EXCLUSIVE: Venita McCollum Discusses Her Insightful New Book “Raising A Rapper” & Partnering With Her Son Lil Yachty
As the fields of music and entertainment continue to evolve, author Venita McCollum’s all-new book “Raising A Rapper” serves as an authentic guide to finding success in the ever-expanding industry. Available now, McCollum’s self-published book shares her unique journey raising her son Lil Yachty while providing insight, strategies, and helpful tips from a parent pursuing the entertainment industry. Through McCollum’s unique experiences, “Raising A Rapper” is able to connect with all parents raising children who aspire to succeed in the unique careers that are presented in today’s world.
Creating “Raising A Rapper” has provided McCollum the ability to spread the knowledge of navigating the industry and the challenges it can present. Featuring a foreword from Yachty, born Miles McCollum, “Raising A Rapper” details the experience and wisdom McCollum has gained from working alongside her son. Revealing the truth behind her real-life journey, the successful entrepreneur and mentor tackles a wide-variety of topics that highlight important elements to building in the industry ranging from finances and deal-making to parental support, lifestyle, and longevity.
Aside from educating readers, McCollum’s new guide aims to inspire creatives and motivate parents to go out and support their children’s dreams. When speaking with our team at KC, McCollum describes “Raising A Rapper” as “a guide for parents, writers, artists, producers, YouTubers and all kids or individuals that are exploring different careers.” She further explains, “These rules apply to any young or old person that is doing non-traditional work today.” Beyond the pages, “Raising A Rapper” also extends into a full platform for readers with a podcast and web series.
Venita McCollum took the time to participate in a special interview with our team at Karen Civil! In our interview, McCollum further discusses “Raising A Rapper” as she shares her thoughts on her new release.
What would you say first motivated you to create “Raising A Rapper?”
“I felt that we had a very unique story. I was all for Miles going to Alabama State, especially an HBCU because that was the route that I had taken. I was looking forward to him following in my steps, but unbeknownst to me, I was pushing my dreams on him and not listening to his dreams. So after he decided to leave school and followed his dreams to become such a big success, I wanted to share that journey with other moms because I knew if I was going through that, there had to be other parents out there who were pushing their kids towards a college education, even though that wasn’t the direction that they wanted to go in. I wanted to be able to assist those parents, share my story, and to let them know that they aren’t going through this by themselves.”
What was the process and timeline like for you to create “Raising A Rapper?”
“The first portion of the book is just our story, which was just a matter of writing our story down from beginning to end. Then, I wanted to focus on a couple of key points in the industry that I thought would be beneficial to other parents. So really it was just putting it down on paper. I started writing and putting the book together the moment he started to become famous, but I did not decide to self-publish it until about three years after. I kind of had it sitting around on my desk, but then I met Coach Stormy [Stormy Wellington] and she directed me to some other authors who helped me wrap it up and get it out the door.”
How can your book serve as a guide for parents who face financial struggles but are raising young people in pursuit of a creative career?
“I like to focus on the craft. You have to continue to just put your craft out there. Yes it is going to take some funds, however, you need to just keep putting your music out there and you need to be patient. In the book, I talk about when it is time for you to plan for an attorney. There are ways around paying an attorney; you can negotiate different avenues and services from your attorney, which is another reason why I wanted to write the book. There are people out there taking advantage of young people that are trying to get into this career, but I don’t want people to be discouraged if you don’t come from a certain class. Even if you come from poverty, you can’t be discouraged. You have to keep pushing and that’s where the inspirational part comes from. You have to believe in you when no one else believes in you. You gotta keep putting your craft out there, but most importantly, you have to be patient.”
“Miles has a very good story, but it’s not a story that you are going to hear a lot. It just doesn’t happen overnight like that. I think timing is everything and with the book, I wanted to inform young people that it’s going to happen and if you believe in it, you can make it happen. You also need to realize if you are barking up the wrong tree. You may be trying to be a rapper, but rapping may not be the thing for you. Everybody may not be a successful rapper, but maybe you need to be a comedian or a manager. This journey is also about identifying where you fall in because I think a lot of times kids just say, “Oh, I want to be a rapper,” and they’re horrible at it. A lot of this journey is identifying what you are good at.”
How has being with Yachty on his journey impacted you personally and professionally?
“Personally, it’s made me aware of a lot of things that I did not know. I’ve been so educated just by trial and error, by making mistakes, by meeting people, by talking to people. So it’s really educated me on the industry as well as people in general. I’ve learned a lot about myself. It has made a big impact and made me realize a lot of things that I did not know. It’s opened up my eyes and I think it has made me more creative. It has really changed my life, totally.
Professionally, it has changed my life as well because I came from corporate America, which was more of a 9 to 5 and straightforward kind of career. The music industry is very much the opposite so I had to adapt and get used to dealing with the entertainment field. It’s totally different than corporate America because a lot of people are laid back and it’s a lot more forgiving. I love it though because I work for my son so it makes it a little more flexible, but I can use my creativity. I was also able to start my own brand off of my son’s success and that’s what I preach to a lot of other parents in the industry; if you’re leaving your professional career and you are going to manage or be involved in your child’s career, then you should pull and be able to capitalize off of it. Work together. Miles and I work together; he supports me and I support him.”
Where do you hope “Raising A Rapper” takes you and your team in the near future?
“I really want it to be huge. And when I say that, I mean I really want to see an educational device. Soon, you’re going to see “Raising A Rapper” high school edition as well as for university. These are platforms that will help the child that is saying, “I want to be a rapper” or “I want to be a producer,” but has no idea what’s involved in it or how to even start in that career. I want to create a learning place where they can go and mix their music, go to a studio, talk to a real producer, learn about merchandise in the management industry, and to even be able to be a part of it all. I want to create a very strong platform that will educate kids on what to do to get to the fame and the fortune. At least give them options because no one is out there giving them options until after the winning is involved. I want to teach them, bring in other people who have made mistakes, put celebrities in front of them that had it all, lost it all, and gained it all again. I want to make available what is currently not available to them.”
How do you believe the book will leave an emotional impact on readers?
“I’m hoping that they feel inspired, informed, and educated. I want them to go to the book, read it, and be inspired by our story. If they are raising kids that want to leave high school or college to enter one of these industries, or if they want to get into the industry at a late age, we want to let them know that they can do it. If it happened for us, it will happen for them. I want them to be informed so they know what to expect once they get out there. They need to know that they need good people on their team and not just people who are their friends. I want them to have all the information that they could possibly have available to them. To know that you don’t have to pay a lawyer thousands and thousands of dollars, to know that you need to put some money away for a rainy day and to know that all money is not good money.”
Feature Image via Hip Hop DX