Gaby Acevedo has been influencing culture for three decades: ‘We did our job overnight – there are no limits’
Being humble helps you in life.
GStarr Entertainment CEO Gabriel “Gaby” Acevedo has shaped the experience of beloved sounds around the world since his teenage street tag team promotions with Bronx-based record pool Buddha Inc. Coming from a family of educators, Acevedo learned the difference between creating music for recognition and existing as a product of hip-hop culture. For three decades, the RIAA-certified multi-platinum sales mogul exemplified the latter.
“My older brother was a DJ. He brought his turntables to the emergency exit, in the lobby of our building, or scraped music all over the neighborhood. When I got to high school, my brother and his friends started running a record pool in our living room. I started helping with their marketing after school. We were putting artist stickers in retail stores. Our team has also hung up posters for upcoming shows in the five boroughs,” he explained.
Eager to make his mother proud, Acevedo momentarily enrolled in college to continue the tradition of becoming an educator. By the end of his first year as a teaching assistant, the global hitmaker knew entrepreneurship was where his heart lay. He dropped out of school and joined his brother in handling rap artist branding and commercials. Yet every leader endures their fair share of adversity.
“We were one of the first crews to put promotional items on the highway. People were like, ‘Who made the Big Pun album?’ No one knew our faces, but that has changed,” the pioneer explained.
A the wall street journal The headline accused Acevedo’s brother’s company of vandalizing the city after a group was arrested for hanging LP banners. Despite these events, the result was lucrative, as Buddah Inc. became a go-to source for New York-based music campaigns and more. The rising magnate of the time took his talents on tour. At a camp, Acevedo met his mentor, Steve Rifkind.
Within two weeks of their introduction, Acevedo began handling select radio promotions for Rifkind’s Loud Records artists. In time, he was on the road overseeing national radio for the label’s full roster. After a long period of success, Rifkind sold the Loud. Other major labels began prospecting Acevedo with C-suite job offers, but loyalty kept him close to his first adviser. “Steve said to me, ‘I know a lot of people are calling you. It’s okay. I’m going to get back on my feet sooner rather than later. I said to him, ‘I’m going to hold on with you ‘,” the executive explained of his breakthrough moment.
After a year of strategy, the duo created SRC Records under Universal Music Group. Acevedo was both a partner in the firm and its president. Among a 5-man force, new signees were rocketed to stardom – including Akon with the platinum debut album, Difficulty. The premiere of hit singles like “Lonely” and “Locked Up” proved that Acevedo could spot and break talent.
“People immediately wondered if Akon was marketable to the general public. I was at home with a friend Casper. His uncle was the deputy director of Rikers Island. I asked if Akon could play for the inmates. The prison complex agreed but said ‘We won’t pay for it’ One of my business mantras is ‘Being humble helps you in life’ So our team ended up going to Rikers Island to perform for 4 shows,” confirmed Acevedo.
Afterwards, people started calling NYC radio station HOT 97 with requests to hear “Locked Up”. Akon’s first plaque came amid the rising musician’s state-to-state correctional facility tour and Styles P-assisted song remix. After that critically acclaimed success, others on David Banner’s Accreditedby Asher Roth Asleep in the bread aisleand Melanie Fiona MF life. Even so, the Nuyorican Bronxite never lost sight of his community.
Along with SRC’s growing international recognition came the bilingual word work of Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderón and Acevedo’s The Underdog/El Subestimado management credit. Being groomed in a Spanglish-speaking block doubled the boss’ stamina, as the Boricuas are the co-architects of hip-hop in his birthplace. Sign the Terror Squad collective ahead of their No. 1 Hot 100 entrance “Lean Back” further cemented the sentiment: “We from the Bronx, New York – shit happens.” Yet the advice to creatives from Acevedo’s hangouts didn’t stop at the talent that shared his identity.
The multi-hyphen is responsible for launching French Montana in the general market. “There are no limits to goals. I helped him with his mixtape cast, the city of cocaine DVDs, and land her first big recording deal. French Montana was on the move in the streets, but it needed structure. The rapper asked, “Can you handle me?” At the time, I had so much on my plate. So he started coming to my office every day until I did,” the president said.
From then on, Acevedo began teaching the MC the ins and outs of the business. Montana’s restlessness was evident. Soon, the leading bridge builder was promoting a plan to get Montana past the New York airwaves by way of a FunkMaster Flex co-signer. After navigating industry politics, the radio heavyweight agreed to meet and later DJ at Montana’s birthday party.
The celebration host maneuvered the vinyl of the lyricist’s single across Flex’s tables – encouraging him to spin it. The crowd at the venue went wild when new music from Montana dropped. Succession to management breakthroughs include the double platinum collaboration “Pop That” with Rick Ross, Drake and Lil Wayne and the 9 times platinum duet, “Unforgettable” with Swae Lee. Additional Guide Stages include Myke Tower Beginnings The Final of the Principio.
The chart-topping accolades in the music world pale in comparison to Acevedo’s most important position: head of the family. “I am a father, a husband and a family man. I think it gives me a lot of power. They are my biggest support system. Also, I have a 14 year old son who has autism. He is the most affectionate child in the world. My boy is my superhero. It’s gratifying to see him evolve,” he said affectionately.
“A lot of people in my position or in general feel embarrassed to have a child with special needs. I have never been bothered. My house is everything! When I am at home, I am pious. My daughter understands how family works. My wife is Boricua too. She and I grew up in the same neighborhood. I have known her for thirty years. We are business partners,” Acevedo continued.
Together, the couple operate GStarr Entertainment – an artist relations company. They signed artists JI, Daisy Simo, Apollo Rai and Messiah. GStarr’s buzzing production roster includes newcomers DOC, Almighty Nate and Jabari. United, Gabriel “Gaby” Acevedo’s rap enterprise is gearing up for more hit records, intercontinental tours, a TV series alongside 50 Cent, and groundbreaking independent wins. Acevedo is a board member of the XXL Award 2022.