Devin Cobbs of 40 oz. Bounce discusses what helped him find his career path, working with some of the biggest brands, and his new venture, Perspective.
As tour manager of the mega-brand 40 Oz. Bounce, Devin Cobbs has curated some of the dopest party experiences in every major city across the United States. After accomplishing so much at only 25-years-old one would ask, what’s next for him to do? Bet on himself. With a work ethic and drive he credits to his family, Cobbs has launched his own brand, Perspective that he plans to take inconceivable levels. In our conversation, he openly spoke about his childhood, what motivated him to follow a career in event production, starting his own company, and more.
Tell me a little about your background. Who you are? Where you’re from? What’s important to you in who you are today?
“I mean I guess who I am as a person is just like, by day from like 6 am to like 7 pm, a very serious, goal orientated kind of person, like a very, very self-motivated person. I don’t need anyone to tell me to do something I just kind of get up and go do it. Then from like 7 pm to 11 pm I’m just joking around and laughing all the time. I try to create a balance of someone who does a lot of work but then obviously enjoying enough of life so it’s not just all serious, all the time. Yeah, I think those are the two side of me.
In terms of my upbringing, I’m from St. George, South Carolina. Small town, small part of the world. We’ve done parties bigger than the entire town that I’m from. If you google it right now it’s probably like 2,500 but when you get there if you actually go to St. George it feels like ten. Everyone knows each other, they have like two major grocery stores, and everyone goes to the same school. Yeah, I’m someone from a small town who kind of branched off to making a living in New York and now LA, back and forth.”
How’d you end up in New York?
“My mom moved me to New York pretty young. I was born in South Carolina but I was raised in New York, so that also creates the two sides of me. I’m someone who has the idea of what a small town is like but also, I know how it feels and how to maneuver in a big city too. I moved to New York somewhere between seven and nine, I was pretty young. I think it was fourth grade, so whatever age fourth grade is I was definitely in New York then.”
What were some key moments in your childhood where you knew music and event production would be something you followed?
“I would say there’s like three major things for me that I knew this is what I wanted to do and for how long I don’t know, but I know at some point in my life I wanted to do it. I’d say number one my dad not being around. Not in like a fucking super emotional kind of way, just like, cool I know what I don’t have and I know what I want to provide, and how can I make sure that I’m able to provide or be a good father to my children when I have them. For whatever reason, I felt like this lifestyle would at least be a stepping stone to get me there.
Two, when I was coming up my, they’re really my aunt and uncle but I just call them my grandmother and grandfather cause they were a lot older, they kinda taught me just the importance of business and life. They owned the house that I lived in in Brooklyn, so I learned about managing expenses from grocery shopping. Everything from the receipts we spent on like, Pizza Hut or every time we went to Shop Rite or the expenses for like Chinese food. I always cared about numbers, how much things cost. Even when I had zero dollars in my account my question was always, how much does that cost? If I saw a house for sale, I’d ask how much it cost. My friend’s parents would invite me over and they were always so intrigued, like why is this fucking fifteen year-old kid asking all of these things? I just wanted to know. So I’d say my dad not being around, two, the older people around me teaching me the importance of expenses, numbers, and business.
Three, I don’t wanna give the wrong credit to the wrong person, so I’ll just say BET did this radio interview on Power 105 back in the day, on like the Ed Lover show. I’m almost positive it was AJ and Free. Either AJ and Free or Touré. One of the three. They mentioned, “how come people don’t take a career behind the scenes of hip-hop and music and events?”. Everyone wants to be in the front with the chain on, it’s like people behind the scenes have longer careers than people in front of the camera, and I never forgot that. I’m almost positive it was Touré. Anyway, when he said it I was like, oh shit that’s actually true. I don’t wanna be in front of the camera, I hate that. I always paid attention to when albums dropped, I’d be the kid at school who’d know how many units were sold. The Game ‘Documentary’ when it came out, that was the first hip-hop album I ever bought, when it came out all my friends at school came to me like, “how much was sold? Was it number one on Billboard?” I knew all the information. That’s what I spent my time doing as a kid, like I played video games and shit but number was how much did the albums sell? Like the Kanye and 50 Cent back and forth exchange, I think that was ‘Graduation’ vs ‘Curtis’. I was like yo, lemme look at the numbers, let me pay attention to this. I guess those three things helped me in knowing the career path I wanted to choose.”
How did those three things help connect you to 40 Oz. Van?
“Well, I don’t know if they connected me to Van. I think overall, I mentioned all the numbers shit but at heart I wanted to be a writer. That was like my thing, I always loved writing, creative writing, so when I got turned down for an internship as a writer at The Source, I kind of pivoted to the marketing and business side of things at the same company. I just applied for a different position and somehow got in, and that kind of lead me to Van cause I think I had my first conversation with Van through The Source. A couple months passed and we kind of reconnected. I was just like, yo I think I can help you with whatever you have going on, I could pretty much take you on a tour. Although I had no real way of doing it, I just told him I could. It kind of worked out from there. I’d probably say the idea of business and numbers and management was something I always had and then I connected with Van and implemented all the Wikipedia searches of album numbers and all that into what Van was doing at the time.”
You guys have worked with big brands like partnering with Hennessey and D’usse, what has been key in creating those partnerships?
“One of the biggest key I guess would be… we don’t do anything just for a check, so when we go in and do anything it’s always about what experience can we give to people, when people come and they experience this, what are they gonna take away? Are they gonna be happy about this? What can we put in their hand? You mentioned Hennessey which is good research cause that was like 2015. We had to bury that, no way we could get a D’usse partnership with that (laughs). Anyway, we did a dinner series for them with Van for his birthday in Chicago. It was like, we all like to eat, we all like to drink Hennessey, but how we can invite some tastemakers in Chicago out for just some drinks and some food? Bring a camera and let’s have a conversation. They had nothing like that, so pretty much what we like to do is we kind of look at the world and say, “what can we put in here that doesn’t already exist?” You take a party like the Hamburger Helper party we did with General Mills, you look at that and ask, “why would General Mills need to partner with them to throw a party?” It’s like well, why not? Everyone in the hood at some point has eaten Hamburger Helper, so if we just take them right back to the hood it will be perfect. And it worked! Because if they were to do a 40thanniversary party with some stush ass you know, at a wework or at Soho House, that wouldn’t have… nah, just come to Brooklyn real quick, even though it was in Williamsburg, let’s go to Brooklyn real quick and do an open bar all night. Let’s make some chopped cheese sandwiches and give those out, and give some free merch. Let’s do all of that.
The same thing with D’usse, too. Now D’usse Palooza exists, but prior to that it was like they had no real cultural way to introduce the product. It was like Hov, Beyonce, Bryson Tiller, artist like them would have the product and have it at their birthday party and stuff, but there was no way for myself or you or any other creative to have it at an event. You could buy it but that’s like fifteen dollars a drink, so how can we make sure people have it and taste before they’re paying their money for it? That was the same thing, we looked out in the world and was like there’s a lot of open bar parties but there’s none with D’usse. And, we did that last year. It’s kinda just like looking at the world and whatever is missing, fill the void.”
You spoke about the Hamburger Helper event you threw and you have the 4 Lover’s Only Tour, you have so many different events, what’s the process for coming up with themes for your events?
“With 4 Lover’s Only, there’s a lot of R&B events out here but they’re normally for your mom on Mother’s Day, so if you’re not an older woman or like a lover of Steve Harvey or some shit, like if I were a 25-year-old kid who wanted to listen to some R&B at a party, where can I go? Up until last year there really wasn’t one. Before you sell people on something, before people spend money on something, they need to feel it first, they need it taste it first. That’s just the way life works. So, we were like we need to create an R&B experience and that’s how 4 Lover’s Only was born. We all love 90’s R&B, we play it all the time, so put 90’s R&B music on, let’s get the dancing going, food in people’s hands. Thankful to partners like D’usse we were able to pull that off.”
You are starting your own venture, Perspective. What made you make the decision to go out on your own?
“I’m a believer that you have to change your job every two or three years. Not necessarily the company itself, say you work at Dunkin Donuts and start as a cashier, in two to three years you should be the manager. Two to three years you should have your own or running a few of them or whatever the case may be. With myself, I was working with Van from late 2014 until now, but at that the top of last year I was just like well we need to start our own thing. I wanna launch 4 Lover’s Only, I wanna do that on my own, have these candle ideas, I wanna do that on my own, have these charity events, I wanna do that too, so what are we gonna put that under? It can’t be under 40 oz. Bounce, we need to create an umbrella. The first name was Produced by Dev, but I hated it. I didn’t hate it, I loved it at first, but I hated it afterwards cause it kind of felt like I was producing beats and not events or experiences. I then changed it to Perspective because I’m a believer that perspective is everything. You could have no money in your pocket and look at life like I’m broke or I’m in between a blessing right now and I’m about to get another one. It really is up to you to change whatever the trajectory is of your life so, I named the company Perspective for that reason. Especially when we’re working with clients like Avion or Swisher, I want them to understand that you need to take off your glasses and put on ours. Put on the consumers glasses. They’re not gonna go to the store and buy your product if you don’t do anything for them. It’s really perspective. So that’s kind of what the company’s theme is or name is, and that adds to the why.Why I wanted to do it on my own? I think it was just time. I needed a house for all of these new ideas, so Perspective is the perfect place for that.”
You kind of answered it, but I wanted to know what do you hope to do differently than the work that you’ve done with 40 oz. because you guys have really thrown almost every kind of event. So how do you stretch your creativity even more and continue to create experience?
“Not just for me but for everyone that we work with we just wanna get better every year. Every project that we work on I always want to do something differently, so 4 Lover’s Only last year was more of like, I had to prove to Optimo and Swisher that this shit could work when we do it. Each venue, line wrapped around the block in cities that I had never even done my own events in, like in terms of me personally, on a Dev level I had never done it, so the fact that we were able to that it’s like alright cool, now we know that people will come out. Now that we know people will come out, what else can be given? That’s kind of been what we’ve been working on since the last 4 Lover’s Only. We’re adding to the experience, whether it be more performers or an open bar or when that line is long outside, let’s not make people feel stupid for waiting outside, let’s interact with them. Let’s update the website, let’s make that more interactive, let’s just not make it a tour site, I want people to just go to the website before the event. Just look at it again so you could really get the full theme and feel of the website. I think the point is we definitely like to take things up a level and extend our creativity or add on to what we’ve already done.”
When you’re sitting down to create these experiences and mapping out your vision, ultimately who would you like to reach?
“We’re open to everyone, so that’s the first answer. The Dev answer? I wanna reach every young, black creative possible. I want you to get in this space, get in this event, and I think the problem is some people look at parties as just a party. For me it’s like a lot, it could be a therapy session, you might just need to have those three hours to let everything go, you might not have a lot of money but shit this open bar joint, you don’t have to pay for no drinks, the music gonna be good. It’s gonna be food there too, I get some free clothes out of it, my friends are going, alright let me do this. It could be a networking experience, too. I know a lot of people that have gotten full times jobs based on someone that they met at the bar at 4 Lover’s Only. Those type of things are important for us as we produce these events. It’s not just about throwing the party and having a line around the block, because we charge the client but to the consumer it’s free, so it’s not about a money grab. It’s just how do we get as many creatives in a building as possible for them to enjoy this and get this release. Get this good R&B therapy session or hip-hop session or whatever event it is. If it’s a panel, how do we get all these people in a room and get some type of conversation started. Can one out of 85 people in this room leave it and go lock in the deal that will change your life? If that’s the case then we did our job.”
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
“My number one is Dame Dash. He’s just so honest. I like people who are honest even if they’re “axed out or blackballed” or whatever. Honesty means more to him than anything. I think up until recently it was and still is, Hov. But, I feel like its changed for me after now working with him, cause I’m still inspired by him, I just added someone new to the whole equation. I would say Dame, Hov, and I can’t say this without saying my mom.
My mom and my grandfather. My family cause some of them don’t have as much as the others and some have a lot but everyone works equally as hard. Some of them have something to show for it and some of them don’t, but anyone who has my last name has worked hard for everything that they have. That’s where I get my drive or diligence from in the morning because I know although I’m not going the traditional route, there’s no dollar that’s going in my account because of a company that’s putting it in there, I have to work for it. I also know everyone with my last name, all their hard work has provided me with the opportunity to be like I can go do it. Even if they just had a simple conversation and told me I could, that was all I needed till I went out there to go do it.
So yeah, Dame, Hov, my family.”
Five to ten years from now where do you envision yourself being? Where do you envision Perspective and your whole brand?
“Me personally, hopefully by that point I will be with my wife looking back five or ten years like, oh shit, we did all that? Okay, good! I hope that in a five to ten years scenario, the seeds that I planted before are finally growing. By that I mean, if we’re doing these panel discussions and we run into a 21-year-old kid, five years from now he’ll be my age or a year older than I am right now, so hopefully he or she is doing great things with the information that we gave to him.
As a brand, we’ll continue to pivot as always. Each year there’s gonna be something new that we do or a lot things new that we do that will be different from everyone else. For every party we do, there’s a charity event we do as well, for every charity event there’s a panel, for every panel there’s a 90’s R&B party, for every 90’s R&B party there’s a commercial that we’re producing behind the scenes too or a career that we’re assisting with. I think five to ten year’s we’ll still be doing those same things but on a bigger scale. Maybe it won’t be a 4 Lover’s Only, maybe it will be a Coachcella, I don’t know what it is but five to ten years I still want to have the core of connecting brands with their consumers still be a part of our overall bread and butter. That will never leave me as a person even as I evolve.”
What’s the best piece you’ve received and who did it come from?
“It was from Londell McMillan, from the owner of The Source, and Prince’ old attorney. Not really his old attorney cause he still manages his estate. You’ll hear on Hov’s “Caught Their Eyes” he was like, “now Londell McMillan you must be color blind, they only see green from them purple eyes”. Although he is a piece of shit, I think business wise he gave me the best advice, “you never get caught up in an artist that you love with a machine”. Say someone works at a really popular network or company and they get fired from that same popular network or company, how many people do not contact them once they’re not at that job anymore. It’s because they sat on that high horse at that company, they never stayed in touch with what was going on, on the ground. They really didn’t connect with the people like that. They were so caught up in being head editor at wherever you were, and not to say those jobs aren’t important, but nothing is more important than just staying connected and being a real person. You have to remove yourself from all those job titles, that was the biggest thing he taught me. He just made sure that every time a celebrity or artist came in the room you treated them as a person first.”
Follow Devin at @devincobbs and make sure you grab tickets to the 4 Lover’s Only Tour available now! Coming to a city near you! Check out some of what you can look forward to below:
Interviewed & Written by: Chrissy Dru (@chrissydru_)