The combination of street smarts, diligence and vision can lead people in various directions depending upon their motives. Jersey-born entrepreneur Chop, known to many as the King Of Cars via his series of the same name on the A&E channel, has successfully turned his natural people skills and street-savvy wit into a multi-million dollar auto business in Las Vegas.
While Chop a.k.a. Chop Chop may have his critics in the cruel world of car sales, he is bound and determined to stay on top of the game. He has turned customers into fans of his classic marketing antics, and hopes to transfer that admiration into his music as well. Some may jump into Hip-Hop just to make money, but Chop lives Hip-Hop, and through his hard work in the corporate world he has afforded himself the luxury of creative freedom.
We stopped through Chops Bentley dealership in Las Vegas on a rainy night to find out a little bit more about the man behind the infamous infomercials.
AllHipHop.com: People have to have a little bit of a back story to get their own TV show. How did you start selling cars?
Chop: Ive been selling cars since I was 14 years old. I would buy and sell cars right here in Vegas. What I would do is, Id see a Caddy on the streets, the guy was selling it for $400 and Id say, I got $200 cash for you and thats kind of how I got the nickname Chop. In the streets thats called chopping the price. Id take that same Caddy [and] maybe detail it up, put some rims on it and then sell it for double. I just started stacking like that.
When I was 15 I had [50,000 dollars] made off of the car business. So to me it was like that was it, I loved it. I was a kind of bad kid at that point, involved in all kinds of stupid stuff to make money. But then I started learning you can actually do this and not get in trouble. I started really having a passion for the car business like, This is it, I love it because I loved cars already. So if I could make money doing what I like, then thats good.
AllHipHop.com: One of your philosophies working with your salespeople is to get people who have never sold cars and training them from the bottom up. What do you think makes them better salespeople?
Chop: My whole key with what we call green peas is to take someone who has no training and then train them my way, because theres so many dealerships out there. Theres so many thousands of businesses out there that probably, if theyve been working business after business, a lot of time [salespeople] have excuses why they cant succeed, because theyve been taught by weak managers that tell them [excuses like] Its too cold, too rainy, Everythings an excuse why you cant succeed – but I figure if I train them from scratch, theyre gonna know the best way to sell cars. This is what I do, I figure I know how to sell thousands of cars [and] if I take my knowledge and give it to them, as long as theyre trainable, were gonna make some money together.
AllHipHop.com: Your team building skills are pretty phenomenal. What advice would you give Hip-Hop artists to build a better crew for themselves and get the right people at the front of their line?
Chop: I think its the hard workers – I think theres a lot of people in Hip-Hop and businesses like Hip-Hop that are just like, Im better than you. Thats kind of what we are as rappers, we talk about how great we are, but at the end of the day you still gotta work as a team. If you want Roc-A-Fella to be what it used to be when it was a big major conglomerate and these guys were working together, then it was great. But when these guys start working against each other and everybody becomes a star, then its a problem. I think they will be the first ones to agree with that.
So the thing to me is, if youre running a label, you just gotta have people that are down with you for real though, not just because youre paying them money. [People] that really have a passion for what they do, that actually like doing music. Because a lot of people are in the car business or sports and music because really they just wanna make chips, and I can respect that. I dont disrespect nobodys hustle, but at the same time you gotta like what youre doing because your fans are gonna know that [and say] Aww they just wrote that and mailed it [in]. Thats why you get these people that do a little bit of music and get out.
Ive been rapping since I was a kid, and I didnt ever take it like, Im gonna make money off of that. Thats just something I liked, and then my boy Big G from the group Silk was like Man why dont you do an album? You got all the means to do an album, you know everybody and everyday youre hanging out with different rappers and you rap. I was like, You think I could do an album like that? He was like, Yeah just do it and thats how it came about.
AllHipHop.com: As far as going into the music industry, after having a reality show and being a car salesman, do you feel that people might try to box you in a little bit like, Oh youre gonna rap now?
Chop: [Laughs] You know whats cool is, on the beginning of my show The King Of Cars you see me flowing. So you know what I do, the first time you met me nationally you met me flowing. You know that Im into rap and thats what I do, people can say what they say. They can take it or leave it, luckily the feedback that we get on Myspace and the website is good feedback.
Theres always gonna be those doubters and thats okay – that motivates me, to be honest. The people that say I cant do it is a lot of the reason I become successful, because Ive always had people behind me. When I was 22 years old and I was running this dealership by myself, all these other cats in the same job as me were like, Oh this dudes a punk, hes a gangster and a tough guy. Hes not gonna be able to do nothing, hes gonna get locked up. Hes not gonna be able to do legitimate business. Now Im selling five or six times all these dudes put together. You can do business the right way and still be cool. You dont have to be a nerd to make money.
AllHipHop.com: It seems like every time we see you on the show youre upbeat. What motivates you? What tips do you have for other people to get up every morning and be ready?
Chop: What gets me going is to watch my team grow. Ive been lucky enough to get to that point where Im doing real well. I got dudes who will come working for me at 17-years-old, now theyre 20 with three houses and cars, but they appreciate what they got. You go to their house, its clean. They take care of their cars because they appreciate the fact that they got a shot. I got a shot young, so its like my favorite thing is to watch my little team and family come up with me.
The same thing with this music thing – I got my partner Sweet Geez, and hes a real talented dude. As far as bringing his Bay style to my Vegas style, its like nobody else. Thats the one thing I do, when I sell cars or do music and the TV show the whole goal is to be like nobody else and be original. I cant stand the same old [music] – you turn the radio on and hear three songs that sound exactly the same, Im not with that. Im with the songs that are hits because theyre supposed to be. Somebody got original and did something special, and thats why it blew up.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned the Vegas style. What would you say that is?
Chop: When I was a kid I lived in Jersey, when I got here I was like, Man this is just crazy because we didnt have gangs where I lived. When I got into school it was like I was wearing a red FILA suit and I didnt even know, they were like, You cant be wearing that up in here, cuz. I didnt even know what he was talking about. He was talking about Crips, and I was like Whats that, a crippled person? I wasnt with it at that point, we had a whole different style back East, but I got it real quick [as far as] whos in charge, doing what and making moves.
Then when I got it, this is an easy place to get along, because at the end of the day people like to be flashy out here, get ahead and look good. When it came to the car game I was like, Man I could take a regular old raggedy car, take some rims and detail it and Im gonna do well. Then all of a sudden it just transpired into a dealership, and Im selling thousands of these cars. I do hooked up cars, Im doing whips like this all day long putting rims, TVs, and interiors.
The key is I sell them at the right price, because people from the hood will come in driving a car with 22s, Lambo doors and custom interiors. Theyre under 20 Gs and they got bad credit, riding like theyre in a video. My whole goal is to do it in bulk. I dont gotta make a bunch of money on one car, but if I sell cars and take care of a gang of people then itll all work out in the long run.
AllHipHop.com: With the album I would have to assume that a lot of the relationships you have are pretty organic. How much reaching out do you do?
Chop: Its a trip, because Ill be out and about at car events, and Im real connected with DUB Magazine. I was in Houston, and its like all of a sudden Im sitting down with Mike Jones, they watched my show before. Im talking with Bun B and Pimp C, and its just crazy how it all comes about. I do music, and its like all of a sudden youre in the studio [with people] and youre doing a track. We just got done in the studio, we did two tracks with Paul Wall. That dude was like the coolest dude I ever met. He came through Vegas and was like, If I come back, Ill hit you up and we can do a track.
Most cats say that but they aint gonna call you when they come in town, he legitimately called me. He didnt want to borrow a car or nothing, hes just like I said I was gonna come through, whats up? We met at the studio and knocked a track out, he had to go do a show at The Forum Shops at Caesars, but he was like, What about Geez album? because the other artist I work with is my partner in rap, were doing his album after our album. He said You wanna do another track for him? He just started doing another track for nothing, Im like, Wow this dude is really unique. So there is definitely shady characters all day long in the music business, in the car business and every business, but there are those good people who will trip you out and you dont expect that to happen. I dont expect that to happen in Hip-Hop.