From the Inside: Through the Lens of a Successful Music Executive


Quincy “Big Heff” Taylor

Mya Jordan, Staff Writer

With today’s endless stream of scandals involving money-hungry producers or managers of notorious artists, it’s typical in this age for the general public to demonize successful figures in the music industry, especially those who work behind the scenes. However, what does a genuine, passion-driven musical entrepreneur look like from the inside?

Quincy Taylor was born in Chicago, Illinois before he moved to Cleveland, Ohio at a young age. Music was essentially his lifeblood; his uncle, who took on a big brother-like role to Taylor, immersed him in a diverse selection of music through the radio, which was continuously playing throughout his upbringing.

Taylor truly discovered the gravity of his passion for music in high school when a group of friends, including himself, delved into their own artistry through bedroom production. The formation would experiment with their own rap freestyles over instrumental beats, despite having no specific direction in which they wanted their art to pursue. The group never carried on to evolve into a bigger project. However, from there, Taylor sought out new enticing musical information, especially regarding the process of production, release, and triggering an audience reaction. It was then when he knew that music was his ultimate companion.

Taylor tokened the name “Big Heff” as he grew more into the scene of artist development and tour management. The first national tour he ventured on was Eminem’s Anger Management Tour in the early 2000’s, which was an opportunity presented to him while working at the notorious rapper’s label, Shady Records, which was also one of his first experiences with the music industry.

This tour brought upon Taylor the opportunity to visit new places nationwide, which was not at all something he saw in his future. “As someone from Cleveland, Ohio, I never thought that music would allow me to travel and see the world… with some of my favorite artists I grew up listening to and some of the people I was really a big fan of.”

Another tour that Taylor worked behind was the Rock the Mic Tour in 2003, which featured appearances and performances from many big rap names, such as 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Obie Trice, and plenty more. Taylor found the discussion between these artists regarding their hometowns and the diversity of the locations that they came from to be something that hit close to home for him. He saw this tour as his opportunity to discover the ins and outs of the industry and begin making a name for himself and his career, and he hasn’t stopped since then.

He also helped out with Eminem’s former hip hop group, D-12, as their promotions manager and with their World Tour. He went on to work with other big names, such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony — a rap collective consisting of creators who are now known as some of the best musical artists of all time –slowly but surely building his reputation as an effective and efficient artist developer.

Despite Big Heff’s experience with what are now known today as rap legends, witnessing a particular artist’s growth was an experience held closely to his heart. Machine Gun Kelly, an artist also originating from Taylor’s adopted hometown of Cleveland, was discovered by the manager at an underground show before anyone knew the rapper’s name. The two eventually set out on an Ohio intercity tour, which was the moment when Taylor truly saw Machine Gun Kelly’s energy and potential before him. “He killed it — every show, every city that we went to. From there, I kind of knew that he was gonna be a star,” Taylor reminisced.

Needless to say, his intuition was correct; today, MGK holds several movie roles and top-selling albums to his name. Still, even amid the success, Taylor holds a close relationship with Machine Gun Kelly. “We still have great conversations about family and life and, of course, music.”

Machine Gun Kelly’s growth has always been inspiring to Taylor. “It’s really great to see a hometown kid that you’ve seen since he was, like, 15 or 16, wanting to get into the music industry, and then seeing him almost eight years later at a good position in his career… and being number one on the charts,” he proudly opened up. “It was the first [artist I worked with] that I really got attached to because… [I wanted to] make sure that someone in my city got into the national spotlight.”

This is a running theme between Taylor and the musicians he works with, as relationships with his clients are clearly a primary aspect of his job. While he is not one for pessimism, he considers his least favorite part of his role to be the (rare) occurence of working with artists with bad energy or those who are simply not good people — Taylor describes himself as a person who very strongly believes in positivity and exuding the energy that you want to exist around you. However, he states that he “luckily” hasn’t had too many of those experiences, and finding the next talent and assisting them in growing a following has generally been a great, enjoyable passion of his.

For years now, Taylor has been involved in countless projects aside from his artist development career. From 2006 up until 2014, he co-founded and worked on the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards. He has also put great focus into the support of today’s children; since 2015, Taylor has been operating an educational career-planning program for kids in schools, called QTime. He uses this project to discuss self-empowerment and career paths with this generation’s youth. Many aspects of career development are tackled, such as the originality of ideas, developing a product, building your brand, developing a relationship with your customers, merchandising, public relations (media, radio, TV, etc.), and more. Since the startup of this project, Taylor has had the opportunity to speak on “music before violence” at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Taylor also works with Carnegie Mellon’s Toyz Nation Gaming League (TNGL). This student organization focuses on teaching coding, career development, and more, all of which are evident to be a current priority for Taylor. The organization has many renowned early supporters such as Mercedes, Google, Intel, and EA Sports, just to name a few.

Other projects of Taylor’s include the “Big Heff Radio Show,” founded in 2015, which airs on weekends across several stations throughout the midwest. He is also an ambassador of Altavoz Distribution, with which he has created a “City Music Deal” to provide money streams for independent artists. He holds the titles as the Vice President of Nerve DJs and the Ohio Valley Region Representative of Def Jam Records, both of which he uses to help breakthrough new artists through promotion and touring. Taylor has received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards in 2015 and, in 2016, the Ohio Tastemaker Award at the Diamond Awards in Jacksonville, Florida.

Though Taylor believes that he is where he has desired to be in his career, he still sees some potential shifts for his work in the next ten years, like diving into working on movies, a docuseries, and other film projects. He also wants to continue seeking the next talent to sign to his label. “I still want to be attached to the music, but [I want to be] grooming the next wave of entrepreneurs or executives into the industry.”

As his work ethic is in an ideal place, Taylor’s main goal in life aside from his career is to start a family within the next decade. While he doesn’t plan to step away from music any time in the near future, he considers the family-oriented aspect of his personal life to be a priority and a strong desire of his. After all, he described the support from one of his closest friends as one of the cornerstones for getting a headstart in his career, making it no surprise that family and friends are a predominant part of his life.

Quincy “Big Heff” Taylor has proven himself to be a source of sincere devotion within the music industry with his undeniable efforts and close, dedicated relationships between himself and those he works with. Taylor is a reminder of the incredible success that arrives with the unconditional, authentic passion of someone with great commitment to their position — someone behind some of the most influential music of the past several decades, and behind the support and growth of the next generation’s upcoming artists.