Def Jam legends Bill Adler and Cey Adams rolled through MMAP (Mural Music & Arts Project) in East Palo Alto on February 8, 2012, to share their experiences and advice to a room full of aspiring young artists. Bill Adler and Cey Adams are known for their pioneering careers at what has been called “the last great record label,” aka Def Jam. Most recently, they collaborated on a book project titled “Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label,” which showcases many of the great artists that have come through Def Jam, past and present.
Bill and Cey were welcomed by the Jazz and Funk-infused rhythms of the live instrumental band “H2O” as they walked through the vibrant mural-covered house on the edge of Euclid Ave in East Palo Alto. The Mural Music and Arts Project, affectionately known as MMAP, is an organization dedicated “to educate, empower and inspire youth through the arts.” After a tour of the 3-story “art machine,” Bill and Cey became apart of the audience as the lyricists and dancers from the History Through Hip-Hop Program demanded the attention of everyone in the room. Showing no signs of bad nerves, the teen artists spit bar after bar in a mini cypher in front of two men who have worked with the likes of LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. The only female MC in the program left Cey in awe, as he compared her presence and lyrical style to a young Queen Latifah.
The energy in the room was infectious. The pulse of the beats could be felt throughout the house as everyone bobbed their heads and clapped their hands to the music. After the last drumbeat died out and the wordsmiths took their seats, Bill and Cey took to the front to answer questions from the young aspiring artists. They spoke about working with Russell Simmons, how to create a brand for yourself as a musician, and building your creative team for marketing, production, and breaking into the business. The night ended with one question: “What advice would you give the young artists in the room?” Cey closed with an inspirational message of creating your own market and brand, and never taking no for an answer. In true Bill fashion, as all the eager faces looked at him, he smiled and said, “Do you!”