Ready to Revolt? Network Executive Hopes So
I might be dating myself by ‘fessing up that I used to “want my MTV.”
Nowadays, the station which once featured animated “M’s” and big-haired veejays is the home to teen moms, Real World gauntlets and, of course, Catfish catchers.
The music videos that could determine whether an artist topped or flopped on the charts are currently swimming around somewhere on YouTube, VeVo, and Vimeo.
But the Sean “Diddy” Combs-backed Revolt TV aims to change all that, taking over Current TVs long-abandoned address and appealing to Millennials through social media and a channel with a gritty, grassroots feel. Videos play, but so do snippets of performance poetry, or documentaries. The genres co-mingle, rather than find themselves segregated into rap, rock, alt rock and other radio station ghettos.
In short, it’s a breath of fresh air for music lovers…that is, if you can see it in your area.
In order to build up even more excitement for the fledgling investment by Ciroc mogul Combs, Revolt has taken to the streets it claims to listen to… In a giant, bad-ass bus, it has reached many corners of the country, most recently, sidling up to a curb in Chicago. JETmag.com, a lover of emerging music as evident in our Radioactive series, hopped aboard for a bit to talk to the network’s vice president of marketing. Kenny Burns, a man who once got into a jawing match with his current boss for taunting him with a competitor’s vodka, shared not only the collective vision for the channel, but weighed in on some opinions on hot topics, like the co-opting of hip-hop music and whether Macklemore had any business beating Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys.
ON GETTING DIDDY’S ATTENTION IN ORDER TO JOIN REVOLT
“I come from Washington D.C. I moved to Atlanta in the mid-’90s, became the party guy. I was fortunate enough to work with some of the greats that are now icons in pop culture. Puff and I have always had a relationship. I signed a girl group, Dream, with him back in the late ’99 or early 2000, sold a bunch of records. He’d always been cordial. I became his nemesis, being a part of a brand I won’t give any props to… Anyway, so I became his biggest competitor. I just want to teach you all about putting yourself in a position to win. I was with this company, really a company that never empowered Black men one, two, or celebrities, and I changed the culture and thinking of that brand. Sean, the chairman got a hold of that, and he wanted to hire me for his brand, which is Ciroc and I’m proud to say Ciroc now. He came to Atlanta one weekend and it was the BET Hip-Hop Awards and I knew Revolt was on the way…it was about a year away from launching. But I wanted to work for Revolt, so I made a move. I put a billboard in front of his restaurant, Justin’s, with me holding his competitor’s bottle and then he came to the club and I got a booth that separated him from the crowd. Every time he bought some Ciroc, I would buy the other brand. I was doing it merely as a ploy. Didn’t know it would blow up the way that it blew up and it almost got ugly, but it ended up working to my advantage. Because that got his attention to where he brought me to California to meet with Andy Schuon and Andre Harrell and when he sold me on what the vision was…
ON CURATING THE MUSIC
“What we think is hot, we air. We have meetings full of young people that give us the energy that fuels the station and the chairman, Puff, his whole thing is for the people and by the people. And he’s a creative, so he doesn’t have limits, doesn’t have rules so what he says he wants to do he does. And he’s put a team of executives together, along with myself, to create this amazing station.
ON BEING PIGEONHOLED AS “URBAN”
“It’s all stereotype. A lot of business that Sean has done, as well as myself, has been categorized form Sean doing Sean John, Bad Boy records, Ciroc– these things cannot be segmented because they’re so enormous, so that’s just a stereotype. If you watch Revolt TV, you’ll see, we don’t play hip-hop record, hip-hop record, hip-hop record. We play hip-hop, alternative, EDM records. It’s for the musically proportioned. People that like all types of music and want it fed to them in this kind of format. It’s perfect for the music lover. The genres are blending and it’s necessary for growth in pop culture.”
ON RESPECTING THE GOLDEN ERA OF RAP
“We do tributes all the time. We had a Mary J. Blige special for the holidays. We’ve had testimonials. We just did one on Ice Cube, one on Common. We’re always going to give respect to the OGs. Pay tribute when we can.”
ON THE CO-OPTING OF HIP-HOP MUSIC (INCLUDING BY MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS)
“As long as people are embracing hip-hop, I don’t care what color or creed or type of way you spin it.”
DID MACKLEMORE DESERVE THAT GRAMMY? (Do NOT answer that, Drake.)
“Macklemore sold more records. Now I’m not going to go on record saying I would have voted for Macklemore to win that because I am a Kendrick Lamar rap fan, but can Macklemore rap? Absolutely? Did he make a huge impact on pop culture? Absolutely. I think cross-pollination of genres is the only way we can grow hip-hop, rock, EDM and alternative as a format.”
Do you want to Revolt? Contact your cable provider, if it’s AT&T Uverse or Dish Network, to ask that the network be included in their on-air offerings. More info on how to do that HERE.