Art, Beats + Lyrics’ – Jabari Graham

With the kind of work I do (not to mention coming from a family of entrepreneurs), I’m always interested in the inner workings of brands, creatives, or the “behind the scenes” development and coordination of events, so with Art, Beats + Lyrics in town I got a chance to catch up with the man behind the exhibition – Jabari Graham.

What’s your name and what do you do?

Jabari Graham.  I’m pretty much a creative guy, I have cool ideas, I  get a kick out of them watching them come to life, how it effects others and getting paid from them.

Growing up, what kinds of art and or creative work were you into?

I drew a little, but that went away when the Nintendo came out.  But I still stayed fascinated by art and music.

When you were younger, were you creatively inclined?  If so, what mediums were you into?  What mediums are you currently into?

My mediums were different compared to an artist.  I just tried to find ways to make money: collected and sold baseball cards, comic books, rented my video games out to friends and sold candy in junior high school.

Give me some history behind Art, Beats + Lyrics.  What motivated you to create it and how long have you been producing the exhibition?

I got laid off when I created AB+L.  At the unemployment office in Decatur, GA. they used to stay playing Les Brown inspirational tapes on repeat.  One thing I got from it was he mentioned during this time of unemployment, “You can either find a job, or create a job.”  I decided to create a job.  I didn’t have anything to loose.  It’s been going on for 8 years now. “Give Thanks.”

Early on, what was AB+L like?  Describe the first show?  Has the exhibition evolved much from its roots?

Early it was a hustle – put a plan together, find artists, a venue, market and promote it.  It kept me busy.  I never worried about money or cost.  It just fell into place and others believed in me and the product, so with good relationships help was abundant. The 1st show was organic.  Friends, family, community and press held me down.  They truly witnessed the evolution of where AB+L is today.

What’s your process for selecting artists – both performance and visual?

Nothing too tough.  Artists – visual and musically come from either recommendation, they email me or I research them.

How did you team up with Dubelyoo and what’s it like working with such an esteemed artist?

Dub and I met during my 1st show.  He is a great artist who overstands the artistry, marketing and business – an awesome combination.  Working with Dub has been Kool as a fan.  I’m not an artist so it’s cool to have a partner to consult with to get the artist side of things.

How did Jack Daniels get involved?

Jack got involved through Images USA, an ad agency in Atlanta.  At the time Jack Daniels was looking for a program to reach a cool audience, not so mainstream, but an identity that can carry itself and relate to others in different cities, while at the same time brand the product.  In addition, we learned that Jack Daniels (the man) was an art and music enthusiast, so it wasn’t a bad fit.

What are some of the markets AB+L has reached?  Are there any standouts/favorites?  Are there any markets that you’re interested in hitting?  If so which ones?

Atlanta, Birmingham, Baltimore, Jackson, MS, Charlotte, St. Louis, and Houston.  Some of these markets we visited twice.  Jackson, MS stood out for me the best.  I graduated from Jackson State University so it was always good to go back and bring my creation and get my school involved and invited my professors and college friends.  That shit was dope!  I def want hit up NYC, LA and go abroad.

What kind of impact are you looking to impart with each event?

I just want to change people’s perception about art, spark others to create their own movement, have a good time, drink some Jack Daniels and fellowship.

Can you describe the feeling you get when you watch something you dreamed of come to fruition?

It’s a natural high.  Addictive; you keep wanting more & more…

Talk about the evolution of AB+L.  Do you have any plans of expanding the general concept of it (i.e. TV, product, gallery-space, educational programming, shows overseas, etc…)?

Yes I have a couple plans, but I can’t show my cards.

With every great event there’s a crew behind it.  Can you talk a bit about your production team?

First, there is Dubelyoo who is my right hand man.  The good folks at Images USA: Joan Villas, Ahmad Abdul Ali and their whole staff.  Mr. and Mrs. Abdul Ali; they hold us down, team mom and pops, AC White Moving Systems (responsible for moving the exhibit), and the whole crew in Atlanta – from Team Mad Clout to Jen Farris/Saxon Hutchins to all the bands, DJs and ESPECIALLY the artists who got down with us.

For more info about Arts, Beats + Lyrics go to


About gmoney77

My name is Gerald Watson and I do lifestyle marketing for various companies/agencies. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the people I work with, the work I do as well as the shit I see on the regular.

Posted on March 26, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Your entire article, “Art, Beats + Lyrics – Jabari
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