James “J” Prince, the founder and CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records and the driving force behind rap superstar Drake, sat down for an interview with ET to discuss his new book, “The Art & Science Of Respect: A Memoir.” Prince talked about how his upbringing in the streets of Houston helped cultivate him into a corporate leader in many different realms of entertainment, including music and boxing.
Prince has been winning in silence for many years and has influenced many hip-hop greats like Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. His management firm, Prince Boxing, even managed Floyd Mayweather earlier in his boxing career. He said he wrote the book to lead by example. He stated, “I wanted to be a voice, beginning with ghettos all over the world, a voice to those that dream big and have little resources. I wanted to be one who fertilized the seeds of those dreamers.”
He continued, “In the hood where I’m from (the 5th ward of Houston), I had the opportunity to mingle and socialize with a lot of colorful personalities. I was able to bring a lot of things that I learned from the hood into corporate America, and I guess use it from a different angle, from a different point of view. That gift is what set me apart.”
For his memoir, he tapped none other than Drizzy to write the forward and shared that he made him realize some things while writing his story. Prince said Drake thought the opportunity was an honor but also noticed that he had been picking up on things from his mentor that he never would have known. “Drake took me down memory lane to some things I didn’t know he was paying attention to. He was watching and observing everything and for him to make a statement that he wanted to do for Toronto what I had done for Houston — it truly really meant a lot to me.” And we all know Drake has done a lot for his hometown of Toronto. The city of Houston has celebrated the official “James Prince Day” every year, thanking him for the recreation center he built and the work he has done in education and testing for HIV/AIDS in the black community over the last 20 years.
And throughout all of the years of success Prince has seen, he did admit to one mistake…passing on the young girl group, #DestinysChild. He said, “Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s dad, and another woman who was managing Destiny’s Child at the time wanted me to be involved in their beginning stages. I had to turn that down because I didn’t want kids around the gangster movement I was putting together with my hip-hop artists. I was in a different frame of mind as a young 20-something-year-old than I am now, but I am extremely happy of the road to success they have taken and everything they have accomplished.”
We may make mistakes, but God doesn’t!