Kevin Liles is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KWL Enterprises, a strategic holding company anchored by the noted brand and talent development firm, KWL Management. KWL Management works with entertainers, athletes and models to develop brands, forge partnerships, and cultivate successful careers. Notable clients include musicians Big Sean, D’Angelo, Estelle, Nelly and Trey Songz; athletes Darrell Wallace Jr. of NASCAR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and four-time Olympic gold-medal winner Sanya Richards-Ross; and Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks. Other KWL Enterprises portfolio businesses include: 300 (entertainment content), Go N’Syde (beverage company); KevDar (consumer product processing components), Kevin Liles For A Better Baltimore (empowers disadvantaged youth in Baltimore), Make It Happen Foundation (educates underserved youth), MedxCom (mobile technology), MWW Entertainment (consumer marketing), NextGen (online education) and TrueComm (telecommunications).
Liles has one of the most storied careers in entertainment, rising from unpaid intern in 1991 to President of Def Jam Recordings by 1998. During his seven-year tenure as President, revenues doubled to $400 million through the diversification of the Def Jam brand, artist roster, and channels. Liles was instrumental in the leap of artists from “performer” to “global brand” among many of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B including Jay Z, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, and Ludacris. In 2004, Liles joined Warner Music Group as Executive Vice President and served on the executive team that took WMG public. He led WMG’s innovative “360-degree” strategy, expanding the limits of an artist’s career, while also trailblazing a way forward for recording companies as a business model formerly built around CD sales underwent dramatic erosion.
Liles is a committed philanthropist and advocate for youth empowerment and education. He is the founder of Kevin Liles for a Better Baltimore, which empowers disadvantaged youth in his hometown, and the Make It Happen Foundation, which provides underserved youth with entrepreneurship skills and exposure to higher education. He serves as a board member or advisor to several other organizations focused on empowerment, diversity, and social justice, is the is the best-selling author of “Make It Happen: The Hip-Hop Generation Guide to Success” and a producer for the critically acclaimed Broadway play The Trip To Bountiful, which earned Cicely Tyson her first ever Tony Award.
Liles is from Baltimore, MD, where he also attended Morgan State University. He currently resides in New Jersey.