Manager/Booking Agent Johnnie Cabbell: New Company, Business As Usual

As the booking agent for artists like Gucci Mane, Wacka Flocka, Nicki Minaj and as a manager for Shawty Lo, D4L, Crime Mob and Tamika Scott of Xscape, entertainment mogul Johnie Cabbell has his hands full. Since 1999 his company Hitt Afta Hitt Entertainment garnered a great deal of attention and success due to the fact that many artists that he worked with achieved chart-topping success over the course of the past few years. But as Johnnie gained more success, he also learned some things along the way.

Controversial articles in Ozone Magazine and Creative Loafing questioned Cabbell and his business dealings, including accusations that his artists would book shows and then skip out with the deposits. Johnnie has several projects on deck and has his sights set on delivering for his artists and the people on the streets with his new company, now named HAH Enterprises. So our readers know that may not know. Can you tell me exactly what you do and how you have been so successful with Hit Afta Hit Entertainment?

Johnnie Cabbell: Well it’s HAH Enterprises now. But, just to let you know this is Johnnie Cabbell, the CEO of HAH Enterprises. I have an entertainment company, which consists of booking agency, management, consulting, marketing, PR, and a TV network. We do a little of everything, I’m more of a one stop shop per say. I’ve been successful with a lot of groups. I’ve been blessed to be where I’m at today. It all started out with Crime Mob, and groups like D4L, Fabo, Shawty Lo, Young Ralph, DG Yola, I worked with Shop Boys, Franchise Boyz, Trillville and Lil’ Scrappy. So the name speaks for itself, you know what I’m saying? I’ve been around on the scene for about 10 years strong now. I have really been blessed and every year has been a bigger year for me. As far as the booking agency, which is the main component of my company, it’s been very successful. At Hit Afta Hit Booking I worked with Gucci Mane, Wacka Flocka, Nicki Minaj, OJ Da Juiceman, J Money, Verse Simmons, Lil Scrappy, Shop Boyz. The list goes on and on. So all the hot groups out of Atlanta, I’m either managing for them or booking for them, or bridging the gap where as I am facilitating a deal type or getting them to the next level. So I’ve been blessed. I got a great team that’s behind me that I put together so it’s not just all about me, it’s all about my team and the people that work with me and behind me that make up the success of HAH Enterprises. That’s whats up man. So how many people do you have working on your team right now?

Johnnie Cabbell: I have an office manager, I have 2 assistants, I have like 2 or 3 people that work for the marketing department. I have about a total between about 10-15. I do want to also want to shout and let everyone know about my non-profit organization that I have which is called Blessings In The Sky So that been in existence for the last year or two, the last that’s two years. I feel you man. So how did you get so well connected with all these artists in Atlanta? How did you decide that “booking would be a strong piece of the business I could work with”?

Johnnie Cabbell: To be honest with you, its funny how I fell into the business. I actually started off as an artist in the game to where as I was in a group called Ear Take. I used to get my singing on and do what I do. I did a lot of traveling before a lot of these groups came out like Jagged Edge, and 112, and your Bobby V’s and all that. That’s what opened up my eyes to see that I really, really need to know what going on, knowing what a contract and the breakdown of a contract, and know what publishing means and apart from royalties and different terms like that. As I started reading and getting educated myself I had some people who kind of pulled me to the side and put me up on game. I started getting a lot of hands on experience and I kind of found my niche. Like some people get high off different things, but I get high off seeing the success of others and knowing that I was the guy that was behind this person blowing up or this person reaching this status or reaching this level. That’s my high, that makes me feel good, that gives me a natural high. You mentioned you worked with Gucci and currently he is locked up. Do you have any plans with him when he gets out?

Johnnie Cabbell: Well you know it’s a very sensitive subject and so you know, I prefer to let it be what it is. Everyone who knows me and knows about Gucci, knows that I have been a big part behind his career as far as the road-wise to touring side of it. So when Gucci gets out, I mean, I don’t have any choice but to continue to do business with him because we have a lot of engagements we need to make up, and also take care of, so we will definitely be working together when he gets out. But I do have plans to continue working with him. I have a good relationship with him, he has a good relationship with me, its more than just making money, but we are friends. He’s my friend, we stay in the same neighborhood. So you’re from Zone 6 area?

Johnnie Cabbell: Well I’m not from the Zone 6, I grew up in Decatur. You mentioned that you are going to be doing some work with J Money and Fabo, can you tell us about what plans you may have for those artist’s careers? Johnnie

Johnnie Cabbell: A lot of people have been wondering where Fabo is and we actually launched a campaign called “Where the F is Fabo ?” You can fill in the gap, but he took some time off because he just had a baby and he wanted to spend some time with his son and watch him and see his son take his first steps and grow and get to age where he can start going to daycare and school everything. He’s been well, he’s done a lot of touring overseas and different country’s Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, Amsterdam, Japan. He really stays busy touring overseas and different parts of the country. But now he’s back and ready to re-introduce “The Geek”. He has a different approach to how his fans will perceive him and the average listener. We just dropped a mixtape called “Geek City”, so y’all need to be on the lookout, go ahead and download it. What about J Money? “First Name, Last Name” was hit in several parts of the country. Didn’t he change his name to J Futuristic?

Johnnie Cabbell: Yea J Futuristic because there were some mix-ups as far as the name and bout that name and who had it. I’ve been doing a lot of work as far as show. Shouts out to Bases Loaded Entertainment. That who he’s working with and as far as that, he’s out here grinding doing what he do and making it happen. But I have an artist called Supplier that just signed with Block Entertainment who is going to be a problem out here. I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with him and I am also very excited about my female rap artist that Im working with right now, that I personally manage and not just book for, she is my little niece and her name is Gloss. She’s putting in a lot of work and she’s having the opportunity to work with a lot of big artists out here we got a cut with Bobby V, Supplier, Shawty Lo, Fabo, Zaytoven, Fat Boy and Tamika Scott (formerly of Xcape) that I’m working with, and she’s coming out and doing her thing. One thing I was curious about in the booking world is what impact does Ticketmaster and Live Nation have on your business?

Johnnie Cabbell: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a competition thing, but it makes me know that if Jay-Z and Beyonce are performing at an area or arena I am going to strategize and try to book at different day and time. I definitely pay attention to companies like Live Nation and Ticketmaster; to my understanding Ticketmaster and Live Nation are coming together on some event or deal and have come together. But I keep my eyes on all that. As you think about the industry and your business what have you learned or what has this business taught you as you move forward in your other future entrepreneurial endeavors?

Johnnie Cabbell: It tough me to be careful with who I do business with, and all money is not good money. I just need to really watch out who my surroundings are around, and it definitely has brought me back down to really just having the humbleness and really having that true grind and passion for the game and just has made me really watch what I do and what I say and how I say it and knowing that, Its always someone looking at you when you think that its not. And there’s always someone paying attention. What I have learned is, I always have to be on top of my game and be on my P’s and q’s and just know someone is looking at me even when I they are not. I had some bumps and bruised throughout 2009, but overall it definitely a good year, but it definitely opened up my eyes and I am thankful for some of the things I go through good and bad. But, I try to learn from my mistakes. I try to learn from my encounters that I come across that are people that try to come against me and bring me down or team me down. I learn from it. I look at every situation and try to turn it from negative to a positive. So I want to give a shout out to my haters out there. I got to give a shout out to all my haters cause I definitely got a few haters out there. What is the biggest misconception of you?

Johnnie Cabbell: The biggest misconception about me is that I am just a person that’s out to rob somebody or take advantage of a situation or anything that’s going on. I feel people just go off what they hear and not just going off taking the time to talk or taking the time to go see like “You know what? Let me take a visit to see what kind of business they do at HAH Enterprises to get a true picture of the establishment. Let me take a minute to get in contact with Johnnie Cabbell or to people who have done business with Johnnie to get a true picture of who Johnnie is without doing business with them.“ People judge without getting to know a person or without doing business with them That’s what’s up man. I appreciate your openness with this interview.

Johnnie Cabbell: Yea no doubt Yea I do want to make sure, sometimes people get a little misconception about who I manage and who I do booking for. I manage Shawty Lo, Fabo, Crime Mob, D4L, Yung Ralph, Tamika Scott, Supplier, Gloss. Those are my artists those are the names I manage. Sometimes people say “Johnnie manages Gucci.” No, people say that because I handled the show business for him. But I book for Gucci, but I book for Wacka Flock, I book for Nicki Minaj. The different between booking and just doing a show, I handle all of their booking, I am their official booking agent.