×

Epic Records’ Sylvia Rhone Cautions ‘Feeding Frenzy’ Will ‘Dilute’ Hip-Hop

The music executive received the Culture Creators Icon Award. ESPN's Jemele Hill and "Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris were also honored.

Entertainment heavies were out in force on Friday afternoon for the third annual Culture Creators Awards held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Recognizing innovation and leadership of minorities in industries including film, television, music and fashion, the event honored Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone with the Icon Award, ESPN’s Jemele Hill with the Defiance Award and Kenya Barris, writer, producer and creator of “Black-ish,” among many others.

Emceed by “Extra” hosts A.J. Calloway and Tanika Ray, the gala doubled as a call to action to the black entertainment community, particularly as it relates to culture vultures looking to seize on opportunities to make a quick buck. The warning was a central theme of Rhone’s acceptance speech. “Our one common goal is to protect the culture,” the label veteran declared. “And now more than ever, since our culture has gotten so popular and those people who have never been a part of the culture but see that they can make a lot of money [on it], we have to watch very closely. There’s a feeding frenzy and [these] people are the buyers not the believers.”

Rhone, who has worked in the music industry for over four decades and was the first woman of color to head a major label, added that it’s also important to monitor the quality of urban and hip-hop entertainment offerings “so it continues to rise and have significant impact.” Said the Icon recipient from the stage: “If we’re not careful to curate really closely, it will start to dilute the importance of what we built since the 80s, and what they just discovered in 2018. … I started in hip-hop in the early and mid 80s — it was from my heart and the people working around you, and now it’s an analytical decision. This is an important turning point.”

DJ Khaled, who is on the Epic Records roster and currently stars in The Fox show “The Four,” introduced Rhone as “a powerful queen” and an “inspiration.” Added Khaled: “She’s not only a boss, a mogul, an icon and a friend, she’s someone that really cares about the music business and culture and where it’s going. And where it started. … She protects us.”

Women made up half of the honorees at the event, with Jemele Hill, who was introduced as “the voice that we all have inside of us but aren’t always brave enough to use it,” eliciting cheers for her resilience in the wake of controversial comments she made on social media, which resulted in a suspension from the network. “Of all the controversy I’ve been through, there’s a reason why, for me, I was always at peace with it,” she said with a pause. “Because of people like you in this room. A lot of support from people who looked like me. And without that support, I wouldn’t have been able to make it though such a challenging and difficult time.”

Other honorees from TV and music included Barris, Live Nation Urban president Shawn Gee, RCA Records EVP and Keep Cool co-founder Tunji Balogun and Roc Nation EVP of media and strategic development Jana Fleishman (pictured below), who credited her boss of more than 15 years, Jay-Z (“a very wise man”), for some sage words he offered to her after a meeting one day. Said Jay, per Fleishman: “We are not in this to sell records; our responsibility is to move the culture forward. If we can introduce one person to one new idea, we’ve won.”

<> on June 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Culture Creators

Also spotted in the 500-capacity ballroom: Roc Nation Chief Operating Officer Desiree Perez, Migos manager and Quality Control co-founder Coach K, Khalid manager Courtney Stewart, Will.I.Am (on hand to introduce  Fatima Robinson) and director John Singleton. The June 22 event, sponsored by Rémy Martin, The Mane Choice, Morgan Stanley and Beats by Dre, also served as a well-timed kick-off to BET Awards weekend.

See the full list of Culture Creator Awards recipients below.

Icon Award
Music
Sylvia Rhone
President, Epic Records

The Defiance Award
Media
Jemele Hill
Chief Correspondent & Sr. Columnist, The Undefeated ESPN

Business
Lauren Wesley Wilson
President ColorComm, Inc.

Dance/Art
Fatima Robinson
Choreographer & Director

Fashion
Brea Stinson
Owner & Fashion Designer, STINSON HAUS

Film & Television
Charles D. King
Founder & CEO, MACRO

Kenya Barris
Writer & Producer, Creator of “Black-ish”

Finance
Rashaun Williams
General Partner, MVP All-Star Fund

Music
Shawn Gee
President, Live Nation Urban

Tunji Balogun
Co-Founder, Keep Cool/EVP, A&R RCA Records

Public Relations
Jana Fleishman
EVP Media & Strategic Development, Roc Nation

Social Activism
Kristi Henderson
Co-Founder, WEEN

Sports
Carlos Fleming
Partner & Head of Sports Talent Marketing, WME

Technology
Rodney Williams
CEO & Co-Founder, LISNR

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Rob Thomas Sammy Hagar

    Sammy Hagar Joins Rob Thomas for 'Smooth' Performance (Watch)

    Who do you call when your pal Carlos Santana has plans on a Friday night? If you’re Rob Thomas, you recruit another famous friend, rocker Sammy Hagar, who turned up to help the singer close out the latest show of his Chip Tooth Smile tour with a performance of “Smooth” at the Fox Performing Arts [...]

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content