In a remarkably short amount of time, my partner Two Lewis and I formed a bond. Some would call it an act of destiny. Others may refer to it as fate, but we’re just taking it one day at a time. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, which is one of the most celebrated cities in the world for music and responsible for moulding today’s affluent recording artists, Two Lewis made his way to the Big Apple to help run a family business. In the midst of the company’s closing, he conceptualised the idea for a company of his own. It’s called Owner’s District; operates as a management and event planning company in the City of New York.
Not too far off from the successful people in his family (singer-songwriters Titus Turner and Sean Garrett), Mr Lewis grew up in the music business as someone who was mentored by Eddie ‘Skeeter Rock’ Weathers (Head of A&R, SoSo Def) and Chadron ‘Nitti Beatz’ Moore (Playmaker Music, CEO). There’s a lot he has done for others in his short time on Earth, in comparison to people his age in the industry, but he’s just getting started with a premier business. It’s a different path to travel.
Without further ado, delve deeper into the mind of the young businessman and mogul in the making.
I’ve been blown away by your presence and the way you handle people since the day I met you, but it wasn’t until we attended the Macy Gray concert at the Opry City Stage that I know you were a genuine, caring person to everyone, at all levels that you meet. Are charm and selflessness things you work at on a daily basis?
Well, first off, I want to thank you for even noticing somebody as small as me on your large Richter scale. I don’t really work on it. I actually think that you have to be selfless for everything you do. Everything that you do, comes back around. You don’t need a reason to help people. If we learn to love without condition, talk without bad intentions, I think it’ll be a better place. You know, giving without any reason, and care for people without any expectation of people doing anything for you. Just give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you, and helping one person might not change the world, but helping one person might change their world.
You’re from East Atlanta, but you’ve made your move to the Big Apple. What has that transition been like for you? How does it vary or differ to you? For anyone who has yet to visit Atlanta or East Atlanta, inform us. What is it like, in general, environment-wise?
In East Atlanta, where I grew up, it’s like a place with the multitudes of talents. You know, I grew up with a lot of MLB stars, football stars, some of the favourite rappers, producers, you know, lawyers, doctors, whatever. I mean, it was a multitude of great people around me, but even though they seen plentiful, it was ten times as many, fucked up/worst situations around us. It’s really a melting pot, where if you get stuck to that pot, it’ll hold you down. Like, a lot of my friends, never made it outside of where we’re from in Decatur or East Atlanta, they never made it outside of that place or even outside of the state. Now, I see them on Instagram, and things of that sort, you know, people are more prone to travelling and things of that sort, because they see other people doing it and they know that it’s possible. I just think it’s so much temptation in the community from drugs, fast money, even, sex, that can throw you off. I think, at times— cause you said something about transition, right—My transition is something that God was able to help guide me through. I think any transition is easier if you believe in yourself, and in your own talents. Times of transitions are great opportunities to take a look at yourself, and look at patterns in your life that didn’t work and evaluate where, you know, you went wrong and the things that work, and reorganise those things, so you can reduce the failing outcome that you have had in the past, and to build on them. Any serious transition will require you to alter yourself. Not just small adjustments, but the way you think, the way you’re living, it’ll bring on a full metamorphosis of your body. I think the transition for me was opening up my mind to bigger perspectives on life, in general, because New York is such a vast and big place.
So far, everything around us in New York City closes or comes to an end. The Times Square’s Opry City Stage closed in September. The studio, Leila’s Jukebox, where we met is no longer open, and then some. Based on your principles and perspective, in a city like New York, do you think change is inevitable? You’re travelled, as they say. To your knowledge, does it—the turnover—occur as often as it does in this town?
I think the art of life lies in the constant readjustment to our surroundings. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will pretty much always get what you’ve already got. To exist in this life is to change. To change is to mature one’s self, one’s mind, one’s creativity. Life is a series of natural changes, unexpected changes. It’s so spontaneous. We can’t resist them. When we do resist them, it only creates anger, disappointments, sorrow, and regret, so you know, let the reality be the reality. Let things flow naturally, whatever way they like. The world changes. We just have to be strong enough to evolve with it. In New York, change may happen faster because it’s just a faster city than most places. It’s the fastest city in the United States, but it could be the fastest city in the world. I’ve been to China. I’ve been to Russia. I’ve been to a lot of great countries around the world, but I just think New York is just a unique place, where it’s fast-paced. It’s always a hustle. It’s always a goal, and as fast as stuff come is as fast as stuff goes. It just means we have to be strong mentally and prepare faster.
Every time someone tells me that they’ve connected with you, they say good things. I’ve lived in New York City for most of my life. You may have heard me say this to you before: You are the first I’ve met who is as consistent, as straightforward, and as supportive as you are—personally and professionally. None of us is perfect, but you do a damned good job at being yourself. I don’t think I could be angry at you if you slipped up with me, a few times, later on in life because of the excellence, determination, and dedication you’re showing now. Do you credit your precision to practice? Does it have anything to do with your past as a pro athlete?
I think I would credit my precision to not wanting to be left out and left behind. You know, I have a thing about being excluded from things, you know, cause [of] how I grew up is in a big family, but by myself at most times. So, I always wanted to do the right thing. I always wanted to know the correct way to do it, and if I could find a better more efficient way, [and] implementing that strategy to do it. Just, for instance, one time, as a child my older sister made a deal with me and the deal was the only way I could play with her and her friends is if we play Hide-and-go-seek and I didn’t get caught. So, she probably thought: [I’m] eight years older than him, my friends are faster, smarter, bigger, whatever, he’ll get caught. He won’t have to come play with me and my friends. It’ll be over with. Well, I had other plans. So, I had prepared for this, and when she let me play, I actually hid—almost in plain sight—but I hid for over twelve hours. I hid for over twelve hours. I hid so long that the helicopters and the police had to come out to try to find me, and I didn’t let them find me either because I didn’t want to get caught. It was only until I heard my mom’s voice, and that’s when I came out, but to me, my will to win and earn my right to be a part of something is the most precise part of me. I think sports honed in on my mental toughness and tenacity, pushing myself to breaking edges to see how far I can go, but I think my will to earn my right in this world and to earn my right in anything I do, is what pushes me.
I think it takes a certain kind of human being to display what you show to the world. Therefore, I’d encourage others to try to emulate your professionalism. What sort of advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps as a standup person and a business owner?
I think a strong guy stands up for himself, but a stand-up guy would stand up for others. I think it’s better to stand up for people who don’t speak up, or who is getting mistreated, or who is talented but getting overlooked, or people who just don’t know how to talk at times. People helping people will get you further in life than always needing help from people. Even though we all need help, everyone on this planet, no matter what guide they’re reading, they need help, but you can’t make it a habit of always needing help. You have to study research, find mentors, and find things that push you to create your tribe and create your way to be the good person that you are.
What do you find most beautiful?
I think love is the most beautiful thing on this Earth. Seeing someone being selfless, taking care of others, taking care of their family, taking care of responsibilities, that’s all the most beautiful things to me. That’s what true beauty is, is loving other people with their flaws included.
What makes you special?
Oh man, the funny thing about that word “special”…Last night, I was sitting at a table watching Amber Riley perform and I was with some great people, you know, Tyler Perry, Whoopi Goldberg, Omari [Hardwick], Tika Sumpter, Danielle Brooks, and I think Whoopi hugged and kissed me on my cheek, and she told me she would def see me again because I’m special. I have a hard time understanding “special”. It frustrates me sometimes because I don’t know why I’m special, but I do know that I want everyone from the homeless people that I give change to, the kids I coach and mentor, to anyone I come in contact with and touch in my life, to know that they are special to me, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they reach their dreams and their goals, as well.
Never in a million years did I think I’d partner up with anyone as far as my business is concerned. I’ve worked tirelessly to make my rounds and to earn what I’m due, so if anyone didn’t work as hard as me, they couldn’t fix their mouths to talk to me about joining forces on anything. GRUNGECAKE is an extension of me, as a human being; space where my [unpopular] thoughts and the thoughts of others exist. Therefore, I am friendly and inclusive yet protective and selective. The night we met, you told me I was on the way to greatness. What did you feel or see? What does GRUNGECAKE mean to you?
The night we met I felt you had a special glow about you. You are a strong gifted black woman. Women are the world. Women run the world. If women didn’t exist, men wouldn’t care about careers, cars, or even, cologne, and I love cologne cause I like smelling good. Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it, you had all those qualities. GRUNGECAKE, to me, means to be brutally honest downright to the nasty part but to do it in a tasteful way that is sweet to its reader’s ears. To me, GRUNGECAKE could be as big as it wants to be because it has the right core values and the right structure. The future is definitely bright for GRUNGECAKE.
Before you officially started your company, you asked me to be your partner. It’s one thing to respect what someone does on their own. It’s another thing to have them join you on your mission. Why do you think you made that decision?
When I started Owner’s District, I was going through a hard time. The company I had originally came up here for was going in another direction. I was feeling lost. I wrote down the essence of the stuff I was good at, and it made sense to start the type of company it was. I spoke to my best friend, my mom, my sister, my brother, Stevie (my assistant at the time), and then, I spoke to Omari, who end up being my first client. They all gave me the go ahead. After I had the idea, I felt like there was no one stronger and more mature in business than you, which I already saw because we were already in business together. It was no more looking around when I already had it.
You’ve shot, directed and edited videos in the past, so you have a creative eye. As a creative person, what do you think a brand like Lomography brings to the table in 2018?
I think Lomography brings an analogue feel in a very digital world. I didn’t realize the dire need for this until I worked alongside JF Clay and Saint Cassius, who are musical artists who preached—on days in—about the realness of analogue, and the outlook of things in life and in the past. This made me realize that we do need more things we can actually feel. It’s less about the touch of things and more about the look. We have to get back to the essence of feeling something. Lomography does a great job at bringing out the best feelings in photography and giving you a physical copy of the pictures that we take today, which is hard to come by these days.
If there’s one thing you’d like people to know about you, that you think they don’t know yet, what would it be?
People always ask me, you know, seeing the people I’m around and seeing like, the things I do, what is my dream and am I living my dream? I just want people to know and understand that my dream is not built by an occupation. It’s built to be a legacy builder. Like, my dream is to be the best husband and father to someone someday. I just want to be a real man’s man, and leave a legacy behind that my kids are proud of, and that would give them a head start on their lives, and hopefully, the legacy is so good that they will continue the cycle and break the cycle of all of the bad things that happened before in my family—before I got here.