Photo by Emilee Ramsier
Jacob York has a built a lucrative career as a serial entrepreneur. From a real estate developer to managing some of the biggest names in entertainment. Jacob launched Jacob York Presents (JYP) in 1993. Little did Jacob know the local New York promotional company years later would go on to host events for some of the biggest names in entertainment including Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Puff Daddy and more.
While in New York, as the music industry boomed and Jacob rubbed shoulders with the right industry execs, the young entrepreneur saw an opportunity for his next business venture: York Entertainment. Jacob along with his older brother, went on to sign local acts around the city, receiving positive acclaim from critics.
His next venture was a collaboration with childhood friend, Lance “Un” Rivera and then-local rap artist Biggie Smalls. All three signed a major deal with Atlantic Records and created Undeas Entertainment in 1994.
York went on to work as a consultant for six of the biggest record companies, and in 2001, relocated to Atlanta, GA to seek fresh, new talent. During a six year span from 2001-2007, York was either responsible for or involved in 85% of the music deals made in Atlanta.
In addition to his success in music and events, York chose to tap back into his first passion: film and television. For Jacob, this most recent business venture is 25 years in the making. Electric Republic is a concept that came to Jacob at the age of 15– in the very first days of the ‘Digital Age.’ Now, keeping up with the current nature of our digital culture. In 2015, Electric Republic produced their first theatrical release, ‘Brotherly Love’ starring Keke Palmer, Cory Hardrict and Romeo Miller. Electric Republic is a true, digital republic; for the people, by the people that manages individuals who have the ability to do more than just sing or act, but become icons and walking brands.
Photos by A Turner Archives
Check out the ‘Brotherly Love’ trailer below!
AllHipHop recently sat down with Jacob York to discuss ‘Brotherly Love’ and his career longevity in the entertainment realm.
What inspired your transition into film?
It was a natural transition coming from the music industry. My parents were movie buffs and I always had a passion for films. After a long conversation with my ex- business partner Lance Un Rivera who transitioned to film…he inspired me to join the movement. So I studied the film industry for years to understand fully how it works and now I am ready to build my longtime dream of an Electric Republic, which happens to be the name of the productions company.
What about the film’s script was inspiring to you?
I grew up with movies like, “Do the Right Thing”, “Cooley High”, and “Love and Basketball” and I felt like there was nothing being made for this millennial generation. When I read the script I knew I had to make it.
What was the business and creative process of Brotherly Love?
I have a friend named Charles Austin, aka Charlie Mack, who knew a writer named Jamal Hill. Hill was working on a script for the past 10 years. Mack knew I was seeking new scripts and was familiar with my previous works including “Percentage”, a movie I produced a movie two years ago. “Percentage” went straight to Netflix and BET. So he asked me to take a look at the script. I read it and, 24 hours later, I knew that I wanted to put up my own money do this movie.
What sets your film apart from other films that we have seen hit the big screen?
There are not that many millennial movies being made with substance and when viewers go to see this film they will appreciate the authentic feel “Brotherly Love” will give them and the message that is relevant to not only these millennials but for all generations.
The Jacob York empire keeps growing and growing…from music to film. What other ventures can we expect from you?
We are expanding into all regions of media. It is going to be a lot more movies, a lot more television, a lot more media and digital properties. We have a lot of projects coming down the pipeline. Electric Republic is 25 years in the making and it is still evolving.
Is the music business much like the business of film or are they literally two different worlds/realms?
There is liberalization to music where Hollywood tends to be less liberal. In Hollywood, it’s very seldom that you will get an urban movie that does the same numbers as a non-urban movie. However, in music, Hip Hop can be number one. Lil’ Wayne can out sell Cold Play.
It’s an uphill battle, but there is always a positive. Just like the music industry, there is an alternative to the machine. Therefore, we chose to produce and distribute “Brotherly Love” ourselves. We said, ok Hollywood, you don’t get it. We’re not mad that you don’t get it. We are going to do it ourselves. In Hollywood there has never been an African-American in charge of a studio. In music, there has been a bunch of them.
Why should people see the film?
People should see the film if they enjoy good content. This film tackles all of your emotions and will leave you shocked at the end. I call that the perfect formula for a great time and experience.
Talk to us about the cast selection?
Keke Palmer came as a result of Shakim. Corey Hardict and Eric Hill came as a result of Kim Harden, the casting director. What most people would find interesting is that Keke Palmer went against her agent who advised her against the indie black film. She felt like this story needed to be told. All of the producers were blown away with Cory Hardrict’s reading.
How important is it to go forward and make sure our own stories are told instead of waiting on Hollywood to tell them?
I feel everyone has their own interest in what they want to make. I have nieces and nephews that I have to think about and I want to create content that they can be proud of and will last for generations to come.
What’s the biggest challenge about producing and putting out an indie black film?
Selling the content…not producing it.
What was the most difficult part of production?
It was very difficult. We were challenged with getting through 21 days of shooting successfully and shopping the project to Hollywood. From day one, we experienced a lot of challenges on site. Anything that could go wrong went wrong… from the lights and toilets breaking to the generators blowing out to not having enough trailers. Revisiting the first day of filming at Overbrook High school; a campus of 2,000+ was open and the students were interrupting filming. In addition, we had a micro budget (anything under $10,000,000 in Hollywood)…therefore sourcing all of our relationships to get the movie on the screen was critical.
Will this be revered as an urban film classic?
I would like to think so.
With your longevity and experience in the music business what’s been most disappointing or surprising in the shift in the business?
The biggest disappointments are executives blaming the music for the decline in the business and not the approach in marketing strategy as the cause for the shift.