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On Thursday March 9th, Brooklyn’s prestigious Borough Hall stood illuminated in a glow of purple, red, and green as various influencers and artists gathered to witness Icon Talks honor a true hip-hop legend: entertainment mogul and philanthropist John David Jackson, better known as F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S.

Taking place on the 20th Anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s untimely death, a fitting tribute to a fellow Brooklyn emcee and as it was later revealed an intentional choice by Fab; the night perfectly embodied the style and essence we’ve come to expect from Jackson.

Sponsored by Porsche, the evening began with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception in the historic landmarks grand rectangular rotunda beautifully anchored by marble staircases on opposite sides. Guests included Rotimi, Wale, Doug E. Fresh, Ryan Leslie, Lenny S, Tahiry Jose, DJ Vlad, DJ Clue, DJ Self, Rob Markman, Mysonne, Grady Spivey, and The Source Magazine’s Londell McMillan.

The second half of the night took place in the majestic Grand Courtroom. Leslie paid tribute to his longtime friend with a few words. Touching on Jackson’s ability to remain humble amidst all of his success and offering a brief reminder of Loso’s most recent musical hits, he went on to thank him for “allowing me to be part of the soundtrack of New York City.”

Surrounded by ornate gold and white details under a regal and magnificent white chandelier; the perfect backdrop for this intimate conversation, we get to know Jackson a man from humble beginnings and Fabolous the slick talker with a lucrative 16-year career. Led by Icon Talks co-founder John Burns, Fabolous provided a view into his life sharing the keys behind his success and philanthropic endeavours.

Born in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Fab recalled growing up in the Breevort Houses looking at his environment and deciding that he wanted more for himself. With that mindset he went on to reach incredible heights of success, which he credits to making the most of the opportunities he was given.

On the differences between John and Fabolous

Fab is an alter ego of John. It’s like when Clark Kent goes in the booth and turns into Superman. Still the same guy just one has more flash.

On how to measure success: 

Success can be measured in so many ways. You can achieve success within yourself. Success is anything you put forward to do and that you achieve. There’s different levels and different ways of achieving and acknowledging success. I was given opportunities and those opportunities are successes.

On the importance of empowering young people who might doubt their potential:

Stay determined. You may not get it the first shot. Everything is microwaved. There are those with overnight success; but for most, you will not be overnight successes. Stay determined. If it didn’t work this way let’s try another way. My plan B is another way to make my plan A work. We are going to get plan A.

On his foundation A Fabolous Way: 

A Fabolous Way was created because I wanted to help inner city kids. I was once an inner city kid looking for things to do. It’s easy to find trouble. When you give [kids] the opportunity they can do so much more and keep away from trouble. Give them opportunities outside of just sitting around doing nothing or worse. Opportunity is golden. Someone gave you an opportunity to even be in this room today. There are a lot of talented people who don’t have the opportunity to show their talent. Kids come up to me and sometimes I may listen to them spit and that may inspire them. Giving kids opportunities are priceless.

On when he recognized his potential: 

I thought I was pretty good. I can’t say I knew my full potential. When I went to meet DJ Clue I thought I was just going in to say what’s up. I wasn’t enthused but when I got there Clue says, “We gonna go on commercial break and when we get back my boy is going to rap for you”. I thought I was just going to shake his hand. Back to the idea of opportunities. I looked at it as I have to do the most with this and give it my all and whatever happens from there just leave it to God.

On what Biggie meant to him:

He’s our hero. We seen Biggie come up. It’s the story of where you see a guy come from the mud and become a star and it’s like you right there along with him. B.I.G. always represented Brooklyn and shared everything he ever achieved with Brooklyn. He was our hometown hero. Losing him so soon we didn’t see what he would have blossomed into, and that’s one of the most disappointing parts about losing him.

On what he hopes he’s best remembered for: 

I hope [I’m remembered] as somebody who made the most of an opportunity. I was a kid who was observant and looked around to see what was in the world and my world was a 4 block radius in a housing project, but I knew there was more. I said I wanted to do more than this and when opportunities came to do that I took them. One opportunity can lead to the next one.

In the spirit of the evening three Brooklyn 12th graders who were identified by their teachers and community leaders as future icons of tomorrow were awarded the Icon Scholarship.

At the end of the talk Sharon Carpenter and fellow Icon Talks founder, John Hartsfield presented Jackson with the Icon Award.

The night culminated with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams presenting Fabolous with the Key to Brooklyn and Proclamation for his contributions to the community.

The previous night at the Icon Talks dinner longtime friend and collaborator Swizz Beatz had this to say about the 39-year-old father,

“Congratulations to my brother Fab for being the secret weapon. I call him the secret weapon. He’s the secret weapon for fashion, the secret weapon for music, the secret weapon for creativity, he’s the secret weapon behind a lot of artists doing what they do today.”

Swizz concluded,

“We gotta get this new album out. No more mixtapes.”

Congratulations to Fabolous on receiving the Icon Award, Key to Brooklyn, and Proclamation. We salute you for your continued commitment to supporting underprivileged youth.

We’ll be on the lookout for the new album. In the meantime, take a peek at the Icon Talks Dinner held at Manhattan Motorcars.

About Icon Talks:

Icon Talks is an intimate discussion with icons from various walks of life, from music moguls to professional athletes, CEO’s, actors, and activists. The conversations will explore their path to success and provide a platform to engage, entertain and inspire.

Founded by John Burns and John Hartfield on the principle that an icon is someone who inspires not only through their innate talents, but someone who manifests their purpose and passion in how they live their life and touch the lives of others. With that mantra as our driving force, we identify and work with the icons who are not only celebrated in their own profession, but who are passionate about inspiring others through their triumph, determination, and good will.

Icon Talks directly funds and benefits nonprofit, Icon to Ican. Icon to Ican is a charitable organization offering a multitude of youth development programs for disadvantaged and/ or disabled children. Icon to Ican provides mentorship and developmental opportunities for kids from the distressed areas; offering inspiration that they CAN overcome barriers and also come become an ICON.

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