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Thomi Hairston

Adjunct Professor of Music History

Thomas “FAT Thomi” Hairston is an entertainment industry veteran who matriculated through the institution of Hip-Hop as a protégé, Director, Vice-President, and now President under the direction of pioneers like Rick Rubin and A.D. Washington. This native Virginian’s work with producer Rick Rubin at American Records (Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers), his time as an urban music manager at Warner Brothers, and his work with Clive Davis, Puff Daddy, and more connected him with some of the country’s most notable artists, overseeing their creative development and forthcoming projects and promotional tours. But it was at Arista Records where FAT Thomi would become the National Director of Hip-Hop Promotions and be largely responsible for the success of favorite artists today.

From 1997 through 2000 at Arista he led promotions projects for rap stars such as the Notorious B.I.G., Outkast, Goodie Mob, and Brand Nubian while overseeing projects for such R&B artists as Toni Braxton, TLC, and Usher, with responsibilities ranging from product management to radio promotions, dealing directly with radio stations, DJs, and program
directors. These relationships and his innate salesmanship led to Hip-Hop’s most successful acts reaching multi-platinum status and a strong stance in the hearts of fans worldwide.

As New York and West Coast Hip-Hop ruled the urban airwaves, Southern Hip-Hop was slowly bubbling but faced with constant roadblocks from program and music directors in the major markets. FAT Thomi broke out the rap duo known as OutKast from the northeast, through the mid-Atlantic, and throughout the southeast, the group later releasing a string of classic Hip-Hop albums with their “Dungeon Family” and selling over 10 million units. During his career he has promoted, hosted, and acted as the street agent for such Platinum Plus artists as The Wu Tang Clan, Keith Murry, Eric Sermon, Nas, Outkast, Usher, Foxy Brown, Jay Z, Craig Mac, TLC, GoodieMob, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Biggie, Mase, and Puffy.

Hairston, a former Partner and Vice President of Promotions for Nubian Entertainment, founded XRECORDS in 2003 as the creative outlet for his own roster of artists, with product manufactured and distributed by the Malaco Music Group. Currently FAT Thomi is involved a several major business endeavors that span the music, lifestyle and luxury, and nonprofit landscapes, including his work on the Board of Directors for the Forever K. Michael Collection, an international designer eyewear brand. He remains label President for XRECORDS, home to more than eight independent recording labels across the country that have distribution deals under his company. He is also President of the country rap label “1203 Entertainment,” based in
Nashville and can be seen in Viceland TV’s “Noisey Nashville” episode.

“We have to be the change we want to see in our communities, our homes, in the world,” says FAT Thomi. “But most importantly, as industry executives, artists, and creative minds, we have to take some responsibility for the messages and images reaching our youth. I want to use my knowledge and relationships to save lives!”

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