Man, I thought I knew a lot about music and the industry. I really did. Then I picked up the phone and hit up Chicago’s, now claimed by LA, Sulaiman and I learned. I mean really learned. Not just about music, but about ambition, happiness and life. Suli dropped a lot of gems during our interview and we were just trying to keep up with him while picking up his knowledge. If you’re unsure of your current situation or just searching for answers, get acquainted with Suli.
Chicago represents a lot for Suli: His upbringing; high school flings; falling in love with music. Even if it wasn’t overt from the jump, music has always been his ticket to happiness. Back in the day when Jared from Subway was still Jared from Subway, Suli used his Compaq computer and Circuit City microphone (yes, way back in the day) to lay down raps and the foundation for his music career. Eventually the equipment caught up with his talent and Suli gained access to the famed Chicago group, Treated Crew. And while he developed a vibrant buzz, he knew The Windy City just didn’t have the reach to propel him forward.
Complacency is the enemy of greatness. Artists can develop a little rep in their home city and fall victim to hubris, completely forgetting there’s an entire world engorged with opportunity. Suli never forgot. In 2012 he kissed his parents and Chicago good-bye and voyaged out to LA to pursue music. It is now 2016—he hasn’t looked back.
LA presented an opportunity that Chicago simply couldn’t and can’t. As Suli so aptly stated, “Until there’s a building in Chicago where you can walk in and get a check, for being a musician, it’s not going to be like that [LA].” We all know the left coast has women, weed and weather, but it also has an unprecedented music network. Since moving out West, he has connected with dope artists, including Freddie Gibbs on the banger, Piñata. He began producing regularly— influenced by greats like Quincy Jones and David Axelrod— and wants to diversify his creative pallet to even include writing children’s books! Suli also appreciates that LA rips down creative restrictions, invokes inspiration and in his words, “Get on existential shit and go hike!” He’s just enjoying the path to finding himself and absorbing every moment along journey. But that path’s source lies within Chicago.
Growing up with a Harvard educated doctor and Philosophy PHD recipient as parents, education was instilled in Suli at a young age. He also had a natural aptitude for learning—he was always curious. That curiosity matured and earned him acceptance into University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Pre-Med program. Despite receiving a 3.8 GPA, he felt broken; pursuing someone else’s dreams while losing sight of his own. Through some chance occurrences, Suli linked up with Hustle Period’s John Monopoly and began running Kanye West’s blog. It was a beautiful time for him that gave him more experience and insight than college ever could. But with parents of that academic background, college was a must. So Suli sucked it up and received his degree in Music Marketing from Colombia. Yeah, Suli’s a smart kid.
He’s very aware of his fortunate upbringing; just as aware of his friends’ unfortunate, poverty stricken upbringings. Suli takes his experience and knowledge and sets an example for his friends pursuing their dreams. He wants to see everyone achieve their destinies and instills the work ethic in them that his parents instilled in him.
So yeah, I learned a few things from Suli. I learned the attitude necessary to pursue your dreams. I got a sneak peek into the mindset of a truly creative individual. I learned that he hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of his musical potential. His dreams far exceed simply being a recording artist—Suli wants to be in the boardrooms making the decisions that affect the recording artists. But, above all else, I learned that I really need to move out to LA to get after this whole women, weed and weather thing.
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