Balancing High School And Being a Top Hip Hop Publicist with Lloyd Ellis

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Earlier today I had the chance to sit down with Lloyd Ellis the teen publicist behind some of hip-hop’s biggest names. Lloyd chats with us about how he got into the music industry at a young age and how he does it all while still being in high school. After having this conversation I am amazed at all this young man has accomplished before learning how to drive. Over the course of our conversation we talk about mentorship, consistency, networking, and viral content.

How did you first get involved in the hip-hop industry?

I’ve always been into music. My older brother Bob put me onto a lot of the early 2000s music. I’d always hear the tunes he and his friends were listening to on car rides to the mall and sometimes I was even lucky enough to accompany my brother in his room as he put his playlists on shuffle. He played a huge role in the development of my interest in music, but what really put it all together was my cousin Tony Loney. I was in seventh grade and just joined Facebook, and I think we all know how much of a nuisance adolescent teens are on social media. I went on a friend-requesting spree, and my cousins were on the top of my list to get connected with. Upon his acceptance, I was quick to message him and catch up. He told me he was managing a Houston-based duo by the name Travis & Jason, and I instantly thought they were celebrities. After a bunch of conversations and unreleased music hitting my inbox, we agreed that I’d help manage Travis & Jason’s day-to-day necessities alongside Tony.

This was back in 2010, and I vaguely remember e-mailing record labels such as Young Money, trying to convince them to sign Tony’s group. I did a slew of other things for them promotion wise, certainly not professionally, though. I made a Facebook page for Travis & Jason and updated their small fan base with new releases and what not. I’d spam other artist’s posts in the comment section, telling that artist’s fans to check out Travis & Jason’s music. I now realize that this tactic was inefficient, because now I have to deal with artists using this strategy to market their presumably unappealing music on the bigger accounts I run. After about a year, the group split and only one member gained relevancy. Travis, who is now world-renowned by his stage-name Travi$ Scott, quickly started making moves. I was along for the ride through his journey towards success, including his signing with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and T.I.’s Hustle Gang label.

In addition to gaining popularity came tons of coverage of Travis’s music on music blogs, and I was really intrigued with the concept of marketing music via the web. I eventually started reaching out to the blogs that covered his music, asking if I could assist in curating content. I landed a gig at an small music blog, however I didn’t like the feeling of just being a contributor and having an editor above me; who would have to approve my articles. Due to this, I made my own website called Triller Than Most where I’d have total control of what was published. This was a great way to leverage my connections with other hip-hop blogs to help market Travis’ music. Travis was continuously padding his resume, and unfortunately fame hit Travis hard and his egotistical ways managed to blast Tony and I out of the picture for illogical reasons. However, this turned out to be a good thing.

In regards to how young you are, how did you establish credibility as a publicist at Waka Flocka Flame’s management company, 36BRICKHOUSE?

My involvement in the hip-hop blogosphere is really what got me associated with Waka Flocka in the first place. One of his business partners reached out to me via Twitter showing interest in having Waka invest in my brand, Triller Than Most. This was back in the summer of 2013, and I was nothing short of excited and when I found out Waka was going to be in NYC that upcoming November. Unfortunately the dude who reached out wasn’t going to be at that show date, but he still connected me with his road manager so I could at least meet Waka. When I arrived to the Pier 94 in Manhattan, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The first words that Waka said to me were, “What’s poppin’ Lloyd? I was just on Triller Than Most on the tour bus.” Hearing that was very humbling.

Things remained quiet for a few months while we negotiated the logistics of Waka officially being part owner of Triller Than Most, but in the January of 2014 I connected with his team again in Boston. This is where I met my current mentor, Milan Ackerman. He’s the Vice President of 36BRICKHOUSE and seemed intrigued with some of the accomplishments I had under my belt after speaking. Those accomplishments at the time included PR work for DJ/producer KickRaux, when in addition to running my blog, I marketed his music to blogs that’d suite his sound and running his social media. The conversation in the green room that night was short, but very promising.

Milan and I conversed a number of times before meeting up once again that following April at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Waka Flocka was headlining an event there alongside Big Sean. I was 16 years-old at the time, and little did I know I was about to have my dreams accelerate towards fulfillment real quick. Milan and I spoke privately and he invited me to work for 36BRICKHOUSE, taking me under his wing to show me the ropes of the music industry.

From there I began to help run Waka’s Facebook page, as well as some of 36BRICKHOUSE’s smaller clients’ social media. In July of 2014 I coordinated an entire press run in New York City for Waka and his artist Joey Fatts, who has since been removed from the company’s roster due to unforeseen circumstances. We touched media outlets such as Complex Magazine, SiriusXM, Hot 97, among others. This was huge for me and I really can’t thank Milan enough for even letting me get so deeply involved with it all.

Who are some of the mentors you found in the industry and what are some of the best pieces of advice you got?

Like I stated in the previous question, Milan Ackerman was my mentor. My cousin Tony Loney is also considered one, but he was more of the catalyst to my interest in becoming a part of the music industry. Milan has taught me a lot, but one of the biggest things is to always remain humble. Having an ego can be detrimental to one’s reputation, just look at Travis Scott for example. People don’t respect Travis for his personality, they only respect him for his music and image. I think the best part about working with 36BRICKHOUSE is that they all remain humble and always take an oath to their roots. Waka Flocka is one of the biggest names in hip-hop, but he’ll treat you like any normal human being if you greet him in the streets.

A rise to success shouldn’t mean a rise in ego. A big head means less friends and less fans, which means a shortcut to all you have gained.

How do you stay relevant in the industry, balance high school, and develop contacts in the media all while living in Western Massachusetts? 

Consistency is key to relevancy. That’s why I work very hard to produce the best possible outcomes to the projects I manage. Balancing high school has been a bit of a challenge for me, especially since my mind is typically always thinking ahead to what I have to do when I get home. I find the material I’m forced to learn in school a bit pointless. I think school is more of a disciplinary factor to our lives, and helps us learn that things don’t always come easy.

We’re all going to do things that we won’t necessarily enjoy, but you have to work hard in some aspects of your life to please others, achieve life goals, and more importantly, bring home a paycheck.

I just have a lot of trouble with finding substance in the things I have to learn, because I don’t have to fight for what I want in life at the moment. I feel trapped in my small town community and I can’t wait to get out of here and to somewhere I can get more exposure in the industry. Western Massachusetts would be a horrible place for me to maximize on opportunities throughout the life of my career, not that I couldn’t, because of the internet, but it would just make networking ten times harder than it already is.

What are some of the campaigns you’ve launched for your clients and where do you see yourself in five years?

I’ve never referred to the things I’ve done as campaigns, but I’m heavily involved with feeding Waka Flocka’s demographic with content that they’d soak right up. From lions attacking circus trainers, to pictures of kittens cuddling with puppies, to some of the risqué stuff and they love it all. The team recently created a website called WakaVision that I assist with alongside my good friends Ash and Vito of Digital Mavericks. We post up viral content that people generally love.

As far as campaigns for marketing music, I’ve done a slew of media placements for 36BRICKHOUSE’s clients including 808 Mafia, Ben G, Azizi Gibson, and a handful of others. I’ll be continuously working with them, most definitely for the next five years.

However, I’m not quite sure what’ll come in the next five years, because quite frankly just a year ago I didn’t imagine myself being in the position I’m in now. I’m going to focus on what I have to do in the present and worry about opportunities that come to the table when they get here.

I’d like to give a shout out to Milan Ackerman and Brick Bronson, the founder of 36BRICKHOUSE, for helping facilitate my dreams.