Becoming Maui

by Maui and Nile Adams

Many people worship heroes. I created my own superhero in Ninth Grade. Or to be accurate, I turned into my own creation. I became Maui after school and on weekends or any time I was an entrepreneur or conducting business. At school, I was Nile, kind of like Clark Kent. Outside of school, I needed to be Maui, a superhero to negotiate with my boss who was Vice President of Creative at EMI Music Publishing. At 16, I was the youngest intern there. I also needed to be something more than a normal teenager to help promote the three hip-hop artists I manage; they needed Maui, an entrepreneurial leader.

In Hawaiian folklore, Maui was born a demigod. He was the smallest of his family, however he had the quickest mind with a rascal-like nature. I have been on the path to becoming Maui for as long as I can remember. Naturally, the name Maui, and all he embodied, seemed appropriate for my alter-ego. In a sense, he was an entrepreneur in his own right. I cannot remember a time when I was not an entrepreneur.

I started simple—selling Afro t-shirts and old GameCube games. My interest in business grew to a new level when I was 12 and a family friend introduced me to the wonders of the stock market. I was hooked and my father eventually knew to immediately pass the business section of his New York Times to me. Today, a good friend’s mom even credits much of her wealth to me. One day, after school my mom was talking to Ms. Whitford, who said she was interested in buying new stocks. I jumped into the conversation. It was 2007 and, after reading many magazines and blogs, I knew the first generation iPhone was coming. I told her to buy as much Apple stock as possible. The stock was $6.56 per share and she followed my 12 year old advice. Five years later, Apple’s stock is now worth $700.09 per share. Every time I see Ms. Whitford she glows with thanks for helping her make more money than she anticipated. My mom regrets that she did not listen to me at the time.

There was one problem with my attraction to the stock market—I was too young to be a stockbroker. However I was just the right age as a child of the digital era to launch a business to help my classmates and older people with computer skills. I merged my love for computers and business into an enterprise in seventh grade. With a good friend, I founded Junior Genius Bar—a repair and advisory service for Apple products only. We charged $25 per job and made over $300 in a year.

Then came the summer before Eighth Grade when I spent much of my time around my older cousin, Wayne, a rapper. He introduced me to a new world and, as usual, I carried my business interests with me. I could not supress my entrepreneurial side as he showed me websites like all or Maui was in the making. I began to search for artists on my own to represent.

I did not have to look too far. My first artist, Jake Ressler, actually came to me. He was an Irish, muscular football player from New Jersey—not your typical rapper. I met him in camp and he asked me to teach him how to rap. I found a studio on Craigslist at a small (and very hot) studio in a Williamsburg warehouse. In our first three-hour session, we produced, mixed, and recorded Jake’s debut track, titled “Bully.”

Four years and many internships later, I was accepted into a high school program at the Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at NYU. It was the first time I merged my business interests with an academic environment where I was generally Nile. When I met my professor, he looked in my file and asked if I wanted to be called by my real name or Maui. For some reason, the classroom first made me feel like Clark Kent. I said “Nile.” When the class was sitting in a circle during our first session, we introduced ourselves.

“Hi, my name is Ni-”

I stopped and looked my professor.

“You sure you want to do this?” he said.

I continued. “Hi, my name is Maui.”

Nile Adams (or Maui) will be a freshman at New York University in the Fall and is a 2013 graduate of The Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School.

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