Maverick music manager Cortez “Tez” Bryant will be the grand marshal for the Jackson State University homecoming parade when it kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 8-10 a.m. Bryant, a JSU alum, became one of the entertainment industry’s pre-eminent managers by identifying and igniting the potential of game-changing music outliers Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, G-Eazy, and others.
Bryant, who graduated with a bachelor’s in mass communications from the HBCU in ’01, was a member of the illustrious Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band. He was given a music scholarship by former Boom director Lewis Liddell and credits JSU and the band for the principles he utilizes today.
“Sonic Boom was like a family. I have two or three people who work with me now that came from the Sonic Boom family. It taught me a lot about being a leader and being disciplined. Those same values I learned in the Boom I use as a CEO and a boss and running my company. That foundation is the heartbeat of a lot of things that are happening with me now.”
In 2012, Bryant created a $500,000 music endowment at the HBCU, and in 2016 he served on the school’s notable alumni panel where he encouraged others to give back to the university.
When it comes to his “behind-the-scenes” success in the entertainment industry, Bryant says he always asks “’What separates an act from the pack?’ We try to find artists that fill voids within the world and bring them to the forefront. It’s usually the people and situations you’d never expect.”
Such is the case with Bryant’s longest client, five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning multiplatinum icon Lil Wayne who headlined last year’s homecoming concert. The two grew up together as best friends in New Orleans. As Wayne’s star began to rise, Bryant shuttled back and forth between shows on the weekend and classes at JSU during the week. By the time of his college graduation, the JSU alum had formally stepped into the role of Wayne’s manager, unassumingly founding Bryant Management.
With 2004’s platinum-certified Tha Carter, Lil Wayne commenced a legendary run that continues to this day. Classic albums Tha Carter II and Like Father, Like Son followed in between a storied series of mixtapes before he released his magnum opus, the triple-platinum Tha Carter III – which earned a staggering total of four GRAMMY® Awards and unanimous critical renown.
On the eve of Tha Carter III era, Bryant merged his company with entrepreneur Gee Roberson’s Hip Hop Since 1978 to create The Blueprint Group, where he is co-CEO. Simultaneously, Wayne and Bryant launched Young Money Entertainment, in partnership with Cash Money Records, as home to Drake, Nicki Minaj, and more.
“Wayne brought the names aboard, and then we vetted them out,” Bryant says. “It was about aligning with artists that have a similar work ethic to us because that’s what we both believe in the most. If you work hard, dividends will pay off.”
On September 27, 2018, Wayne finally released the highly-anticipated Carter V. It is the twelfth studio album from the New Orleans artist.
Throughout his career, Bryant has initiated high-profile deals with leading brands, including Samsung, Mountain Dew, Beats by Dre, Apartments.com, and more. Moreover, the industry consistently recognizes him as an innovator with placements on the cover of Billboard Magazine and regular spots on the prestigious Power 100, Urban Power Issue, and in the 40 Under 40 feature. Moreover, Complex lauded him as one of the “25 Most Powerful People in Rap.”
Ultimately, he not only brings talent into the spotlight, but he forges a lasting connection with audiences.
“The most rewarding thing is achieving goals that clients set for me and bringing them to another level of success,” he concludes. “When a fan comes up to me and tells me how much they appreciate an artist, it’s unbelievable. That’s one person whose life was changed by our hard work. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Catch Bryant, grand marshal of Jackson State University’s homecoming parade, on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 8-10 a.m. The parade will begin at the Prentiss Street roundabout near the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center and end at the corner of Dalton and Lynch Street.