The success of a multi-platinum hip-hop hitmaker and bankable record company executive Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ can be associated with a unique ace up his sleeve, his astute Chief Brand Officer Deon Graham for Combs Enterprises. Graham oversees Combs’ prestigious portfolio of companies, brands, initiatives and investments.
Graham began his career in South Florida while studying marketing at Florida International University and became a fixture promoting Miami’s nightlife. From his observations, he became deeply aware that nightclub photographers strategically avoided taking pictures of black clubgoers. According to Business Insider, when he checked the club’s websites, he noticed that only white clubbers were featured.
Upon further investigation, he inquired as to why people like himself and his friends were being banned from the club’s promotional materials, and a bottle girl answered him brusquely, “Because you’re black”. The racial encounter sparked an idea and Graham saw untapped business opportunities.
“I realized I had an opportunity to create a platform that catered to people who looked like me and went out every night,” he told Business Insider.
Graham launched his own website, City Never Sleeps, specifically aimed at promoting the club industry’s underrepresented demographic. Working with major nightclubs and leading liquor brands, he eventually caught the attention of Combs’ marketing agency Blue Flame.
Graham rose quickly at Combs Enterprises to become the organization’s Chief Brand Officer, where he orchestrates marketing strategies and ideas for Deleon Tequila, Cîroc Vodka, Sean John, Aquahydrate, Revolt Media and Bad Boy Entertainment. He serves as Executive Producer for Revolt’s new show, Caresha Please, and for the third year running, he coordinated Revolt Summit, a multi-city hip-hop event inspired by the former Revolt Music Conference.
“I remember sitting down for lunch a few years ago with the late great Andre Harrell and Puff and just talking about how we are going to evolve the Revolt Music Conference into something bigger and better that can serve the community more. We talked about what we felt people needed. RMC was always evolved from Jack The Rapper in those old music conferences that used to be held in the music industry and we just felt like it was time to evolve from that and add different elements, so yeah year three, bigger and better,” he says enthusiastically.
The success of Revolt Summit x AT&T in 2021 was evident in the more than 4 billion impressions generated across media channels, over 3,600 people attended the conference where they were able to interact with 110 celebrities, 383 one-on -One mentoring sessions were available during office hour, attendees submitted over 150 resumes for the career fair, nearly 10,000 social posts were uploaded during the summit, and over 20 black-owned businesses were supported.
This year, Graham explains, attendees can expect an intersection of culture, education, music and job opportunities, all happening in real time.
“We bring like the greatest artists, innovators, activists, industry leaders, community members and of course the future of hip hop and diverse people together in one space to not only get people’s knowledge but access to information and solutions” , he says and continues. “We wanted the summit to be solution-oriented. So you’re not just coming to see heads speaking at a discussion board, we have office hours where you get access to executives you’d never get, networking opportunities, a job fair, all these different things that you don’t normally go to would get at a conference . We want people to come wanting information, but also with a solution to any problem they are trying to solve, or job opportunities, etc.
Graham and his team curated this year’s panels, which explored what is happening in society today and how it affects blacks and browns. The theme is “The Future Is Now” which is based on Diddy’s version of Carpe Diem, “The Time is Now”. After Graham and his staff agreed on the concept, Graham brought together various staff and members from outside organizations to discuss important issues and community goals.
“We have a really stupid reference to this one named Julian Mitchell and the way he puts these panels together is just world class. I mean, once he understands the topic and the direction we want to go, he’s really able to learn from everyone about what these panels should look like, who should attend and what the topic should be,” says Graham.
The summit boasts many people holding coveted positions in music, entertainment, technology and other industries. Over the years the conference has had an impressive turnout and young people can gain mentorship, guidance and personal contacts that can develop into working relationships beyond the walls of the symposium.
“There was State Farm, Allied Bank, Puma, Motown, all these different big companies that hired PAs, producers and project managers, and then through what we did at the summit we were able to work with Endeavor to make that happen create excellence programs and watch aspiring leaders develop and train. So it’s not just the two to three day summit, but we want to be sure [it] extends beyond those two or three days and turns into lasting relationships, mentoring and jobs,” he explains.
Job seekers are not just a group triumphing at Revolt Summits, but Black-owned businesses who sign up as vendors to improve their products and services. Graham singles out a person named Sharod Simpson, who owns the God Is Dope brand, who bought the venue’s property, 797 Windsor, after the first Summit in Atlanta when he saw the potential of the conference. He converted the location into his office and now operates the facility as a multi-purpose events center and Combs Enterprises leases the space from him to host their annual event.
“That was important to me,” exclaims Graham. “We have Empower Global, a new startup, we have Soulful Bowls, which are actually Açaí bowls. We have HPC on the green. All food trucks are owned by black people. Everything just feels good every year.”
For those who are unable to attend this year, they can download the Revolt app and they can also go to the Revolt Summit where they can see some of the panels as well as Revolt’s television network.
“The most important thing I want to emphasize is that we are back, bigger than ever. We’re here to strengthen our community and make sure we give people access and opportunities they wouldn’t normally have. I like to remind people that my story and rise at Combs Enterprises is because I was given a chance. I’m very proud to be putting this event together and giving people a real opportunity to not just talk about it,” he says, leaving his final thoughts.
The Revolt Summit x AT&T returns to Atlanta on Saturday, September 24 for two days of live talks, panels, performances, competitions and your favorite Revolt showsth-Sunday, 25.9th at 787 Windsor St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30315.
Special guests include Pretty Vee, Bobby Shmurda, Coi Leray, Gucci Mane, Boosie, Iddris Sandu, Assets Over Liabilities, Tamika D. Mallory, Rap Radar (Brian B. Dot Miller and Elliott Wilson) and Baby Jade.
For more information, see Revolt Summit.