A born entrepreneur and natural achiever, James “Big 7” Stokes has been an integral part of developing the hip-hop culture and community of his hometown, Newark, New Jersey, for over a decade. The music industry in his blood from a young age, Big 7 is the CEO and founder of Newark Illustrated, an entertainment company consisting of label management and production, artist marketing and public relations, as well as a clothing line and TV show. He is also the owner and host of Time2Grind radio show and mixtape series hosted by DJ Kay Slay that showcases unsigned talent around the world.
Growing up, Big 7 started off break dancing and soon became renowned for his skills, performing numerous times at the legendary venues. Stepping up to the mic with an old school rap group, he even cut a record as adolescent developing lyricist. In time, Big 7 and his group, Hardwe’re, went on to perform at noted shows across the country. Eventually the group performed for Russell Summons and Lyor Cohen, but the most valuable experience came in the form of losing a deal with Jay-Z. Big 7 took this as a life lesson that would lead him to the starting of his own label, which currently manages his daughter, Miss Nana, amongst other artists. Big 7 has put down the mic to guide and produce his talented daughter and her career. Predicted to be the first father and daughter of hip hop to go mainstream, Big 7 is dedicated to this journey and continued success.
When Hot’97 / Shade 45 ‘s DJ Kay Slay appointed Big 7 president of online marketing for Straight Stuntin’ magazine, his career took a major turn in terms of marketing reach and expertise. Newark Illustrated has been said to be the foundation of New Jersey hip hop scene, but has become an even bigger stronghold with a marketing branch, NI-Marketing, doing online promotion and merchandise printing for shirts, flyers and banner. Keeping with today’s ever changing technology, there is also NI-Tweetblast, a recent division of the company that uses the power of twitter to reach over a million fans and has tweet-marketed for the likes of Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, French Montana, Red Man, Nicki Minaj, and others.
With innate drive and passion, Big 7 continues to make moves in the industry. “Build your sweat equity and never give up, “ says Big 7, and with that anything is possible. He is presently working on the Miss Nana mixtape and summer promotional tour, Time2Grind showcase, and running NI-Marketing on a daily basis