I walked into a modest office with a view of the CBD to find Larry Morrow sitting behind a desk in his t-shirt, shorts, tennis and a hat. He looked up from his laptop and cracked a smile. Not an excited smile but a transition smile, from “I’m in my work zone” to “Oh, I’m not the only person in the room anymore”. It was what I expected, though. Seeing him at his events around the city over the years he never jumped off the page as the guy who would spend the entire night shaking hands and talking to everyone in the room. He had a certain focus in his steps that somehow translated into his stillness in the room, he saw me but was caught up in his own world.
Lesson #1: Don’t Judge A Book By its Cover
Larry Morrow, born and raised in the 7th Ward of New Orleans came from the mostly cliche minority, male, in an urban city story. “I was raised by my mother,my grandmother, my big sister , my real father was never really a part of my life. My stepdad, my mom’s husband, he was a big part of our life but he wasn’t really like that father-figure so mama really played that role of a mother and father.” Morrow started hustling his way through life many years before he was concerned with a driver’s license. “I was trying to come up with any hustle I could, see I was selling candy at St. Aug, selling Big Texas Cinnamon Rolls. Like I was really trying to sell life insurance to my homies at 17, it was like that Pyramid stuff.”
At this point, I had to ask if he was the [young] man in these streets. It was obvious he had quite a following early on. “Me and my friends we had a group called Young Stunnaz and we would throw these parties, well my friends mom would throw them for us. All these girls would come out, we were like high school celebrities. We were doing parties at Metro and had Curren$y to come out and perform, and we were just like 15 or 16. Back then that was major to have Curren$y and McMain come out.” The Bonnabell High graduate even started a clothing line with friends, called Chump Change after high school. “People were rocking my shirts, that kind of started building my brand and then I turned 20 and did a birthday party and I made a lot of money. I was doing a lot, trying different things, I wasn’t afraid to lose. People are scared to take risks but that’s how I figured out what I liked and what I could do. Honestly, I’m not that guy, I’m pretty shy, some would say timid.”
Lesson #2: “When the odds are stacked against you, roll the dice, but always make the best bet – bet it all on you.”
So how does a teenager have the money to start a clothing line and throw parties at the Metro? That question began bubbling early in the conversation and I wondered if this semi-cliche story was about to come full circle. “I used to shoot dice with my friends. My best friend taught me how to shoot when i was 10 years old. We were from Gentilly and the 7th Ward and his dad had a barbershop, Durio’s House of Style, we grew up gambling, we would shoot dice from sun up to sun down. That was like a job for us, we started off shooting dollars and then it was 20-bet-20, 40-bet-40 and then shooting hundreds. I was able to make or lose money at a young age. We had a pot and somebody was going to walk away with it, they were coming back with that same money to gamble again, though. I was like the cheap one. They bought clothes and shoes, I would save my money. I liked the thought of just having it versus being fly.”
There is a photo on Larry’s Instagram page with Draya. The comment below is one that for the first time makes many people stop seeing him as an event promoter with the hottest people on TV and your radio to a normal person with a past. I was curious as to what specific event took place that gave him the confidence to take this leap of faith. Was it spiritual awakening? A financial deal he couldn’t pass up? There was obviously a strong motivating force behind such an immense change in path.
#TBT 😂😂 me & my girl @drayamichele 6 years ago.. My very first time ever booking any one to host. From this I learned the value of where solid relationships can take you.. Draya, @mercedehallen @jasmin_jaye showed me around LA for the first time and introduce me to people I’m still cool with till this day. At this point in my life I was only 20 and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do and was still trying to figure it all out. I took a leap of faith, put it all in GOD’s hands, quit both of my jobs and dropped out of school to make more money to help my family. Fast forward to now and I’m beyond happy with the decisions and the path GOD has chose for me. Moral of the story… Put all your faith in the man above & trust the process no matter how bumpy your journey gets 🙏🏽
“My family is Asian, my mother is Black and Korean and my grandmother is full Korean, she and my grandmother moved here from Korea. I was born here, but the gambling is in my blood. I grew up seeing my family gamble all the time. (Enter new cliche: The Asian community is well-known as high rollers in the casino). I went from shooting dice with my friends to gambling at the real casino [Harrah’s]. It wasn’t like someone who hasn’t gambled, losing for the first time. It was something I became immune to, alright I will get it back I’d say. I became numb to that. So, when I went to the casino, it was like a high. I never did any drugs; no pills no weed, but i knew what it felt like =to be addicted. I was 21 spending all my time in there and it had me stressed out, I was making and losing my money all the time. I lost everything one night, all the money I’d saved up, I lost it all in one night. It was a large amount of money, especially to be 22 years old. After that I said you know what, I’m hustling backwards, I can’t get ahead by losing all my money. I have to make this transition, start investing in me, making more calculated risks. It was a transition I had to make, I couldn’t continue doing things where the odds were against me. I had a lot on my plate then, I was the man of the house at 18, 19. My mother had divorced from my step-father years before this so I was the one taking care of the family. I was working as a lifeguard during the day, a valet at night and going to Tulane. I dropped out and just went hard with what I was doing.”
“It was like the best and worst year of my life, because I lost so much but I learned so much and it was like God was teaching me, you know what I mean, he was humbling me and I learned passion in the midst of that, I was trying to obtain so much at an early age. I was trying to get everything at that moment, but I realized, your 22 you have the rest of your life to do these things. That was dead weight, life has been so much better since I left that alone”
Lesson #4: Be Humble, Sit Down
For sake of time, we’ll fast forward some because Larry has an entire book with all the other good stuff for you to peruse at your pleasure. Yes, he is an author and All Bets On Me is available for purchase on iTunes folks. It documents his journey from a young child until his life now at 26.
Morrow left casino gambling alone but found another opportunity right in the same casino. He began booking events at Masquerade and set out to find big names to host his events. “It made more sense to save this money to book someone for the party then to lose it gambling it away, I figured if lose it this way at least I was working toward building my brand.” While enjoying and scouting out in L.A. he found himself standing in Sean “Diddy” Combs’ house, having breakfast prepared by the mogul’s chef one morning. Let’s all stop and let that sink in. What were you doing at 20 years old? I won’t bore you with my Xavierite “party” stories or late nights studying. Larry was standing in his idols house overlooking the city. And just a few years later, “Hey mom guess who I booked to host our next party?” He had to ask his mom not to tell everyone she knew before the ink dried. Of course, that was hard to keep to herself, knowing this had been her son’s idol since he was very young.
How does one stay humble and grounded in the life of a successful event promoter? Well, that’s where his shy and timid persona come into play. He believes in keeping relationships with people, being honest and providing a quality product. “I have to admit, I’ve probably missed out on making stronger contacts with some of the people who I work with just because I don’t want to be that guy asking for pictures and autographs, I want things to happen organically. Honestly, sometimes I’m may be too chill. That’s something I struggle with.” In a small city like New Orleans, relationships are a major key to success. “I believe you should worry more about the relationship than the money. A lot of people don’t see it that way. I’ve had to step away from opportunities and even a business partner because of that. I just really believe in nurturing relationships. I’ve seen the results of doing bad business, I’ve learned from that. I’m not here to scam people. I believe in doing good business”
Morrow’s family is a big part of what keeps him grounded. “My mother is like my best friend. That was one of the hardest things for me to write about in my book. Some of the personal issues we’ve had over the years. I do not want anyone taking it the wrong way. She’s amazing. If it weren’t for my mom, grandmother and my big sister I’m not sure where I’d be today.”
Lesson #5: Sleep is for the Weary
We now know that on a normal day Larry is sitting behind his desk in comfortable clothes, probably plotting and planning. If you didn’t know, he’s got a lot of planning happening just about every day. In the late fall/early winter he will be opening the doors to “Morrow’s Nola” a restaurant he has dreamed up and helped build with his own hands. The concept takes the undeniable flavors of New Orleans and combines it with the feel of a Los Angeles lounge for those on the scene. He will also be gearing up for a Merry Morrow Christmas where he teams up with local players to adopt a family and fulfill the needs of their wish lists. After that, he might put on his contractor’s hat and be working on his real estate properties but not before he gets everything tight for his annual birthday bash with Angela Yee, The All Black Affair. (Anyone else needs a quick break to catch your breath?)
Lesson #6: Passion Defies Lies
Typically, I send my interview questions over by email. My regular work schedule doesn’t always allow me to make it out for sit-downs. But I have to say a special thank you to Jonathan “JT” Thomas, a publicist and Larry’s business partner, who asked for an in-person interview. As I wrapped this up and turned my recorder off Larry turned to me and asked, “So what did you think?” I started talking about how inspired I was by his story and how I was impressed by everything he’d done in just 26 years. He stopped me and said, “No I mean how did I interview? Was it okay?”
Many times you hear seasoned artists say that before they go on stage they are nervous, sometimes overly anxious, sometimes they feel like throwing up. Then you’ll hear it’s because they are so excited about stepping out onto that stage or into an interview. “I get so weird in front of cameras,” Morrow says, “I just don’t want the wrong thing to come out.” While that was off the record, I felt it was important to include. It speaks to how passionate he is about what he does and how he carries himself. Not because he wants to “look good” but because he really cares and loves what he does. I looked up at a picture on his wall of he and Diddy and remarked about how cool this and all of the other pictures on the wall were. I then asked where he saw himself in the next 20 years, ” Hopefully like a Diddy, taking that next big step.” I couldn’t help but ask how he felt about being the guy a young man one day looks up to and can’t believe he’s been graced with his presence, he smiled, okay no he was cheesing pretty hard, but as if he could see it.