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Rapper turned entrepreneur shares insights

Jamal Quinones
Abraham Zuniga, a math teacher at Bronx River High School, started teaching when Shawn Mims’ song, “This Is Why I’m Hot” was No. 1. Mr. Zuniga appreciated the practical advice Mims shared with students at the lunch conference in June.
Shawn Mims and two business associates, Ryan McDonnell, who ran street promotions for Mims during his early career, and Corey “CL” Llewelyn, who runs Digiwaxx, a music/tech company, shared insights on the music industry, technology and the importance of hard work. (Jamal Quinones)

Students couldn’t stop singing the hit song “This Is Why I’m Hot” by Mims in 2007, a year of raging parties and clubbing. Not only was it played at many raves, but people from all around couldn’t get the song out of their heads. Flying into the Bronx from Miami, Mims was able to give Bronx River High School a taste of what a rapper’s life is truly like.

The “party era” of the music industry featured songs at clubs and other social gatherings. This inspired him to drop his hit song “This Is Why I’m Hot”.

Shawn Mims, 43, shared the story of how he got into the music industry. He said that when he was 13 years of age. he was introduced to DJing, then introduced to production. He became a writer because he had no one who could write. When he first started off, he wasn’t properly educated on the business side of things,  causing him to lose a lot of money. He said the “music business is always separate from music creativity.”

Mims originally didn’t want to be a rapper but was “forced to because I understood music more than my peers.” He wanted to be a club owner originally to promote new music but later realized it’s too much responsibility.

Mims shares career advice with Miguel Wint, a senior who plans to study music production at York College. (Jamal Quinones)

However, Mims said that in the beginning, he didn’t understand how the industry worked. When he made his big hit, he only received a $30,000 check from the millions of dollars accumulated. “If there was anything I’d change, it’d be my education on music. With the music business, it’s separate from music theory. In that sense, I was scammed,” Mims says.

But now he’d like to focus on getting to better understand tech and its effects in order to get more listeners. Which is why he created an app (mostly to experiment with tech) in order to, “inspire other artists and spark creativity,” says Mims. “I wanted to give artists a chance at producing music without having to step in a studio,” he said. This app is available on cell phones for almost everyone to use. All in all, he wanted to give people who felt they couldn’t afford a studio a chance to still get their talent across.

Abraham Zuniga, a math teacher at Bronx River High School, remembers what it was like when the song came out. “That was actually my first year teaching,” he said. “Kids were so into the song and came into the classroom singing it. When I’d ask a question, they’d sing it if they got it right.”

“I liked the song, everyone did, Mr. Zuniga said. “I was going out to clubs and parties and it was played everywhere. I remember playing it on my Lincoln Navigator at the time.”

For Mr. Zuniga, music has changed a lot since then, especially rap. “The quality of music has gone down since. There’s no positive message in music anymore. Music has more of a detrimental effect on young adults than it did before,” he said.

“I’ve met quite a few celebrities before. I’ve met Jay-Z, Fat Joe, Alicia Keys, Cassie, and a few others, but meeting Mims today was unique,” Mr. Zuniga said. As a math teacher, Mr. Zuniga appreciates Mims’ knowledge of business. He was impressed by Mims’ connections between math, music and business. Additionally, Mr. Zuniga believes that this is a good influence on kids who want to pursue a career in music, as it shows the importance of education at the same time.

Corey Llewelyn, a business partner of Mims and the owner of a company called Digiwaxx, built the agency from the very beginning. “Technology allows you to do more. He also has strong opinions on what it takes to be successful. “It takes ambition and hard work, not just talent,” he says. “Work ethic and confidence are also very important because you need to be driven and dedicated to what you do,” he emphasizes. “The goals of Digiwaxx have continued to change over the years. This agency has helped to create so many stars like Mims, Polo G, Lil Tjay, and more,” Corey adds. A big part of Digiwaxx is to bring attention to the services provided.

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About the Contributors
Myess Hammouri
Myess Hammouri, Staff Writer and Illustrator
Myess Hammouri likes playing chess.
Jomayra Amparo
Jomayra Amparo, Columnist
Jomayra Amparo enjoys the rain, nature, and eating.
Jamal Quinones
Jamal Quinones, Photo Editor
Jamal Quinones has many talents that even surprise him. He is a writer, photographer, an athlete and is known as the  "The Rubik's Cube Master."

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