Dope Ent on Booking Rap Shows: "You Got to Pay to Play, and Education Don't Come Cheap"
Dope Ent's Matt Zingler (left) and Tariq Cherif (right), with the Bawse Ricky Ross.
For one reason or another, things never go as planned.
Just ask Dope Ent's Matt Zingler, 25, and his business partner, Tariq Cherif, 24.
Take, for example, this past weekend: Nipsey Hussle had just left the building after his performance at Avenue D in Miami. And unfortunately, Zingler was forced to tell fans, who'd paid extra for some face-time with the California rapper, that the scheduled meet-and-greet had been cancelled, informing them how to receive a refund and apologizing for the inconvenience.
Yet despite the inevitable meet-and-greet cancellations, subsequent refunds, and occasional apologies, Dope Ent's Zingler and Cherif have consistently delivered outstanding rap concerts with bold-name national acts such as Curren$y, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, A$AP Ferg, and others to South Florida, all beginning with their first booking, a 2010 afterparty with Rick Ross.
This Friday, Dope Ent will do it again, bringing L.A. rapper Dom Kennedy to Avenue D for his Get Home Safely tour. And in anticipation of that show, we here at Crossfade sat down with the two friends and business partners to talk about the early days, lessons learned, partying with Riff Raff, promotion companies charging opening acts, and what else is in their future.
Crossfade: How do you guys know each other?
Tariq Cherif: We met in fourth grade through a mutual friend.
How did everything come about with Dope Ent?
Matt Zingler: We were young entrepreneurs that got together a certain amount of money and wanted to start investing, and we knew there was money in throwing events. Our first event was in 2010 with Rick Ross in Tallahassee. That's how we kinda got into it. And then we started doing tours with Curren$y and just took it from there.
Tariq: The Rick Ross is actually a pretty good story about our company. We pretty much lost all the money we put down on that show. We flopped. It was an afterparty. Pretty much, it was competition with another afterparty that said they were having all the people from the concert and they didn't. They were false promoting. We were new to the game. As you can see, we don't do afterparties anymore. We lost all of our shit, lost all of our money, and we just got back on our grind and got some money up, booked Curren$y for three shows in early 2011, sold them out, and been rocking ever since. Matt's dad always likes to say, "A true measure of a man is not how he acts when he wins, but when he loses."
Matt: You got to pay to play, and in this industry, especially, education doesn't come cheap.
What was Ross' reaction?
Matt: Ross was happy.
Tariq: Ross is cool as shit.
Matt: He was smoking with us. We had twelve different kinds of bud that we had in different jars. It was like a High Times performance. It was like a smoke contest. That dude can smoke down.
Tariq: I remember we had a box full of Swisher Sweets. But you know what, he performed six to nine songs. We had some people there. It was an empty fucking club.
How do you pick yourselves up from a disaster like that?
Tariq: That night was so bad. And Matt got into a fight after the show at a place called Guthrie's, which is a late-night fried chicken spot. We had the limo rented for Rick Ross.
Matt: We just took the limo around, got some girls, got shit-faced. I got in a fight, ended up in a hospital. I got stitches in my face and woke up the next day.
I think the answer would be that, for us, it was very difficult for a while not having what we had prior. When I say that, I mean financially. And there was definitely some sacrifices that had to be made. All in all, it set us back, but we were pretty determined, and we knew what we wanted to do. We knew we'd be good at it.
Then you guys got Curren$y. And ever since then, with the exception of maybe once or twice, you are the ones that bring him to Miami. How did that relationship begin?
Tariq: Curren$y is just a cool dude, and his manager Mousa's a cool dude. We actually wanted to book Curren$y first, but the Rick Ross thing happened. But the relationship just stayed strong by doing good business together.
Matt: We built together. Same thing we did with Kendrick. We did a few days with Kendrick before he dropped his album, and he wore our hoodie in that Los Angeles Times photo shoot. For TDE, we toured all of their artists -- Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q -- before anybody else.