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How a Jacket Sparked an Epic Rise Through the Music Business This entrepreneur opens up about how a Def Jam jacket given to him by Russell Simmons inspired him to start his own company.

By Kevin Liles

This story appears in the July 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Kevin Liles

I went to college for engineering. The problem was, I'd also fallen in love with hip-hop. I was the rapper and manager in a group in high school, the Numarx. I was deal-making at 15. So while my body was in college, my soul was in hip-hop. One day I turned on MTV and saw Milli Vanilli playing a song I wrote when I was 16. The record company I'd signed to had stolen my rights. The song was "Girl You Know It's True." It sold 18 million copies.

Related: 4 Simple Strategies to Turn Your Passion Into a Paycheck

I sued and won, but that was the moment I decided I didn't want to be in the music business -- I wanted to be in the business of music. And I figured Def Jam was the best place to learn. So I called them. They offered me an unpaid internship. I took it.

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