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Hip Hop, Felonies, and theMSQshop 1 year anniversary

Some of the MSQshop staff behind the scenes of Quesday workshop

For all my business owners and entrepreneurs, what made you go into business for yourself?

For me, it was 2017. I became a felon for the distribution of marijuana (which is now legal), and every time I had an interview, I kept crushing the interview UNTIL they realized I had made a mistake in my past. This hurt to see their energy change so dramatically. At the end of the day, I needed more income. I had a court case to pay for and I still had my everyday bills.

I decided I wasn’t going to wait to work for someone else anymore and began freelance graphic design under my LLC - theOGdesign. As the years grew so did my interest in branding and creating content. Also, I was garnering attention and clients who were impressed by my work. I started directing music videos for others and being consulted for branding, studio sessions, and much more.

After 10 years of being a musician, traveling the country touring, booking shows for legendary acts like Curren$y, Big KRIT, Action Bronson, Ace Hood, and even Aaron Carter, 6 singles on the radio and so many moments I cannot even keep track - I wanted to step in the role of elevating others and chase my dream of being a Creative Director.

OG ILLA and THE UTH on set

Fast forward to 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, my business partner THE UTH (pronounced Youth), and I decided to take a leap of faith. With my skills in branding, graphic design, and networking acquired in the music industry and UTH's experience in the music industry and his newfound passion for cinematography, we felt we had something to offer the world.

We co-own a label called HLGNLIFE Records with our other business partner and long-time friend Prop who was working on her project "Vintage Luggage" and was looking to shoot the video with us for her single "Mulholland Drive Vibes". She lived in Cali and this was going to be our first time being booked to travel and create. We teamed up with a videographer from Richmond to shoot, while I directed and then would bring it back home for UTH to edit. Truly a team effort.

Prop "Mulholland Drive Vibes" Music Video - the first official music video of theMSQshop

I arrived at Cali and unfortunately the videographer mischeduled, which happens in this fast-paced industry, and we had to figure out something quickly. It was a Tuesday and we had NO videographer. But we did not panic. I did not travel to Cali for my first time to let this defeat me even if our video shoot was on Saturday. All I had was my iPhone XR and a gimbal.

I called UTH and told him to order me a drone I could fly in Cali with no license on Amazon and get it to me ASAP. He pressed order and we got the drone at midnight Friday night and I taught myself how to use it by 3 am. It was go-time.

The video shoot was amazing. We were finishing in Beverly Hills with the Audi convertible she had rented for the video; I told her - I'm whipping this when we are done.

As I was speeding thru Beverly Hills and Melrose a sense of euphoria came over me. We ate dinner and then went to meet our fellow Richmond native Rep! at his apartment in Hollywood.

OG ILLA on set of "Mulholland Drive Vibes" Music Video

As I was sitting on the roof of his building in Hollywood overlooking the city of Los Angeles, I realized we were there. Not in the physical - but all the late-night talks, the dreams we spoke into existence, and had worked towards for years, we made it. And I had no doubt in my mind that this is what we were made to do and we could do it. Listen to Hooligans In Hollywood.

OG ILLA x REP! x Prop in Hollywood

Originally, we were working out of UTH's home studio. Then we started doing it out of my home studio. We quickly realized that we were growing too quickly to be working out of the house plus my girl was pregnant with my son during Covid. We also had started this very music blog called focused on covering indie artists and building resources for their artists. And there began the birth of theMSQshop - Creative Content Media Management. We began merging our content creation company theOGdesign with the music blog and it became Richmond’s first and only one-stop-shop for musicians and creatives.

theMSQshop was built on a vision by indie artists for indie artists. We serve a rarely celebrated, diverse community of do-it-yourself musicians. We find purpose in helping these artists become the stars they want to be by acting as a creative team in partnership with them. We’re trusted in the community because our team is comprised of artists with a wide variety of styles and backgrounds that can help musicians, creatives, and minority-owned businesses brand themselves and build quality content that supports their art in a meaningful way. What sets us apart is that we always lead with positivity— and we always find what there is to love (and sell) about an artist and their work. From that vantage, we make a product that reflects the upbeat, colorful pursuit of indie perfection— and we deliver it daily.

stayathomedad performing at The Collective

We partnered with The Collective in Richmond, VA exactly one year ago - a month or so after my son was born. I was in an uphill battle of starting a family and starting a business at the same time but we made the decision and took over the media and production portion of the building. We grew even more with a physical location, building a safe haven for creatives. Since then, we've been connecting with talent all over the country like RCA Records' own FNF Chop and social media influencer CousinSkeether; shooting music videos, branding artists, and covering them on our blog.

OG ILLA and THE UTH outside of The Collective after signing the lease to the building

We began our media production Quesday Workshop and even started to manage talent like stayathomedad. theMSQshop even improved its community influence, creating an internship program for Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Union University students. In addition to its work for indie artists, theMSQshop is landing larger, national clients like Roc Nation, Dream Chasers, and Sony Orchard.

It’s been a year-long of being in our spot and we are proud of this journey and can safely say we’ve created something unique and powerful for musicians. My desire through this whole journey is to build something to hand to my sons. If they decide they want it, that’s their decision but I feel responsible to hand them something.

In the future, we look to open more locations and continue building our platform with entertainment, coverage, and resources for musicians and creatives.

FNF Chop on set of the Quesday Workshop

theMSQshop on NBC12

All in all, being a business owner is stressful but rewarding. The passion that keeps us going is the same passion the musicians and creatives put into their music every day - the love of creating. We are working diligently to build on our innovation, improve our services, and working on changing the landscape of the music industry as a whole. Our team is crafted of hard-working employees, volunteers, and interns who are passionate about music and creation. Here is to more years of being in the field and elevating everyone around us.

Written by OG ILLA

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