(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another article spotlighting a participant in the “100Knoxville” program, an initiative that aims to help Black-owned businesses grow by $10,000,000 in five years.)
By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
Jarius Bush wrote his first rap in the third grade as part of a competition to write a verse about the United States. Growing up with two older creative siblings, Bush said he had to find his own creative outlet early on. Although he didn’t win the competition, watching his friend perform inspired him to continue with music and to perform himself.
Fast forward to 2013, Bush and several other artists in the Knoxville area decided to band together to create Good Guy Collective, an outlet with resources and programming for local artists.
“We’re basically just a group of artists that are working sporadically throughout the community,” Bush said. “Why not pull our tools together and have a space for us to create art?”
At the time, Bush was in a band called The Theorizt. Good Guy Collective focused on live shows and creating content. Bush said he would help host events and help with merchandise.
Good Guy Collective was not the first time Bush worked with the artists around him. He recorded his first mixed tape in middle school. By high school, he was writing music, as well as recording and mixing songs for other rappers. In addition to working on the music side, Bush would design album covers and packaging for the CDs and sell them at school.
“I always had a little spark to facilitate and create, to make space for others to create,” he said.
Over the years, Bush said changes in technology have changed the way he works with music and artists. Growth in social media meant there were more ways to push music online, but they also had to be noticed, he said.
“With the changing of technology, marketing and promotion obviously change,” Bush said. “We had to improve the content we created in different forms of media.”
As with many businesses that focused on in-person events, Bush said Good Guy Collective had to quickly learn about live stream events.
Even with changes over the years, Bush’s motivation has never changed. He wants to give artists a space where their music can be heard. Eventually, he wants Good Guy Collective to grow and enable artists to reach a higher level of success, expanding beyond a local audience.
He added he would also love to see Good Guy Collective in other cities to provide resources to more artists.
“I love every aspect of it,” Bush said of creating music. “The idea of having an idea and bringing it to reality. That’s what we stand for as a collective. We believe everybody is an artist.”
Bush recently completed the “100Knoxville” program as a member of Cohort 3. The 5x5x5 initiative brings five Black business owners in from Knoxville for a 5-week program. Each business is paired with a mentor and receives $5,000. Bush said the program has helped him to realize “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
The program is helping him to be more clear about the mission of Good Guy Collective, including who it serves and why. He is also working to find more ways to engage with his audience and how to make his business scalable. One opportunity for engaging with the Good Guy Collective audience is through a monthly showcase the business is signed up for with The Concourse.
Bush also added “100Knoxville” is “not just a quick fix. It’s a truly engaged relationship with the program.”
He first found out about “100Knoxville” through the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) Director of Strategy and Engagement Chris McAdoo. Bush knew McAdoo after connecting with him to perform in the 2020 virtual “What’s the Big Idea” competition. McAdoo asked Bush, who is a graphic designer by trade, to redesign the “100Knoxville” logo.
“Being creatively involved with it gave me a passion to be involved with the program as well,” Bush said. “Everybody that (KEC works) with comes with a sense of integrity.”
Programs like “100Knoxville” also give business owners better tools to become successful, Bush said. This can help address issues such as generational poverty. It also brings awareness to Black businesses within the Knoxville community.