February 2018 Cover Story 

How Coach K Guides Atlanta’s Hip-Hop Stars

It’s the day after the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, and the members of Quality Control Music have to put their tuxedos back on. We’re awaiting the arrival of label heads Coach K and Pee, the Grammy-nominated Migos, and Lil Yachty at a spacious Brooklyn warehouse for a cover shoot and interview. I’m anxiously pacing. I’ve met them all—before Yachty’s breakout and the meteoric rise of Migos—but their most recent interaction with Complex launched a thousand memes. I’d like to avoid that.

As I march about, I imagine an exuberant caravan of rappers, managers and friends, all making an elaborate entrance—something like a hip-hop presidential motorcade. These are superstars, after all. QC is, at this moment, one of the most respected (and lucrative) collectives in rap and, in Migos and Yachty, genuine celebrities. But my expectations of everyone materializing in a single post-party, weed-scented, well-choreographed tornado are dashed. Instead, this close-knit family’s arrivals are staggered, separate.

Quality Control’s founders, COO Kevin “Coach K” Lee and CEO Pierre “Pee” Thomas, are the first to arrive. The pair are all business, scanning the room in search of the decision-maker. Coach K is a towering figure whose grey beard, direct eye-contact, and tranquil demeanor elicit respect. Pee, a man who looks younger than he likely is, keeps his shades on indoors for much, much longer than someone whose day job isn’t finding, signing, and managing superstar rappers.