The G-List is’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.

Name: Corey Smyth

From: New York City

Occupation: Artist Management

Affiliation: Blacksmith  Music Corp.

Corey Smyth is the white flag in the never-ending battle between art and commerce. Though he has spent the last 20 years as a manager working on the business side of the music industry, Corey has never lost sight of creativity. “I struggle with the fact that I love being artistic and creative, but I naturally fall in line with commerce,” says the Harlem-resident.

Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith Music Label Deal Altered

Having worked with artists such as De La Soul, Talib Kweli and Dave Chappelle, Smyth is not just working for a monetary success of his management company Blacksmith Entertainment, but to feed his competitive nature to be better than the rest of them. How’s that for a business model?

So how did you get your start in the music business with Blacksmith?

I got my start in 1991 managing the first group signed to Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Records, a group called Y’all So Stupid. I started my management company in college, at Morehouse. I had $20,000 to my name because I sold a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card that I found at my house in Jersey. That was the money I used to start a management company.

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Who finds a baseball card worth $20K?

All my friends will tell you that I’m the most lucky person they’ve ever met. I think my ancestors did a lot to make sure that I’m okay. I think they look out for me. You can’t mathematically put it together. Working with these people has been a blessing. I work with people that I actually develop strong relationships with. I think I’m truly blessed as a person.

You have worked with some great artists in your career. How have the stars aligned so that you’ve been so blessed?

Wow. It’s hard work, and I’m dedicated. But I think being at the right place at the right time is the gist of what gets me to the next level. I met Dallas Austin while I was choreographing/dancing. He became a good friend and a situation presented itself, and that’s how I really started managing. And then after that, I was in New York and I had a really successful party where Mark Ronson was my DJ, before people really knew who he was. Maseo came to my party and said he wanted to DJ and we became friends. A year later, I started managing De La Soul, and that was the next big launch. After working with De La around the Stakes Is High time, that’s how I met Mos Def, and from Mos, I met Kweli. I was working with Santi, who is now Santigold. She introduced me to an artist named Res. Lil’ Jon, David Banner, one thing always led to another. I did all the talent and music for “The Chappelle Show.” So you know, it was the right place at the right time.

Do you find that it’s easier to work with friends once you develop those relationships?

I think we all do things naturally. Friendships in business can be difficult. I understand the capitalist society, so it’s a fine line for a lot of people I work with to monetize the things they do. So you know, sometimes it can work hand-in-hand, and sometimes that friendship puts it to a point where it can be a struggle.

The artists you’ve worked with all have a unique style. Can you talk a little about your own personal style?

I’ve been a well-groomed guy since I was a little boy. I was best dressed in my high school. Check the yearbook. I’ve always been, even when I had ‘locks, or when I was cutting patterns in my hair. I grew up in Harlem, which was always about matching and not wearing the same outfit. You had to match, and you had to flip stuff. I was always well-groomed. Hair cut every week. Always ironing my clothes. You know, always in the magazines and checking out the stories. I’m about grooming.

Who handles your grooming?

I go to B Braxton’s in Harlem, on 116th. And when I’m in L.A., I use Jacki Brown, and Jacki does Puff, Fonzworth. I only let two people cut my hair. I know my travel schedule [and] if I travel for a long period of time I know how to line and shave myself. If I’m international, I may just get a little wooley. I don’t let people mess with my stuff.

Any grooming mistakes you’ve learned the hard way?

Yeah. Allowing someone to cut my hair in London and in Australia. It was the most horrific experience. Dude didn’t even have T-liners. Black people use T-liners, to shape the line across the forehead. In London and Australia or in Europe in general, they aren’t as concerned with the line when it comes to people of color. I think it’s a real U.S./major city thing. You gotta tighten your line. I’m about my haircut.

Give me some restaurants in the NYC area you would recommend.

Blue Ribbon on Sullivan and Spring. I’ve been going there for a long time. My favorite dish is the duck and they have the best oyster bar. You want to get West Coast oysters. They are meaty and fresh. East Coast Oysters are a lot thinner and the consistency is not there.

The G-List is’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.

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