When Brian “Bwrightous” Wright enrolled at Morehouse College in 2008, his goal was to get his apparel, Kreemo Clothing, into the hands of every rapper that visited the Atlanta University Center. The entrepreneur born and raised between Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y. connected with his classmate, Desmond “Dez” Attmore, who also grew up between the same two boroughs, in the hallway of their freshman dorm and envisioned a plan that would allow them to be creative nonstop and work closely with some of the most successful artists in hip-hop.
Their plan paid off. The duo’s chemistry morphed into Six Degrees, an Atlanta-based branding and marketing agency founded in November 2018. Their company creates detailed immersive experiences, influencer campaigns, and content that targets Black and brown influencers and audiences. Their activations have attracted brands like Puma, Google, YouTube Music, Pandora, Complex, Atlanta Falcons, Red Bull, Foot Locker, and A24 Films.
Together, Six Degrees produced Future and Drake’s “Life is Good” Hotlanta pop-up drive-thru window, “Creed 2’s” boxing premiere at The Wxllxm, Krystal x Butter.ATL on Northside Drive, Big Boi’s gas station build-out for his limited edition Budweiser tall boy can, 2 Chainz renovating the weight room and locker room at his alma mater, North Clayton High School, and Lil Baby’s renovated basketball court in Oakland City Park.
Hired as the first creative and marketing directors for superproducer Mike WiLL Made-It’s record label, Eardrummer Records, fresh out of college, Six Degrees also curated Gunna’s Playboy-themed birthday party at Gold Room, his Drip or Drown 2 album release party at Georgia Aquarium, and his Drip Closet and supermarket at his alma mater, McNair Middle School. This year, the strategists developed Doja Cat’s Planet H.E.R. drone show with Amazon Music, Trae Young’s launch for his line of Adidas sneakers, Young Thug’s “PUNK” suite at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Aaliyah Experience in New York City, and Metro Boomin’s Boominati pop-up store. Bwrightous also provided art direction for Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist, Meek Mill, and Saweetie.
The self-proclaimed “problem solvers” hopped on the phone with Atlanta to chat about their first meeting at Morehouse, building their company, their relationship with hip-hop artists, and how they balance friendship with business.
What made you decide to base Six Degrees in Atlanta?
Bwrightous: We decided that we could’ve gone back to New York or ventured to Los Angeles, but the majority of Black people in this country are in the South. We probably would’ve done well for ourselves moving back, but instead of going to compete in those markets, we decided to bring our community and our people these different levels of experiences and marketing to them right here.
How did you both meet?
Bwrightous: During our freshman year, we had our final meeting where we were being inducted into being Morehouse students. I walked out of my dorm [Hubert Hall] into the hallway. Dez asked me if I was from New York; I asked if he was from New York, and we just clicked from there. We stayed on the same floor and shared the same interests.
How did you balance entrepreneurship with being students?
Bwrightous: We gained a certain level of focus because we knew we wanted rappers to wear our clothes. When we got into school, it was so perfect because it helped us market to the students. I had things shaking in New York, but I linked with Dez as my partner. We started to create awareness at Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, and Spelman; build the brand; and attack everything piece by piece. If there were on-campus events, we’d design the flyer. If an artist like Lupe Fiasco would come to town for homecoming, we created custom pins and a strategy to get everybody excited. It was a learning experience to help us do what we’re doing now, but it was easy because the market was so small. If I needed to do a photo shoot with a model or a videographer, I’d utilize one of my friends at one of the schools. We used our resources within the community to build up this product that everybody feels like they were a part of. It was exciting to see the growth every time.
How did working closely with Mike WiLL Made-It sharpen your understanding of marketing?
Bwrightous: I first met Mike when I was 20 or 21. At that point, he had a mixtape out, but it wasn’t the hit producer we know of right now. Between meeting him, using our expertise towards our clothing brand, and just everything else that we were doing on-campus, presenting certain ideas to him while he was in the process of growing was so natural. He was a year older than us. He liked what we were doing with our clothing line, so we started running ideas past each other. That was the transition, but it wasn’t challenging because we were growing together. When I graduated from Morehouse, that’s when he had the opportunity to officially hire me as the marketing director for Eardrummer Records. That was a challenge because I was fresh out of college and didn’t know one thing about being a marketing director of a label or a successful producer that we’ve helped. Now we had to put out acts. We got Rae Sremmurd, and that was a huge success. Every time we leveled up, it was figuring out a new stage of how to do it and be as effective as possible.
How do you both split the responsibilities?
Dez: Bwright is more like art and creative direction, so he deals with anything involving branding and graphics. I tend to focus more on the experiential and video production sides. Now, we have a bigger team, so usually the work comes to us. We don’t divide it up between ourselves. It’ll get divided into different departments, and we break it down that way. Our team is set up like most agencies now: three people on our strategy team; an in-house branding and design team led by Bwright; an experiential production design team; copywriters; finance people, and assistants. It’s a little all over the place because we’re still young and figuring everything out.
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Talk to me a bit about how you put together Big Boi’s Budweiser event, where you created a gas station to show off the tall boy can.
Dez: Budweiser’s team wanted to do a barbecue, but I said we could do something cooler. Bwright and I made the deck on my iPad and shot it over. They didn’t think the idea was premium, and I pushed back because I felt really confident in it. They presented our concept to Big Boi, and he said we had to do this. It was dope because it showed me that sometimes you have to speak up, be confident, and push through when you’re dealing with certain brands and groups of people. They may not understand a certain culture or things relating to where you’re at demographically. One of the things Big Boi liked inside of that gas station build-out was having American Deli lemon pepper wet chicken wings. That’s where you win, because those small details make a big difference.
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How was it working on the drone show for the release of Doja Cat’s Planet H.E.R?
Dez: One of our contacts who worked in distribution from our clothing line days is now at Amazon Music. They wanted to figure out how to separate themselves from the rest of the DSPs and the promotion they’d be doing. We came up with the drone show, and that process is almost like learning to fly a private jet. It’s not as simple as it looks on an Instagram caption. It took us two to three months on the phone everyday with the drone company, the city of Los Angeles, and the flight department trying to get stuff pushed through. We finally get down to the wire; I had the whole Santa Monica Pier and beach blocked off. Doja Cat posted it online with the address and coordinates where we’d be flying these drones at. The city literally shut us down.
At that point, it was midnight. I drove an hour and a half outside of L.A. [to] check things out. Meanwhile, I’m on the phone with Amazon and Doja’s team late at night wondering what are we gonna do. We put out so many fires before, so we knew this would be good. We switched the show to a new venue and made it a content shoot. We broke this crazy stage in the Valley; we sent the drones out; and made it a very special moment for her. She was very dope to work with; the moment the drones actually started to lift up in the air on top of the canyons with these crazy massive Coachella-style sound system speakers with the music playing. The drone company told me we needed six months to make this happen. Sometimes you need more time, and even if everything falls apart, it all comes together at the end.
How do giving back initiatives with artists like Gunna and Lil’ Baby fit into your business model?
Bwrightous: Dez and I grew up in less fortunate neighborhoods, so we believe that everything that we do has to have a give-back component, no matter what. Working with Foot Locker Atlanta specifically for the basketball court with Lil’ Baby and providing 200 pairs of sneakers to Gunna’s drip shop with Kaitlin Long [Foot Locker Atlanta’s community marketing manager] was a perfect match with us. That’s what separates us from other agencies. When we go in with brands like Amazon Music or YouTube if the client asks us to market their services or product, we make it a point to ask what will they leave the people or what’s gonna help the audience.
What are the key ingredients to a successful marketing campaign?
Bwrightous: Know your audience. Know the people and what they want. You can have a product or a service, but if you don’t know how that benefits your audience, nobody will be receptive towards it.
Dez: It has to be different, intriguing, engaging, and interactive overall.
How do you balance your friendship with business?
Bwrightous: We’re both different, but at the end of the day, a lot of the values that I share and he shares are the same. When you meet someone that you align with, share the same goals and views on things—we know when it’s game time. Dez is always gonna be my brother, but we both have a goal in mind. It lines up so perfectly.
Dez: We’re both Virgos. The synergy is there, but the balance is we’re both watching each other’s dreams come to life together through our company. Although it is a lot of work, all we know is working together, hanging out, and being friends. We even live in the same condo on the same floor in different apartments. It makes it easier when you’re that close with somebody, you can have honest conversations and understand what really drives them or when it’s work overload. We both just wanna see each other win.