culture

How Media Maverick Touré Made His Way to the Top

The journalist and podcast host once convinced the ‘New York Times’ to feature Snoop Dogg

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Sarah Jacobs/ONE37pm

BAH profile
October 9, 2018

Before music journalist Touré penned I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon, before he earned his first byline in the New York Times, before Rev. Run of Run-DMC officiated his wedding and before he interviewed Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga, he got his start in media as an intern for Rolling Stone in 1992.

 

Around this time in the ’90s, the rookie journalist would go to magazine parties to mingle with editors and publicists who could help him find writing gigs. He hustled and hustled more. One publicist eventually introduced him to a New York Times music editor.

 

“I wanted to write a profile of Snoop Dogg, and they did not understand Snoop Dogg at all, and they definitely thought Snoop Dogg was beneath The New York Times,” Touré recalled during a Live From the Bar Cart podcast interview with ONE37pm’s director of podcasts Kal Elsebai.

 

“I called this guy every day for a month and talked to him. They saw themselves in this elevated way, so I had to create this relationship, which we did and we’re still friends to this day, but also to explain to him on his terms why Snoop would be valuable to The New York Times. So not just, ‘He’s the dopest rapper,’ but digging into, 'Well, his people are from Mississippi and moved to Southern California in the Great Migration and you can hear that twang and that southern drawl in him so there’s a larger sociological point here’ and that sort of convinced him, like, if we’re going to talk about him in that sort of depth then that makes a New York Times story rather than he’s the hottest rapper out.”

 

Since that fateful introduction, he’s plastered his name and writing across such publications as The New Yorker, Washington Post, Ebony, Playboy and Vice. He even returned to Rolling Stone to write cover stories about chart-toppers like Beyoncé, Eminem and Adele. He’s written five books, with at least two more in the pipeline involving rapper Rakim as well as modern masculinity in the context of infidelity. And his journalistic chops have translated into him becoming a TV personality on MSNBC, Fuse, BET, MTV and CNN and a podcast host of The Touré Show.

 

On his journey to all of this success, Touré picked people’s brains to learn and grow. In this audio snippet from the podcast, he emphasized the value of mentors.

A lot has changed for Touré since the ’90s, including how his work-life balance has evolved now that he’s a dedicated family man.

 

“Look, I’ve got two kids and a wife, so there are daily things I have to do," Touré said. "I have to engage with them every day. I have to clean up the house every day. But when I was younger and I didn’t have a family [if I was] working on a story, I’m not going to do the dishes. I’ll do the dishes in three days when the story is done. I don’t clean up the house. I would just sit there and work on the story until I fell asleep. Get takeout. Throw the dishes in the sink. I’ll get to it when this is done. There would be times when I haven’t left the house in three days because I was just sitting there zoning on the story or the book or whatever. I really enjoyed that. I loved just dialing into the work and dealing with that. I found that fun."

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On the rest of Touré's Live From The Bar Cart episode, he discusses how he prioritizes major goals over smaller opportunities, how writers can find their voices and how to become a positive thinker. 

 

“Self-belief can be manufactured—you can sort of lie to yourself if you’re a person who lacks self-confidence," Touré said. "You don’t have to accept the thoughts that are given to you. You can control the thoughts in your mind. […] There was a period in my life when I was really actively working on this. If a negative thought about myself crossed my mind I would pinch myself in the back of my neck like really hard to where it hurt [and say], ‘Don’t allow negative self-thoughts’ and you get into the habit of thinking ‘I can do it. I’m going to win. I’m very positive. You know I can handle this. I can handle anything.’ […] The internal self-talk has to be positive. That doesn’t mean that you’re never constructively critical of yourself, but you have to believe in yourself."

 

Listen to the full Touré podcast on: AppleSpotify | Google | iHeartStitcher | TuneIn