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Greg "Olskool Ice-Gre" Lewis

 

 

Greg “Olskool Ice-Gre” Lewis – A&R, Chi-town representative, Hip Hop artist-turned-businessman – stands out for his ability to identify, nurture and elevate true talent. As a college student, Olskool’s behind the scenes entertainment industry journey began when he launched the first Hip Hop club in Jackson, Mississippi and co-founded a well-respected entertainment newspaper called “Da 411.” As a leader of Jackson's emerging Hip Hop scene, Olskool spent his college years heading music label street teams and founding the legendary Midwest/Southern Hip Hop collective known as the “Stewpot Stowaways.” Notable individuals emerged from this collective such as; DJ Scrap Dirty founder of Violator DJ’s, ViolatorDJs.com & SlumLegends.com, Activist/Rapper/Producer/Actor David Banner and Leo Brown, visual designer of Life Evolution & Circles or LeoCollections.com whose apparel has graced the pages of various publications as well as worn on screen by notable actors, comedians, VJ's and hosts. Pitched and negotiated by Olskool Ice-Gre, the crew secured a record deal with Finesse Entertainment and Records founded by the legendary DJ Finesse (WJMI 99Jamz/Core DJ's), who is a well respected veteran of the Jackson music and entertainment scene.

Remaining focused on his passion for music and what makes the industry tick, Olskool graduated from Jackson State University and was offered a job in Publicity with Steve Rifkin’s Loud Records in Los Angeles, CA. As a recent graduate in a highly-coveted position, Olskool strengthened his business acumen and contributed to the success of several Hip Hop classics including: Mobb Deep’s “The Infamous,” Raekwon’s “Only Built for Cuban Linx,” Tha Alkaholiks “Coast to Coast” and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version.” Just shy of a year, label budget cuts abbreviated Olskool’s stint at Loud Records forcing an unexpected return to his hometown. The experience gained in this position precipitated his success on both the creative and business sides of the industry.

 

Olskool’s Chicago homecoming was embraced by local producers and artists alike who were determined to put their city on the music industry map. Along with platinum producer Andy C., Olskool helped catapult the careers of the female Hip Hop duo, Syndicate (later renamed Infamous Syndicate) whose members included Shawnna (formerly of Ludacris’s DTP label) and Teefa (former host of Chicago's top radio stations; Power 92.3 FM  and 107.5 FM WGCI). His artist development skills and experience in Publicity, Marketing and Promotion resulting in a field marketing campaign that fueled the popularity of the group’s hit single, “Jenny Jones,” demanded the industry’s attention, and resulted in a record deal for Syndicate with Relativity Records.

While grooming emerging talent proved to be Olskool’s strong suit, he was still an artist at heart. The following year, Olskool shifted gears to focus on his own group, Abstract Mindstate. With unparalleled talent and impressive marketing know-how, Abstract Mindstate quickly became one of the most buzzed about groups in the Midwest. As first place winners of the Salem Orb-e National Talent Search, the duo rocked the stage of New York City’s historic Hammerstein Ballroom competing with some of the country’s most talented rising stars. Determined to reach the #1 spot, Abstract Mindstate went on to be crowned “Home Jam Artist of the Year” by Chicago’s leading urban radio station, WGCI where they overly impressed super producers Trackmasters (Tone &Poke) so much so that the the production duo advanced Abstract Mindstate into their Sony Records sponsored "Natural Talent Competition" as finalists. The group later signed a well-deserved record deal.

 

Realizing the hard way that “all that glitters ain’t gold,” Abstract Mindstate’s label situation didn’t pan out. Refusing to quit, Olskool went on an extended visit to the Big Apple to pursue a new record deal for his group and in the process, reconnected with his friend Kanye West. At the time Kanye was not the iconic Pop culture bending, Grammy Award-winning recording artist, super producer and creative he is today. After weeks of marathon studio sessions, Mr. West positioned Olskool as head of business affairs of Konman Productions and live in personal assistant. Olskool is proud to say, on a business and personal level, he was very instrumental in Kanye’s transition from hot up and coming behind-the-scenes music producer to internationally recognized Hip Hop superstar.

Serving as a catalyst for the success of other artist’s careers was gratifying and Olskool realized it was time to make this aspect of his career official and that's when Honest Management was born. He'd previously co-founded 4 The Soul-Reciprocity Inc., and molded the careers of several Chicago artists through it, including the soulful songbird Trizonna McClendon, who garnered a respectable amount of accomplishments in the Indie Soul scene from 2006-2011.

Although the music industry has undergone drastic changes, the new millennium served this game-changer well. Olskool’s star continued to rise via roles as Good Music's very 1st A&R, where he was assigned to a then up and coming, now platinum selling Rap artist Big Sean. As A&R of the label he was responsible for choosing the No.ID produced track that later became My Last feat. Chris Brown. He was also the motivating factor in coercing the young artist to record the song by giving specific details about it's potential. As Olskool accurately predicted and passionately professed, the song made Big Sean a household name and went #1 on Billboard’s Rap chart.

 

Currently Olskool continues to flex his skills as an A&R, but is also active in a new venture; G2 Productions LLC. G2 is a production partnership formed with long time Miami based collaborator and friend DJ Self Born who is also a south side Chicago native. The partnership gives "the two Greg(g)'s" a platform to provide fully written and produced songs and/or ep's for talented vocalists in various genres. Developments with his L.A.-based company, Honest Management LLC will continue, but with a more concentrated emphasis on consulting and artist development. Honest Management is committed to delivering just that – “honest management.” The firm will only represent an exclusive roster of talented individuals across multiple industries that eat, breathe and live (not sleep) for their craft.

 

In addition to song writing and management, Olskool will be revising and re-releasing his book appropriately titled, “I Refuse to Quit! The Autobiography of a Dreamer,” soon to be available on all outlets. In the past he has spoken in various cities coast to coast inspiring men, women and children to follow their dreams, no matter how challenging the journey may be. Plans to re-edit and re-release the book are in the works, but no specific date is available at this time.

 

As a visionary and eternal optimist, Olskool has shared priceless jewels via his YouTube series, “An Honest Minute.” Covering everything from the importance of face-to-face communication to the art of controlling your temper, “An Honest Minute” is a social media tool developed to enlighten both emerging talent and seasoned professionals. He plans to revamp the series and create more episodes.

Throughout his burgeoning career, Olskool has capitalized on his ability to anticipate and guide industry trends, realizing that music, entertainment and adding  to the culture are the source of his inspiration and success. As a dream-chaser with talent, drive and resilience for days, the sky is far from "the limit" for this go hard creative.

 

 

Related Links

 

 

  Billboard Mag: Kanye West's "The College Dropout" An Oral History

 

  Hip Hop Business Blog: A&R Radio

 

  Weekend Wrap Up Show (Interview starts @ 21:00 Mark)

 

  The Chicago Hip Hop Classic

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