Dexter Suhn x ThankGod4Cody: SZA’s Grammy Award-Winning Music Producer Visits Harvard

On March 6, ThankGod4Cody, Grammy award-winning music producer of SZA’s R&B album “SOS,” visited Harvard to engage in an intimate and candid conversation with students about his artistry and the reality of his climb to make it up the music industry ladder. The event featured a surprise virtual appearance from SZA herself. The Q&A, moderated by Dexter S. Griffin ’27 (known as Dexter Suhn), was followed by an audience Q&A. The evening was a labor of love co-produced by Suhn with support from the Harvard Foundation, OFA, Hutchins Center, and leadership from the Harvard BSA, BMF, and Black Arts Collective. Suhn extended his gratitude to these organizations along with production partner Marvin Baclig, coordinators Candace J. Howe ’27 and Amara R. Howard ’27, his friends, family, supporters, and all who contributed to making the event possible.

Inspired by No Label, a music non-profit founded at Harvard, Suhn aimed to bring ThankGod4Cody to inspire students and shed light on the realities of the music industry.

“I think a lot of times only the accomplishments get highlighted and the uphill battle that you have to fight to get there is not given as much attention. They always say behind every overnight success is 10 years of hard work,” said Suhn, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the reality of being in the music and entertainment industry.

Attendees gathered in Emerson Hall, fostering a sense of community as they bonded over music and food. Building connections among attendees was a key aspect for Suhn. “I like bringing people together,” he said.

Building connections among attendees was a key aspect for Suhn.

The evening commenced with a personal video message from SZA expressing her admiration for Cody: “You can’t buy, teach, or explain his insight and his mind on sound. Honor to know him. Honor to love him. Enjoy Cody. Love y’all. Bye Harvard.”

Suhn and Cody then delved into Cody’s Memphis upbringing and his early passion for music. He shared anecdotes of his humble beginnings and emphasized his relentless determination to succeed in the face of adversity.

“From the jump, I just always messed with music,” said Cody. “I remember in seventh grade, my parents got me this keyboard and I was making a melody and my family was like ‘Oooh that’s your heart right there,’’’ he added.

From couch-surfing and living in a cramped house with other Top Dawg Entertainment — an independent record label specializing in Hip Hop and R&B — artists to facing financial struggles and being arrested in 2020 at a Black Lives Matter protest, Cody described how he maintained commitment to his art.

Reflecting on his journey, Cody emphasized the importance of self-belief and confidence, stating, “You gotta be your biggest supporter and inspiration. You gotta be undoubtedly believing in yourself. Like you gotta just be knowing that you the one.”

Expanding on what motivated him to stay focused on making music, Cody said, “Basically I had no choice. It was either clean or chase my dreams and I was not finna be cleaning offices.”

The conversation also touched upon Cody’s relationship with SZA, spanning from their initial meeting to their work on her acclaimed 2017 album “ctrl” and Grammy-winning “SOS” album.

Cody’s journey provided valuable insight and sparked inspiration in many students.

“What I learned from hearing from his perspective is that he locked in with one thing and didn’t allow himself to have a Plan B,” said musician Jaeschel O. Acheampong ’24.

Acheampong’s perspective on art was changed as he said, “knowing I want to do music makes me realize how much more attention I should focus on the things that matter to me.”

“Especially his background was super inspiring because he came from nothing and he was able to provide himself a platform and collaborate with amazing artists,” said Ebun A. Oguntola ’27 who has a background in music composition.

Singer-songwriter Anya E. Movius ’27 walked away from the event having gained clarity about the sometimes intimidating music industry from Cody’s experience.

“Any opportunity that you can get to talk to someone who has made it happen from themselves and who knows the ins and outs of the industry is always going to be something that’s really helpful and special,” Movius said.

From SZA’s guest appearance to Cody’s charismatic story-telling, good music, and good company, the event was truly a special experience. Cody’s motivational story impacted attendees as they left having gained renewed artistic drive and determination. The event breathed a new life into the spirit of music and creativity at Harvard, and Suhn intends to keep this alive with plans to produce more events like these in the future.

From SZA’s guest appearance to Cody’s charismatic story-telling, good music, and good company, the event was truly a special experience.

From SZA’s guest appearance to Cody’s charismatic story-telling, good music, and good company, the event was truly a special experience. By Courtesy of Lauren E. Mei

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

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