EBONY teamed up with UMG to host our second Master at the University of Southen California featuring Ethiopia Habtemariam, Sebastian Kole and BJ The Chicago Kid. Passion and purpose was the focus of this panel and the triple threat managed to successfully stimulate the minds and light fires in the bellies of everyone in the room by speaking about their respective journies in the music business.

“To answer the question of ‘how do you do [what you do]’ you have to know why you do it,” Kole explained to a room full of hopefuls. His fellow panelist agreed and shared that once they realized their purpose, the rest is just a matter of working toward achieving that goal.

BJ shared his musical influences with the crowd, which included Marvin Gaye and James Brown and spoke of the connection between the legends and his music. Later, Kole recounted a memory of his own and spoke about how he made himself homeless and forced himself to be uncomfortable to pursue his dream. When asked what he would do instead of music, he responded: “I would rather die.”

Habtemariam astonished everyone with her powerful words of advice when asked how she deals with sexism and racism as a woman of color in the industry. “To be completely honest, I just don’t give a f***.” She declared that nothing would stop her from achieving her goals. She also spoke about how she, Kole, and BJ are like a family and that she loves them and is proud of their success and that she focuses on the artist because that’s what the music “industry” is about.

In closing, both Kole and BJ reminded everyone in the room that because of modern-day streaming, you are your own industry. Music changes throughout the generations and that the youth should be better than the artists of previous generations and the same goes for all of the generations that come after them.