Updated: May 23
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS interview with AJ Jones…
SFSMAG1- 1. Did you like music as a child?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - Yes I loved music as a child but I don’t know if I was conscious of the fact that I loved music until my pre-teen years. Maybe around 10 or 11 years old is when I can say I was aware.
My grandma Clem, Rest In Heaven kept me and my lil cousins in church every Sunday. I would say those were my first conscious interactions with music. To be honest, the only thing that really excited me about going to church was to hear the choir and the music. That’s the only thing that really connected with me spiritually.
Prior to my pre-teen years I enjoyed the trendy Hip-Hop/ Rap and R&B songs just like any other young black kid in grammar school at that time. As kids we even remixed the popular songs in school i.e) songs like Deborah Cox’s “How Did You Get Here, Bitch I Caught the Bus” lol or the R.Kelly’s remix to “Fiesta, Fiesta” which was “Molesta, Molesta” lol; I know that’s kind of bogus but I’m being honest.
Music, whether positive or negative, was heavily a part of my childhood, much like how the shorties these days remixed all our generations' music and create dances to them on TikTok.
SFSMAG1- 2. Tell me a little about yourself?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - My name is Tremell “Mello” Williams; father, artist manager, consultant, activist, entrepreneur, event producer, investor, student of life and Founder of ELITEMIND Management LLC.
SFSMAG1- 3. When did you decide that you want to become a music agent?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - Music Agent! Ha ha ha... I like that term but I think that only describes a fraction of what I do. Talent Manager & Brand Consulting.
Platform builder is more accurate. I decided that I wanted to build platforms in my late teens when I discovered I was good at networking and connecting individuals who I felt were more talented than me.
SFSMAG1- 4. What is your inspiration?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - My inspiration stems from a lot of people, places and things. However more specifically my inspiration would be my family, my sons, my nephews and the desire to create a legacy and foundation financially for the next generation of my family.
The desire for them to not have to go through the same trials and challenges that I have had growing up. My desire for them to grow up having to not struggle financially and to have a thriving mentality instead of the mentality of surviving. The desire to give them the opportunity to experience a better quality of life than I had and to know they have a cushion so that they have no fear of failure.
SFSMAG1- 5. What attracted you to begin a career as a music agent?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - First being a fan of certain music artist and the love of music. I've had the pleasure of managing and working with some of the most talented artists to come out of Chicago. Also working with stellar events, organizations and brands. I’d say what attracted me was my ability to network and connect with individuals who I felt have talents that need to be seen by the world.
SFSMAG1- 6. What was your first role?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - My first role or say professional exposure to my profession was being the manager of rapper/producer BIGG CUZ.
SFSMAG1- 7. What do you love about music ?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - What I love about music is its ability to connect with your spirit, its ability to affect your mood, its ability to teach and its ability to be a universal language. It is absolutely one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
SFSMAG1- 8. What is next for you?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - What’s next for me is to build more platforms, to provide life changing opportunities to my family, friends and loved onez and to help contribute to as many people lives as possible.
SFSMAG1- 9. What are some of the difficulties of the music business?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - I would say the most difficult thing I’ve dealt with is being independent, self financed and me nor my artists' being willing to compromise who we are or our integrity to fit into certain circles, people of power or dealing with certain gatekeepers in the industry.
Especially some of the gatekeepers in the Chicago scene. I won’t say any names and speaking only for myself, I can say certain people in power either felt threatened or didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t willing to for lack of a better term “play ball”.
SFSMAG1-10. How does it feel to be a star?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - I don’t consider myself a star. Honestly I’m just a man that wants to live up to and exceed my potential. Anything I have accomplished has been a reflection of that effort. Yes I know and have crossed paths with a lot of powerful and influential people in my lifetime. Several respect me and have voiced their appreciation for the effects I’ve had on them but in reality, I’M JUST BEING ME… NEVER DESIRED TO BE ANYONE ELSE BUT A BETTER VERSION OF MYSELF.
At times I’ve felt like I failed at life, and failed those close to me. Especially with the untimely deaths of my two younger brothers “Moni and True”, it’s been very challenging at times regaining faith and belief in myself. Being the oldest child, the first college graduate, first to travel outside the country, the first entrepreneur in my family, etc... There’s times throughout my life when I felt heavy pressure and expectation from family and friends to be the one that would become wealthy, provide opportunity and break the generational curses that plagues my family.
At some point I had to learn to accept and even still to this day am learning to accept that I am a leader and that I have been put in a position to change the trajectory of my family legacy. While I know this is true I can honestly say that I don’t know if I’ve truly discovered my purpose in life yet.
SFSMAG1- 11. How did you discover music?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - I would say I discovered music in Church at an early age. It was the thing I enjoyed most about attending church. Also I discovered music at family gathering BBQ’s, birthday parties, etc.
Outside of church I would say the music that was most memorable for me as a child was the soul music and classic christmas songs my grandfather “Wayne Watts” The Singing Mailman, Rest In Heaven; would play every christmas when we’d go to his house. Songs like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, “Silent Night”, “This Christmas" and more. From then, I fell in love with music and started to consciously search for and discover new artists and different genres of music such as Micheal Jackson, Nas, Tupac, Prince, The Temptations and more…
SFSMAG1- 12. How old were you?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - I was young, probably 8 or 9 years old.
SFSMAG1- 13. How was your journey to becoming a music agent?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - My journey as a music agent/ manager kind of took its natural course. I started around the age of 18 fresh out of high school during my freshman year at Columbia College in downtown Chicago. The first artist I managed was my childhood friend, rapper/producer by the name of BIGG CUZZ. He was also my business partner in throwing parties. He would perform at our parties as well as open mics and showcases that I got him booked for. Him being a producer also gave me a little leverage because I was able to pitch his beats to other artists, djs and promoters in exchange for showcase slots, etc. With me naturally being a sociable person who
enjoyed networking, it wasn’t hard to get involved in the local hip-hop/rap music scene.
However as time progressed the scene evolved and the players changed it became increasingly difficult to elevate beyond the local scene to the regional or national scene. Being able to pivot into expanding the roster of artists I manage and/or consult, producing concerts, music festivals, Award shows, community and special events has been necessary.
SFSMAG1- 14. Who was your role model?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - The MOST HIGH is my role model. I can honestly say it has been my guidance and source through all my trials and tribulations. As far as people, I would say that I have had a few role models throughout my life.
I would say all of my grandparents Rest In Heaven were my first role models. My grandfather Pee Wee who instilled work ethic in me, my grandma Clem who showed me what unconditional love was. My grandma Icy who was probably the most pleasant human being I’ve ever encountered, my granddad Wayne Watts who pushed and encouraged intelligence and being a productive black man. My father and mother who taught me resilience despite their shortcomings. Outside of that I had other role models growing up such as Mr. George Glenn (R.I.H) who taught me what it is to sincerely care about the next generation of black young men and Lord Cashus D who taught me what the real culture of Hip-Hop is. More recently I would say Dr. Ephraim Martin has been a role model and shown me what determination and having a vision can do. All of these people have been role models to me at some point in my life rather they know it or not.
SFSMAG1- 15. What are some of the difficulties of the music agent?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - Most of the difficulties or challenges I’ve had have been either not having the capital to do business or not knowing the right people to do business at a level that would advance my career.
SFSMAG1- 16. Any upcoming Projects/roles you can talk about?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - Yes, I have a few. I’m partnering with the Firehouse Community Arts Center as consultant and production manager for their 16th Annual FIREFEST Hip-Hop Block Party which will occur August 12, 2023 in Chicago. Should be dope, were bringing a buzzing/ viral Hip-Hop artist "LaRussell" to headline this year among others.
I’m also partnering with a prominent pan-african organization in producing their Diaspora centered event "The EXCHANGE Ceremony" in June, 2023 and I'm also the production manager for "The African Caribbean International Festival of Life" which i'm excited about bringing Reggae legend "CAPLETON" & Rap superstar "RICH HOMIE QUAN" among others to Chicago this 4th of July weekend. I’m also working on new music projects with artists I manage and have signed to my indie record label.
SFSMAG1- 17. Were you certain at the beginning that you could be successful?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - I think success is subjective. Success can mean different things to different people. I’ve never doubted my abilities or potential. I can honestly say that I have been successful in accomplishing things that I never could have imagined in my life.
However I have also failed several times. I actually have failed more than I have succeeded and my biggest most ambitious goals have yet to be accomplished.
SFSMAG1- 18. How do you think success has changed your life?
TREMELL “MELLO” WILLIAMS - My success to me is a direct correlation to my failures and my failures have done nothing but motivate me to fail faster and to go even harder at pursuing my version of success.
The successes I’ve had have made me reevaluate the people, places and things that are important to me. Although I know time waits for no man, my successes remind me that I am running my own race and that my path and journey is mine and mine only. #KEEPGOIN
Contact Mello: linktr.ee/melloemd
Mural Painting by: RAHMANN STATIK
Location: Liore's Cafe
10500 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL