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tangent Rap mogul spits advice for the hip-hop generation

By Patrick Kampert

Chicago Tribune

Like the rappers whose careers he championed, Kevin Liles rose up from the streets of West Baltimore to become a millionaire and the president and CEO of Def Jam Records.

In "Make It Happen: The Hip-Hop Generation Guide to Success" (Atria/Simon &; Schuster, $24), he offers a lively and compelling story of his life and business philosophy.

Each of the chapters covers one of Liles' 10 rules for "Making It Happen," like "Find Your Will," "Walk This Way" and "Flex Purpose, Not Power." He is one sharp dude, mixing quotes from French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and business guru Jim Collins ("Good to Great") with pithy, insightful rhymes from Jay-Z and Kanye West.

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Liles' tenacious rise from intern to CEO was fueled by hard work, team spirit and sacrifice. But one of the costs of his success was a divorce and little time with his children. That topic is mentioned in passing, but perhaps it should have been a longer cautionary passage.

Business is personal: "Jobs are here today and gone tomorrow. But it's the relationships you build and the respect you earn from colleagues, friends and associates that stay with you."

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