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Posted on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 8:21 a.m.

'Ambitious Kids' at U-M presenting rapper Wale at Hill Auditorium

By Jennifer Eberbach

Three U-M students founded new events coordinating company Ambitious Kids Productions, LLC upon returning from summer break in September. For their debut event, D.C. “go-go” hip-hop artist Wale will perform at Hill Auditorium, Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Wale is joined by a full lineup of openers, The Dean’s List, Casey Veggies, Black Cobain, Detroit rapper Gene P, Josh Smith and local Ann Arbor high school group DSB (Dark Side Boys).

The trio of ambitious political science students, brothers Anthony and Daniel Rullis and their friend Harsh Jhaveri, are all from New Jersey and share a passion for live music. Now in their junior year, they are leveraging contacts in the music industry that they have made through different internships (the brothers completed internships with Decon Records in New York City last summer) and working on street teams to promote artists stopping through Ann Arbor on national tours since coming to the U-M.

“We saw Wale live when he performed with Big Sean and Clipse, and we got to meet him,” at the Power Center in 2010, says Anthony Rullis. He and his brother helped promote that show, which helped them to first establish a business relationship with his management and booking agency.

Rullis thinks it is the perfect time for Wale to come to Ann Arbor due to the artist’s growing popularity. “Wale’s second album, "Ambition," was released by Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group in November, and he has a million and half followers on Twitter. He’s also gained notoriety for his mixtapes and first album, "Attention: Deficit" (2009, Allido Records and Interscope Records),” he explains. In 2011, Wale received a BET Hip Hop Award for his guest spot on Waka Flocka Flame’s song “No Hands.”

Wale’s "Ambition" tour was to end Dec. 8 in Atlanta, “but he got such a positive response that he added a second tour. We are lucky to be one of his first stops,” Anthony Rullis says.

“One thing we especially want to do is book a full lineup of quality openers, so it’s not just about the main act,” Daniel Rullis explains. Black Cobain, a Virginian hip hop artist who opened for Wale during the first leg of his Ambition tour, continues on Wale’s extended run. “Casey Veggies has done a lot for how young he is, only 19. He’s blossoming as an artist. Not only as someone who has worked with people like Tyler the Creator and Mac Miller, but by growing into his own,” Daniel Rullis says. “The Dean’s List put on tons of shows for college aged fans, so it’s nothing for them to show up and put on a good concert in a college town,” he says.

Among the show openers, high school group DSB features young local hip-hop artists Anthony Porter (A.P.), Cameron Inniss (Cam Fresh), and Mani Herring (Merk). And even more high school kids are helping to promote the show. “We’ve been able to reach out to kids at all four high schools, Community, Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline,” Anthony Rullis reports.

“Our business stems from our enthusiasm for live concerts and music. All three of us are passionate about music—especially live concerts. Since we were in New Jersey, so close to New York City, and not far from Atlantic City and Philadelphia, we have access to many live concerts. That really grew into our passion for working in the music industry,” Daniel says.

“During our freshman and sophomore years, we noticed there wasn’t as much live music at the U-M as you would think a school as big as U-M would have,” Anthony Rullis says. “We wanted to help establish more live music in Ann Arbor,” not just for college students but for live music fans around the county and southeast Michigan.

Jhaveri is straightforward with his criticism of U-M’s live music scene. He finds it “dead,” he says. “We hope to book, organize, and promote bigger concerts with well-known hip-hop, rap, and electronic music in order to generate a lively buzz on U-M’s campus,” he says. “Compared to other universities, including EMU, we saw that U-M and Ann Arbor are seriously lacking in live concerts and events that students really want to go to,” Jhaveri says.

Looking toward the future of Ambitious Kids Productions, the young co-founders are open to the possibilities. “We are open to any genre of music. We started with hip-hop because we are big hip-hop fans. But we want to branch out from this one concert into new opportunities. Whoever the local community wants, we would be willing to do,” says Anthony Rullis.

Daniel Rullis adds that they are open to both small and large venue shows. “We’re well versed on shows with 400 people and 3000 people. We could do either. What happens depends on what artists are on tour and what the people want,” he explains.

Purchase tickets to Wale's performance at Hill Auditorium from through the Michigan Union Ticket Office .


Usual Suspect

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

"Ann Arbor definitely needs to step up the live music scene." Agree, but this isn't music, it's rap.


Wed, Jan 4, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

This is great news. Ann Arbor definitely needs to step up the live music scene. Congrats and good luck to Ambitious Kids!