nicks’ tenure, LL dropped his 10th album, which included the number one single, “Love You Better.” In 2003, Nicks left Def Jam to become Sr. Vice President of A&R at Sony Records. He went on to Sr. VP of A&R at Universal Motown Records in 2006. Samuel “Tone” Barnes, one half of the successful Trackmasters production team, has described him as the “ultimate hip-hop executive.”
In 2007, Eric Nicks created R&B Live New York, the music industry’s most exclusive industry showcase. Since its inception, R&B Live has hosted artists such as Fantasia, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, Brian McKnight and many more. The star-studded room has included Kevin Lyles, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington, Terrence Howard and many other celebrities and industry executives.
2008 marked Nicks’ entrepreneurial venture. After successfully releasing Lil Kim’s “Download” featuring T-Pain on his independent label Brookland Entertainment, Eric joined forces with August Rigo to build Alpine Music Group.
Very generous with his knowledge and experience, Eric Nicks sits on the board of advisors for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is often a guest speaker at a variety of colleges, including NYU, Morehouse, and many others. He visits group homes and transitional homes for young men coming out of prison and speaks to them on various topics.
The Brooklyn native lives by his credo “don’t get caught without a chair when the music stops.” Nicks’ hard work and dedication ensures that he will always have a seat at the table.
The present, an era saturated with blatant repetition, ideas and concepts so much so that it would seem as if every note has been heard and every song sung. It is no doubt a pleasant surprise to find an individual who does not conform to the now but is defined as the next.
The future is August.
Born Dan August Rigo, he has been performing and singing since the tender age of 5. However, it wasn’t until he saw Michael Jackson’s legendary performance of Billy Jean for Motown’s 25th anniversary that he knew what his life calling was. He studied his new idol and in so developed a sound and style for himself. It didn’t stop there. Not feeling satisfied in just being a singer, he taught himself to play piano, guitar and drums.
To fully understand August, one only needs to listen and feel his music. Armed with charisma, charm and a knack for the spontaneous, he is a true artist in every sense of the word. In a time where music is lacking in depth and soul, he enters a fresh face and sound to shatter the mold. When he sings he evokes emotion and takes you along for a ride you won’t forget. A blend of Pop, R & B and Soul, August turns heads everywhere he is heard.
Not only a phenomenal singer, August has paralleled his vocal ability with a powerful skill, songwriting, arrangement & production. His ability to blend the abstract with the norm, along with concept driven writing has been a recipe for success. He has penned songs for producers Stargate (Ne-Yo. Beyonce, Rihanna), JR Rotem (Sean Kingston, Flo Rida, Iyaz), The Runners (DJ Khaledm Rick Ross) and many more. Responsible for Justin Bieber’s current hit “U Smile” as well as Iyaz “Solo”, more of August’s work will be climbing the charts in 2010.
This year also marks August’s US debut as an artist, having inked a deal with Def Jam records. August wrote his entire debut album and weaves tales of loves lost, gained and desired. It is through his unique expression of life and experiences that he connects with his captivated audience. Ready to fill the void left by the music of old he is ready for the waiting world.
August is the sound, the voice, and the truth. “I just want to make music that can take you somewhere, hopefully you’ll wanna come with me” - August.
AZAR S. BOGAN
Azar S. Bogan began her career in music at the age of 16 when she taught herself how to DJ. After having interned at the promotions department of Interscope Records in L.A., secured her own shows on college and community radio stations in Montreal, Canada. Her all-female hiphop radio show Cypher on CKUT 90.3FM garnered international attention and aired from 1998 through 2003.
During this time, Azar held various positions in the local music scene in Montreal. During the demise of Napster, Azar became the urban EJ at FLIPR, the first legitimate peer-to-peer file sharing service for music. Azar further developed her contacts by introducing digital distribution to record labels worldwide.
In 2002, Azar produced and released a 12″ on her own imprint that received accolades from The Source, Elemental, URB and many other publications. The following year, she was accepted into NYU’s elite Music Business Graduate Program.
While completing her Masters, she ran the operations of Day By Day Entertainment, a national independent distribution company based in New York City and was responsible for over 15 releases.
After a brief internship at Universal Motown, she went on to work in the A&R Department under Executive VP of A&R Bruce Carbone as well as Sr. VP of A&R Eric Nicks. While at Universal Motown Records, Eric Nicks took Azar under his wing and involved her in 1st Class Entertainment, the company responsible for the industry’s most influential showcase, R&B Live, an event that has featured exclusive performances by Ne-Yo, Brian McKnight, Fantasia, Mario, Trey Songz, J Holiday and many more.
Under her consulting company PSP, Inc. Azar helped guide the careers of artists such as Poison Pen, Eternia, Duo Live, Brooklyn Academy and The Kin. Today Azar is a manager at Alpine Music Group and right hand to music industry veteran, Eric Nicks.