Given that Nas is my favorite rapper and that I follow him on Instagram, I stumbled upon one of his managers; Leslie Rosales. I was captivated by her for a few reasons; one being that she’s so well-respected in the music industry. The second being that she has a heart of gold. In addition to being a part of the team that manages multiple artists, she also gives back to the community. Leslie, along with other great souls, are attempting to end world hunger with their #HashtagLunchbag non-profit organization. Continue reading to learn more about the South Central, Los Angeles native.
How did your journey into the entertainment/music industry start?
Leslie: My journey in entertainment started in 2000. I was 15 when I started event promoting with the Coca-Cola Street Team, which eventually turned into 212 Enterprises. We hosted high school and college parties, fashion shows, and concerts for 6 years throughout Central and Southern California. In 2006, I started Dynasty Enterprises, which was the adult evolution of 212. As Dynasty, I promoted 21+ events all over Hollywood. At that same time, one of my best friends, Brian, started to DJ. So I took on the role of being his manager. I would get him to spin at the clubs/events that I promoted. After a couple of years of grinding, hard work and patience, he became one of LA’s hottest dj’s, DJ BAD.
My first step into the music industry was an internship for Warner Brothers’ Urban Music Department in 2004. I worked under Craig Baylis and Troy Marshall working on marketing for BME Records (Lil’ Jon, Trillville, & Lil’ Scrappy). Back then Crunk Music was on FIRE, so it was exciting to be involved with a sound that everyone was listening to. I remember being at the office and hearing the hooks to “Neva Eva”, “Some Cut”, and “Head Bussa” for the first time and thinking, “Oh, it’s going to be an interesting summer!”
My full entrance into the music industry was in 2008, when I became the first W-9 paid employee of Emagen Entertainment Group, an artist management firm that 5 of my friends and I started. Our first clients were J Myers and Nas. Between 2009-2014 we worked with Mulatto, Miguel, Fisticuffs, and Nylo. Currently Emagen’s roster includes Nas, Future, Alina Baraz, DJ BAD, and Cadillac’s in Space. For a year in 2010, I joined Atom Factory Inc. and was part of the management teams for Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton, Greyson Chance and Mindless Behavior.
At this point, I’m 15 years into entertainment and 7 years into the music industry but I feel like I’m just getting started. There’s so much more that I plan to do.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone trying to make it in this industry?
Leslie: I have a few pieces of advice…. Be patient but don’t waste time. Push yourself to your absolute highest potential. Aim for longevity. After every failure get back up and keep going. Stay Hungry & Humble. Be prepared for EVERYTHING. No job should be too big or too small for you. Loyalty goes a long way. Every move you make doesn’t have to be on social media. Listen more than you speak. Pray about it. Make yourself an asset not a liability.
What’s it like to be a woman in a male-driven industry?
Leslie: In the beginning I thought it would be a challenge; I was a young 23-year-old amongst grown ass men. I never wanted to look like just another chick in the studio or like a groupie hanging around. So I didn’t act or look like I was one, I played my part. I presented myself as a lady; stayed focused on work, dressed appropriately, and was about my business. My crew has helped with this, too. I am the only female in our crew, so the guys will introduce me to everyone who comes through to make it known that I am someone they should know. I’ve earned my spot, and everyone respects it.
What has been the best advice you’ve received and from who?
Leslie: Some of the best advice that I’ve received throughout my journey has come from my colleague, Anthony Saleh. He’s the CEO of Emagen, and is the person who brought me into this industry. He’s dropped some gems on me, but what has stuck with me the longest is “Stay H&H… hungry and humble”.
Leslie: There have been so many memorable events in my career, from working on Lady Gaga’s HBO Special while it was filmed at the historic MSG in New York, to being on the 50 Yard line with Toni Braxton as she sang the National Anthem at a Jets game. But my best memories come from working with Nas. I’ve been working with him for 7 years, so you can imagine how many epic moments I’ve had with him. The most memorable event in my career is actually a simple one. July 2012, a week before Nas’ “Life is Good” album came out. I received hard copies of the album, opened up the booklet and saw my name in the liner notes; Management Coordination: Leslie Rosales. That was a dope moment; to see my name and career in tangible form. Fast-forward 5 months later, when the album was nominated for 3 Grammys including “Rap Album of the Year”. That moment was the icing on the cake!
Leslie: Working with Nas has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’ve learned so much from and with him about the music industry, business, and life in general. He’s such a chill, smart and positive person who wants the best for everyone. Our entire team has those same characteristics, which is why the dynamic between all of us fits so perfectly. We’ve become a tight knit family.
Quite often, I forget who he is in the eye of the public. To me, he’s Nasir Jones, my big bro. Sometimes I’ll wander into the audience at one of his shows. I would feel the intense energy of the crowd, and see the way they look at him and how they recite his lyrics as he performs. It’s then when I’m reminded, “Oh yeah… He’s Nas.”
What do you think are some misconceptions of the industry?
Leslie: I think the biggest misconception is that it’s the easiest job in the world because all we do is party. If you look through my IG it does seem that way, but there’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes. Not everyone sees the hundreds of emails that I read and respond to daily. Or the back-to-back conference calls and meetings, making deadlines, fires that I have to put out, late nights in studios, putting tours together, and making sure the artist is happy. The travelling we do is fun, but don’t forget it’s work. We spend a lot of time away from home, our families, and friends. It’s a 24-hour job that involves a lot of money and people’s careers, so the pressure is on. But it’s absolutely worth it! We party hard, but because we work so much harder.
Anthony once told me, “There are more heart surgeons in the world, than there are people who do what we do.” He’s right. It takes a special kind of person to take on this job.
Was there ever a point that you felt like quitting? If so, what kept you going?
Leslie: Yes, there was. I was the day-to-day for an artist that we had stopped working with. For a while I felt like it was my fault that it didn’t work out because I wasn’t a good enough manager. Instead of quitting, I took that experience as a learning tool and adjusted myself to be better than I was. I became more attentive and on top of everything that I’m responsible for. I haven’t lost another client since.
Where does your passion of helping end homelessness stem from?
Leslie: My passion for helping all people, not just the homeless, stems from people helping me in my life. Throughout my 30 years of living, I’ve been blessed with a helpful mother, family, friends, teachers and mentors. I feel like it’s only right for me to pay it forward.
LA has a huge population of homelessness, and it seems like our city officials aren’t doing enough to help it. I’ve been to Skid Row several times and have heard stories of how people ended up there. Not every homeless person is a drug addict or crazy person, that’s the biggest misconception of homelessness. There are a handful of people who have fallen into hard times, whether they lost their job, or lost their home and have no where else to go. When my friend, Ajay Relan, told me about his movement called #HashtagLunchBag, I was all in!
Can you tell me a little bit more about HTLB?
Leslie: #HashtagLunchbag is a non-profit and our goal is to eliminate hunger across the globe, one lunch bag at a time. So every month, a group of volunteers converge into one venue and make lunches. In every lunch bag you’ll find a sandwich, bottled water, fruit, a cookie, and a kind note. After we assemble these lunch bags, we hit the streets and distribute them to the homeless. #HashtagLunchbag is a little over 2 years old, and through social media, has grown into over 100 cities across the globe. Not only do we pass out lunches, but we also spread love and positivity.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What else do you want to accomplish?
Leslie: As far as career, I’m not worried about where I’ll end up in the industry. I trust that I have an amazing and successful future ahead of me. The opportunities that I’ve been presented with are endless and exciting. I’m 30, so I’m still considered a baby in the game. I still have a lot of time to make plenty of moves.
With #HashtagLunchbag, I hope that we majorly impact the world and help eliminate world hunger. Through the spread of love and compassion, it’s very possible.
By 2020, I do see myself married with children. Quite often I hear that it’s hard for women in the industry to have both, a great career with a happy family. But I think it’s possible, and I want to prove that it is.
Leslie was born in Los Angeles, raised in South Central LA. Her parents are from the Philippines.