Steve Stoute — a cultural force who has built a name in the music industry and as a marketing and brand entrepreneur — brought his savvy to the Zellerbach Playhouse at UC Berkeley Thursday, telling graduating statistics students that “data is the instrument, now go be the artist. Keep pushing the culture forward.”
Then he introduced his surprise for the grads. “Here is your gift today!” he told them, bringing out DJ Khaled. The record producer and DJ took the floor in a pale blue track suit and, after a little encouragement, got the students to put their hands in the air as he performed “All I Do Is Win.”
“This is amazing ’cause I didn’t graduate myself,” he told the audience. “So this is the closest thing to graduation for me too.”
And he added, “They don’t want us to graduate, so we gon’ graduate!”
Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation LLC, a marketing and branding firm, and author of The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, has built a successful career in business but acknowledged to the graduates it was his first time in a cap and gown, though he attended five schools.
“And my parents are in the audience!” he said. “Mom, Dad, this is as close as we’re ever going to get!”