Revolt World: ‘We’re trying to create magic in a bottle for the culture’

Atlanta’s weekend event combines music, lifestyle, tech, culture, gaming, sports and entrepreneurship.

Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

When Deon Graham sat down for dinner at the home of rapper-entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs around 2018, he took a chance and spoke frankly about the need to support talent beyond the music industry.

That intimidating conversation with his idols — Combs, who was also his boss at Combs Global, and music exec Andre Harrell, who died two years later — has evolved into this weekend’s Revolt World, a massive event in Atlanta focused on all things hip-hop. Hosted by Combs’ Black-focused multi-platform media company called Revolt, the three-day event is designed to empower innovators and professionals across the music, lifestyle, tech, culture, gaming and sports industries.

“When I would go to Revolt Music Conference beginning in 2014, people would hand me their mixtape, but I had nothing to do with music and couldn’t help them,” said Graham, who has worked his way up to chief brand officer at Combs Global. “From there, it was about trying to find a way to broaden this beyond music because the culture has evolved into all of these different things.”

Credit: Courtesy of Revolt

Credit: Courtesy of Revolt

That music conference evolved into the Revolt Summit, which has now become Revolt World.

The weekend will feature performances from artists like Don Toliver, Moneybagg Yo, Juvenile and Mannie Fresh. Also on tap will be live tapings of Revolt television shows such as “Caresha Please,” “Assets Over Liabilities,” “Big Facts” and “The Jason Lee Show.” Guests will include Jemele Hill, Flau’jae Johnson, Larry June, Lauren London and Saucy Santana.

Revolt World will offer a podcast pitch competition, wellness zone, master classes, a gaming center and executive chats on professional development. Panel discussions will include mental health in hip-hop, women in sports, hip-hop and fashion, working as an independent artist, the current state of R&B, the global impact of hip-hop and Black women in tech.

One of the main attractions during Revolt World will be a live taping of “The Blackprint,” a television show in its second season that features backstories of creative professionals and culture leaders. Host and Revolt CEO Detavio Samuels will interview rapper-author Jeezy. Samuels said he’s been thinking of Revolt World as Disney World or the “Super Bowl for the culture.”

“Revolt World is about unlocking the potential within the culture and getting the community one step closer to fulfilling their dreams and fantasies,” Samuels said. “We’re also building worlds so that there’s something for everyone. It’s very hard to explain, but we’re trying to create magic in a bottle for the culture.”

Credit: Courtesy of Revolt

Credit: Courtesy of Revolt

The hosts of “Black Girl Stuff,” another Revolt show, will lead a discussion on modern Black love with rapper-actor Joey Bada$$ and actor Tyler Lepley. It’s a rare moment for the brand to pair the Black female talk show hosts on a live stage with men to tap into relationship dynamics.

“When we come together, who knows what can happen?” said Akilah Ffriend, a “Black Girl Stuff” co-host and “Revolt Black News” business correspondent. “It’s important that we’re putting all different people on the stage with us from different types of relationships: folks that are married, single, dating, which is the definition of Revolt. Put them in a room, and let’s see where it goes.”

Hip-hop is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year. Revolt, now headquartered in Midtown Atlanta, is also celebrating a milestone: its 10-year anniversary. The multi-platform brand, which started as cable station, recently earned two BET Hip-Hop Awards nominations this year for Best Hip-Hop Platform with “Caresha Please” and “Drink Champs.”

Credit: Sidd Stamps

Credit: Sidd Stamps

Some critics of Revolt have argued that shows like “Caresha Please” and “Drink Champs” don’t present hip-hop culture in a positive light. However, the executive team thinks of these shows as supporting cultural diversity and as part of a strategy to draw in viewers to other shows such as “The Crew League” and “Revolt Black News.”

“We’ve watched many Black-owned media companies fail because they refuse to play in this space,” Samuels said. “They felt like they had such a responsibility to the Black community that they couldn’t create that work. Our community is not conditioned to show up for the more positive stuff. So if you don’t have a ‘Caresha Please’ or ‘Drink Champs’ bringing people in, then our people never get exposed to that content.”

Added Graham: “It’s important to give creators a platform to be themselves. … Our culture has always needed some swagger, fun, laughter and some balance.”

With Revolt World, the company is also hoping to affect the future.

“This is a little pocket of an example of what it looks like when we all work together,” Graham said. “Our ambitions were always to be a global platform that can connect everybody through culture. It’s always important for us to have a very diverse room, and the culture is fully represented at our table.”


Revolt World

Friday-Sunday, Sept. 22- 24. $119-$399. Pangaea Studios, 3350 Greenbriar Parkway SW, Atlanta. 310-893-9578,