It’s Valentines Day! So, here is another power couple doing their thing, in the name of love. British & Toine Tracks, founders of Level-Up Magazine, have invested their time to growing an empire dedicated to building the recognition around underground hip-hop. The magazine has come a long way, starting off with just using one small camera to averaging about 8,000 readers for every new issue.
How long have you two known each other so far.
BT: Since we were fifteen, so it’s been thirteen years.
So tell me the story of how you two first met.
BT: I was going through his locker and I was talking to one of my friends. We were getting ready to get on the bus and I had stopped at her locker randomly and all of a sudden I was going through his locker and he happened to walk up as I was standing there so he caught me looking through his stuff.
So how did you guys transition from being just friends to boyfriend and girlfriend?
BT: That was interesting too because we were study buddies for a while sophomore year. Freshman year was when that whole locker thing happened. So when we saw each other for that whole time and then stop for a year, we ended up having all our classes together except for gym. to do work for our English class together. It kind of just went from there. I think it was me that first asked him did he like me.
So, about the magazine, Level-Up, how did you two get that started off.
BT: Well, my husband started in the industry in high school making beats. Once he got to college, you know how Columbia is; there are so many creative people around. He started networking with people; he started producing so many artists. Every day he was recording artists, producing artists, networking with people on campus. One thing that these artists said that they didn’t have was a way to promote themselves or some type of portfolio to showcase all their music they were putting out. One day, Toine, just came up with this idea of creating a newsletter, something physical that would showcase all these people that he had been working with.
The whole idea got started and we launched first issue with our little camera. From there, it’s been getting better. Every year and every issue, we’ve been networking and finding more people. It’s really because of the passion my husband had from the very beginning with showcasing these interesting and talented people from the underground. And now Chicago is at the top for artists and we’re getting so much recognition. I really feel that back in 2008, a lot of people didn’t care about Chicago artists.
Since you two are not only business partners, but also romantic as well, what’s some advice you’d give other couples going into business with each other.
BT: My advice is to keep the line of communication open. Depending on what industry you’re in, know how the industry works and have trust for your partner. Find ways to be part of the business as much as you can and show support. Just have a positive outlook on the end result of what you’re doing with your partner.
Sometimes it is hard when you have a business and are in a relationship because you both are still individuals and have your own way of doing things. You might have disagreements but cutting off the disagreements to a certain point so that things can flow a little better. For people who are single and who are looking for somebody in the industry, try to find your mate. Find someone who complements you. Don’t look for someone for what they can do for you, look for someone who will complement the person that you are and you will also compliment them.
Honestly speaking, has your romantic relationship ever been threatened by your work relationship.
TT: Yea we’ve experience that before. Early on in having a business, we experienced that and I think that it really helped us bond more and learn from that. That’s the thing too, youdon’t want your business to jeopardize your relationship but you don’t want your relationship to jeopardize a business that both of you’all would want. We want our business to keep going, to keep rolling. We don’t want either thing to jeopardize anything. I think learning that before helped us learn our boundaries on being professional. If we have something that we need to talk to each other about, we don’t make that happen on set while we’re
doing something that’s related to our business.
Any future plans for the magazine.
TT: The magazine is to take people on tour. That’s basically it, going international.
BT: We’ve really been talking about traveling the world and branching off as a couple and as a magazine. That’s one of the things we are attracting and manifesting right now. We want to branch out, go to other places, see the world and see what other underground arts and music is popping off in other countries and other states even.
Make sure you visit the magazine at www.level-upmagazine.com.
-Lisa Brown, Contributor