Hovain - The Man Behind The Management

Updated: Aug 18, 2019

Oh, to be young, black and faithful. It isn’t easy navigating this world that is clearly against us, but conversations with the likes of Hip Hop veteran Hovain surely give an enormous amount of hope. For this talk, it wasn’t about who he manages, the network he has, and his takes on the industry. Well, not entirely. I wanted to get to know Hovain the man, the father, the husband. I wanted his takes on interpersonal relationships, accountability, and how he gauges business relationships based on conduct within one’s personal life.

Armon: From what I understand, you’re currently married with children, correct? How did you meet your wife?

Hovain: Yes, I wanna say it was 12-13 years ago. She was working at Bergdorf Goodman.

From that, my understanding is that she’s not in the music industry. Often a lot of artists, managers or people working within the industry advise people in it to date outside of it. What are your thoughts on it?

I mean, I think it’s to each his own. Let’s say I didn’t work in music, but was a chef. That would be cool to date another chef, know what they’re going through. “The price of avocados is crazy!” Stuff is relatable. As far as functionality of a relationship or time-wise, because I know I be on the road a lot, so I can’t imagine having a spouse who was gone equally as much. That would be fuckin’ nuts.

Did you two have any difficulties at first adjusting to the fact that you travel a lot?

A little bit. She’s also an entrepreneur. She owns a hair salon, and they keep weird long hours. So that was a little bit of a thing. Right now it just so happens we’re both in LA, she came out here to do hair for four artists for the BET Awards. I came out here to work, so us both being out here gave us time to kick it. That’s good, but I can’t imagine her being a manager. Being gone and on the road. We’d never see each other.

What’s the longest you two have gone without seeing each other?

Maybe a month, month and a half. Oh no, I’m lying. I was gone for three months two years ago.

I can understand why that would be tough.

I felt like I didn’t have a family. Almost like jail, just pictures.

How old are your kids?

8 and 6. Two girls.

Beautiful. Good segue way. I feel like Hip Hop has always had this thing where certain rappers have felt resentful or jaded toward their fathers and as of late we’ve seen a lot more artists put out proudly that their fathers. 6LACK always has his daughter all over Instagram.

Yeah man, it’s beautiful. A lot of us grew up without fathers, so that’s one. You’re in a fast pace life, so you leave kids with mom while out making money then come home when you can. New age dads are figuring out balance. They bring their kids with them on the road, or fly home for a day or two instead of being in the studio all day. You gotta understand, Hip Hop is only 45-50 years old. This hasn’t been done before. It’s all new and there’s no blueprint. I can’t go to someone in the game and ask how they did this because they might really not know how they made it. This generation right now, those 20-40, this is all new.

For you personally, do you take into account how someone manages their family and personal lives when deciding if you’ll do business with them?

Oh yeah, if someone is a deadbeat and don’t take care of their kids then I won’t fuck with you. I won’t even be your friend. I can’t fuck with someone like that. If you treat your mother like shit, imagine how you’d treat me? As a manager, you don’t try to interject yourself into people’s family business but as time goes on you become part of their family. So if you have serious character flaws with your children or family, I’d be stupid not to think you’d do that to me. Backstabbing a brother, fuckin’ over someone. Why wouldn’t you do that to me? You’ve got to look for the warning signs, which are how someone is with their family, mother, kids. That’s a telltale sign.

What do you think, as black men in 2019, is the most important trait we should possess or aspire to possess?

There’s a couple. Financial freedom, mental wellness, physical wellness. Unity and an overall sense of togetherness. I preach that so much with my friends. I root for them because I want them to win as much as I want myself to win. Just being able to genuinely be happy for other people, be happy for yourself, and be in good mental standing. Get the mental help you need. Charlemagne always says to me in private that I make sure I’m doing good.

A lot of things Charlemagne says resonate with me. I’ve had a therapist the last three years and it’s paid dividends. Is that something you’ve looked into as well?

I’ve looked into it. Charlemagne is a good friend of mine so we talk all the time and he tells me to try it and I’ll love it. I just haven’t made the jump yet. I found one who was actually pretty good, and we spoke on the phone for a pre-screening. I just haven’t had the time to get with her. She said the first session has to be in person and then after that we got Skype because she does that with a lot of actors or people in the industry. I just haven’t been able to connect with her in person yet. She’s dope though. I’m definitely open it to it. I was a little reluctant at first, but I’m open to it at this point in time. Just got to do it.

I think all men tend to be reluctant at first. “Oh, I’m not weak minded, I don’t need that shit.” There’s a big stigma around it.

Man, if they want you to take care of your body you have to take care of your brain too. Your brain is a muscle. You brush your teeth and scrub your tongue, you’ve got to scrub your brain out. The brain goes through a lot.

That’s a really good way to put that.

People take care of everything else except for the important shit. I know the importance of it. We get told we’ve got to be so strong, rigid and tough but that’s why people go crazy or snap. Whatever the case may be.

One of my favorite songs of 2018 was 21 Savage and J. Cole’s “a lot”. Cole before he goes into his verse talks about how 21 had his kids in the studio.

That’s just the sign of him being a good nigga. Like he said, I knew. You in the studio working, and most niggas usually have women, weed, and liquor. All things that are cool and I partake in in moderation. For someone to have their kids there, it’s like “wow you’re there working and got the family with you.” Man, I see what you’re about. It’s like my previous answer, you can judge a lot about a person by how they are with their family.

How close do you let your daughters get to what you do? How much do you let them see of what you do?

They come to the office with me. If there’s a song I’m playing in the car I’ll let them listen to it. I finally let them get TicToc maybe a week ago. They’d been begging for it but you can’t monitor it so I didn’t like it. I really sat and went through it then put it on their iPads. I keep them as involved as possible. They meet artists.

Would you be happy if they woke up one day and said “Hey, I wanna rap/sing”?

I wouldn’t necessarily be happy or sad. I’d be supportive in whatever they want to do.

We at FBMA talk a lot about relationships and how black men operate, but especially how black men are seen in conducting relationships. Being a man who has achieved what you have, a lot of people would let that get to their heads and sometimes having an ego can ruin a relationship. So how do you keep yourself humble and maintain the good relationship that you have with your wife?

I truly believe that I’m me more so than I am a person who works in the industry. A lot of times people work in the industry, that becomes who they are. That becomes their personality. I still have the same friends I grew up with. I still go hang out with my old community. I might do something that people deem amazing but I still go back. I’m just as content hanging with a person I grew up with. My job isn’t me.

If I was a butcher, I wouldn’t be talking to you about cutting some meat while I’m not at work. I do that shit at work. Work is work. I try to keep everything else the same. Like alright cool I might be at the Roc Nation brunch, but that shit doesn’t come home with me. I’m a father, a good son, a good husband. I leave that shit where it is. I don’t buy into my hype. That’s the number one thing. People start thinking they’re the artist so they start thinking they’re responsible for all the success. You don’t let praise go to your head, and you don’t let hate go to your heart.

That’s deep. That’s something that I definitely try to live by pretty frequently, it’s key.

Man, some people act is if they’re the star.

Lots of managers.

I manage stars, I work with stars, but I’m not the star.

A lot of people consider, or rather treat Hip Hop like it’s a young man’s game. What we find is that a lot of the older heads are the ones who got sharper lyrically, sharper with business, just sharper in general. So what’s something you would tell your younger self in getting into this industry, now looking back at what you’ve experienced?

Shit, there’s a couple things. Everything happens in due time. Try to have better patience. Humility. Work on that. Having humility goes a long way. I think when people meet me they usually tend to have an idea of how they think music people or I would be acting. I’m the total opposite. Humility gets me in doors that ego won’t.

How often do you take time for yourself to just enjoy life and not be running around working? How often do you just get to relax?

Not as often as I would like to or I should. I try to steal a day a week or something but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I’m cognizant of it. I know I should be. That’s part of the solution. At least knowing that you should be. So when the opportunity comes, if I could I try to take it. I still, if I have time, I’ll take my daughters to dance practice. I’ll make sure I hit the play or something like that. It’s not exactly my enjoyment, but I’m making sure I’m actively involved in their lives.

Are you thinking two is it? Have y’all considered another one?

I want a son, but if we go for it and I get another girl it’s a sign. I’m kinda good. Unless you’re going to get en vitro, guarantee it’s a boy, guarantee he’s left-handed, 6’10”…I’m cool.

I feel that, that’s what we all want.

Yeah, I’m cool. If it happens then great. If not, I’m cool either way. I was good with one, but I’m happy with two. Healthy and happy is best. I’m not actively trying to.

So I’m not sure if you watch the Joe Budden Podcast but he mentioned you on Saturday.

All the time. He always mentions me. Nah, me and Joe are real good friends. I’m cool with Mal and Rory too. I usually critique their show and I send them a lot of music. He always mentions me, somebody always hits me up like “Joe’s talking about you” yeah I know.

Just another Wednesday.

Yeah, that’s my guy. I know he was talking about Benny. I manage Conway and Westside. He gets me a lot of followers too whenever he mentions me. He’s a great guy though. I’m a big fan of people’s rebrand. I think him and his manager Ian are really, really smart people. His rebrand has been stellar to watch.

To go from major artist to independent artist to in a group to struggling artist to retired artist to what he’s doing in the media space now is dope. The fact he’s bringing the friends along with him, they’re all getting money and being creative. I think that’s dope. I think people don’t appreciate it because it’s Joe Budden. The rapper Joe Budden was just another guy who is a rapper to a lot of people. It’s like man, this is amazing. He really changed his trajectory.

Good segue way. With social media and the way black men have been marginalized for centuries, people have a really hard time looking at you as the person you are now as opposed to who you used to be and the mistakes you’ve made. We can go down the list but Joe, Chris Brown.

You know what it is man? People are comfortable with you when you’re failing or doing fucked up shit. It makes them feel better about themselves. “Oh, he’s not doing much better than me.” That’s on a people level. They like to keep you in that box. Media wise, they get paid to paint pain and tragedy. A feel good story is good every once in a while but they can’t market that every day.

Everything can’t be feel good and there’s no money in that. The money is in the tragedy and calling someone like Chris Brown a woman beater repeatedly. It benefits more to paint people that way and keep them there. It doesn’t give a young black boy the inspiration to be like this person.

The media paints a picture of brown and black people that they want society to subscribe to. You’ve got to not subscribe to that and have a sense of self worth. Have the ability to uplift people who are doing great things. I don’t make no money with Joe but I’m proud of him as a friend. I would sing his praises on any outlet because that’s what people need to see.

A lot of things unfortunately encounter people and their selfish ways of looking at situations. “I just wanna be lit, I want all the money.” Like it don’t cost you nothing to give somebody a compliment. The way we’ve been raised, it’s all me-me and selfish mentality.

I do agree there’s a lot of self-hate in our community. Meek touched on it on his last album. People hold each other and themselves back rather than supporting everyone’s success. We can all eat. There’s a large table out here.

There’s a lot of money out here man. Most people won’t band together and see that.

It’s upsetting but thankfully we have people like Meek and you who are in the industry preaching unity and coming together. It’s really what we need right now. They’re finding new ways every day to try and hold us back. I think it’s important for us to rise and show we’re stronger than all of that. For you, what’s something that you haven’t accomplished yet that you would like to?

A hundred million dollars. Hm, what else? That’s a good question. I have to think about it. I want to have an artist of mine be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I want to steer an artist’s career on the Chris Brown type route in terms of the success and longevity. A staple in the all-time history of music. That won’t happen until it’s all said and done. I was going to say a great legacy but you can’t have one now. It’s when it’s all said and done. Many years, God-willing.

On a personal level, is there anything health-wise? Or a country you haven’t travelled to?

I got to get to Greece. I got to get to Maldives and Fiji. There’s quite a few places on my bucket list. I wanna do the Anthony Bourdain traveling. Mad countries and check out star chefs. Get back in the gym, get healthier. I want my kids to experience the world the way I did in my 20’s while they’re in their early adolescence. Travel now and see the world a lot before they’re 14 and 15. I want them to be working on their second passport. They’re on their first but I want them on their second.

Where have they been so far?

Jamaica, Bahamas. We were trying to plan something for France but summer camp was trippin’. You can’t miss a certain amount of days, You pay for the summer camp, cool, but you can’t miss a certain amount of days or they’ll dismiss you from the camp. They wanted to go to Paris this summer. So yeah primarily the Caribbean and Cuba.

Alright so some nice ones so far.

Yeah it’s cool but I want more for them.

Of course, why settle? So, to close, being the Official FBMA we must knight you. If you had to give yourself a title within our esteemed group, whether that’s CFO, President, etc. which lets people know what you’re about what would it be?

I am the Faithful Black Men Head of A&R and Curator of Music and Culture.

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