In an era where women in Hip-Hop are often regulated to stereotypical roles such as vixens, there is an army behind the scenes that are bucking such confining notions. One such person is Aleshia Steele. Steele. Steele works at a major financial institution, but she is contributing to Hip-Hop in a major way with the Texas Urban Music Summit, a yearly conference she founded. The event takes place in Dallas and is presented by the infamous Core DJ's. Steele is down to put it on for her city in a major way by offering entertainment and education for those trying to crack the industry glass ceiling.
Breaking through barriers has been a reoccurring theme in the life of Aleshia Steele and she's making bolder steps forward to ensure they continue to crumble. The Texas Urban Music Summit takes place from June 5-7 and features a dedication to Rap-A-Lot, Suave House, the Core DJ's, Play-N-Skillz, Gorilla Zoe, Dj Du2ce and a bevy of others.
AllHipHop.com: What inspired you to do the Texas Urban Music Summit?
Aleshia Steele: Dallas has a lot of talent. The music on the www.texasums.com website features artists from Dallas. The spotlight is finally beaming here now. What the city lacks is the resources and knowledge that's needed in order to be successful. There's a whole movement within the city of Dallas that needs to be exposed. The purposes of the Texas Urban Music Summit is the enpower, educate and expose those who want to be successful in the entertainment industry.
AllHipHop.com: Can you explain how people feel in Dallas about the scene. We've seen Houston have its big moment. What about Dallas?
Aleshia Steele: The city feels like it's our time now. We have our own swag, style, lingo, and sound. I want to introduce that other markets/regions. Now it's time for the world to see just what Dallas has to offer. That's one of my missions with the Texas Urban Music Summit.
AllHipHop.com: How did you get into the music game?
Aleshia Steele: Now that's a long story but I'll summarize. Hard work, dedication, destiny and fate. I've always had the desire to be in the entertainment endustry on the executive level. I interned for a conference in Dallas a few years ago. After my first year of interning, the founder (Mic Moodswing) called a meeting with me and said he felt I had what it took to take his conference to the next level based on my work ethic and grind. He asked if I would serve as VP of Operations and facilitate the Monday night entertainment meeting every week. He said even though there was no pay involved, this would help me reach my goals. I accepted even though there wasn't any payment involved. I worked full time then as well so that taught me how to balance everything out. I went to Core DJ Retreats, TJs DJs, networking and really learning the game on my own dime. TJ Chapman has a quarterly conference in 'Tallahassee Florida - TJs DJs. I went to network and learn this game so I went with pen and pad taking notes, front and center, focused on the subject at hand.
I was ready to get the knowledge that was being dropped. TJ was the moderater for the the DJ panel and he stopped the panel midstream and the audience by a show of hands how many came prepared with pen and paper to take notes. Out of all the people in attendance, I was the only one with my hand up. TJ turns to the DJs on panel and said "give her your contact information, how you like music submitted, email address, any information you want to tell because she wants to learn. One by one the DJs on panel gave their contact info, and other info and I was writting away. Tony Neal (CEO of the Core DJ's) was one of the DJs on panel and after the panel discussion, he came and introducted himself to me, asked me my name and and where I was from, what my goals were in the game etc. I shared my story with him and my goals in the game and he respected the fact that I came to an unfamiliar city to an event of that nature alone, and a female I may add, to learn this game and network. He said he was a believer in fate and I was there for a reason. Two years later, "The Core DJs Present the Texas Urban Music Summit".... fate, right? Tony Neal believed in me enough to put the Core DJ stamp on it making it the official industry event for Texas. He gave me that push I needed to go full speed ahead with my vision. Thank you, Tony.
AllHipHop.com: How does your relationship to The Core Dj's work?
Aleshia Steele: I am a Core DJ but on the Executive side. I don't spin/mix but the DJs told me I have the "DJ ear". The Texas Urban Music Summit is presented by the Tony Neal & Core DJs. I'm the CEO and I put it all together. The Core DJs not only consist of DJs, but Executives, Program Directors, Taste Makers, Graphic Designers, Label Reps, Models, so forth and so on. That's one of the things that separates the Core DJs from the other DJ coalitions; not to mention the Core is the largest DJ Coalition and we're International now with over 500 DJs. You have to be an individual in your city/market making moves and making an impact in this game. Those aren't the only qualifications but that gives you a general idea of how the Core DJs Organization is structured.
AllHipHop.com: Now, from what we understand, your have moved to the New York City region. How does this factor into your strategy for your company?
Aleshia Steele: Yes, I've recently relocated here. I visited often and felt the energy of the city and thought it was a good fit for my personality. I call it Hustleville. They say if you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere. Being here opens up other avenues for me that I didn't have access to in Dallas. It was definitely a good move personally and professionally. I stepped out on faith and everything else fell in place. Now that I'm living here, I'm planning my strategy carefully and thoroughly as you should.
AllHipHop.com: What were your early stages in the game, how did you get into music?
Aleshia Steele: When I was 15, I was invited out as a guest DJ on the K104 fm, the #1 radio station in Dallas Forth Worth still today. You had to call in and leave a voice mail stating why you should be a guest DJ on the 6pm-10pm time slot. If they liked your personality over the phone recording, you would receive a call from DJ Bad Brad inviting you to be his guest DJ. I got a call back that following week and it was a great experience. My DJ name was "Sweet K" (my middle initial begins with K). Sounds kind of wack now but again, I was 15. The interaction went well and I thought I would be nervous but it was like second nature. DJ Bad Brad told me I did a great job and he invited me back out to DJ with him. He said the station was starting a high school night to do the top 8 at 8:00 and he asked if I would bring 2 friends to represent my high school, Business and Management Center. Our mascot was "The Executive," a man and women in business suites holding briefcases ironically enough. Our radio name was The BMC Babes." Just talking about it brings back memories. That was my introduction the the music/entertainment business at the age of 15. Must be destiny.
AllHipHop.com: All these men, have you had any bad experiences as a Black female executive?
Aleshia Steele: Not really any bad experiences. But I have been tested. Men tend to think that if you're a female and you want to get in this game you either want to be a model, a groupie, or want to use them to reach your goals so in turn they may attempt to use you. I'm not the one. I'm on a mission and I'm not about that b.s. I won't be disrespected in anyway. My mother taught me a long time ago that in order to get respect, sometimes you have to demand it and I have no problem letting that be known. Once they see how I am as not only a woman, but a business women, I get nothing but respect.
AllHipHop.com: Who are your fave artists?
Aleshia Steele: Wow... I love music so that a pretty long list but some of my favs are
Tupac, Nas, Scarface, Donnell Jones, Biggie, UGK, Sade, Jadakiss, Faith Evans, Jay-Z, Floetry, Mary J Blige, B.G., Prince, Eight Ball/MJG, Chico Debarge, Method Man, T.I., Jamie Fox, Attitude just to name a few.
AllHipHop.com: What are our short and long term goals?
Aleshia Steele: I've met my short term goal already which was to transfer to NY to make my mark in the game and in the financial industry. I have a few long term goals which pretty much go in line with my short term goal. My ultimate long term goal is create exposure on a national level to the talent that does exist in Dallas. Some people are in this business for the fame. I'm not focused on the fame. I'm focused on the success. There are a lot of famous people out there but fame doesn't necessarily equal success, you feel me? My eyes are on the true prize. I also have another company; A. Steele Unlimited, a management firm. I have 2 clients now, FedTyme Records, & Taronica (singer). I have 2 new clients that I'm in negotiations with now. Be on the look out for A. Steele Unlimited.
AllHipHop.com: Final words?
Aleshia Steele: Thank everyone who sponsored and attended the Texas Urban Music Summit. A special thank you to the Tony Neal and the Core DJs, Definition DJs, and Richmind Records. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Texas UMS and supported my efforts in any way. You are appreciated.