Hundreds of people flocked into The Loft at Gilley’s Dallas on a sunny Saturday, sporting their best spring fashions. Inside, an artist painted on stage while attendees viewed art exhibits or snacked on the balcony, taking in views of the Dallas skyline.
Sure, it was brunch in Dallas — but to the tune of Future, Migos, Young Jeezy and T.I.
Good Culture’s annual Bangers & Brunch is just one of the ways the networking group carries out its stated mission of defining urban millennial culture in Dallas. This year’s theme was “Young-N-Da-Trap,” paying homage to the southern sub-genre of rap known as “trap music.”
Good Culture is a collective media brand founded by Kenny Reeves and Terrance “T. Lee” Lee, Oak Cliff natives and former University of North Texas students who came upon the idea for the company in an unusual way.
When Reeves and Lee were college students, Reeves was an amateur boxer and Lee was his manager and promoter.
“I had fought all over D-FW, but I wanted to fight on campus at UNT,” Reeves said. “The only way we could do that is if we had our own organization. So we created Home Team Promotional Group to kind of serve as the vehicle for me to get a fight on campus with T. Lee as the promoter.”
Home Team grew in popularity and influence on campus as Reeves and Lee promoted events. After college, event promotion took a backseat as they moved into their next phase of life, but the itch to create a network of young black Dallasites remained.
“Life takes you in different directions after college,” Lee said. “Kenny was in grad school and I was engaged. We took a couple different paths to get back to where we were."
In October 2015, the former Home Team Promotional Group founders launched Good Culture with a podcast. Reeves and Lee wanted to be more than just event promoters, and their new company sought to embrace and elevate black and hip-hop culture in the city while appealing to the growing base of young professionals who grow up or migrate here.
It was through the podcast that the third member of the team, Lauren McMillan, joined in. McMillan is a Dallas entrepreneur, originally from Houston by way of Detroit, and who graduated from the University of Oklahoma. She’s a graphic designer at Arrogant Images and an event promoter at Netwerk & Chill.
The podcast covers a wide range of local and national topics in popular culture such as album releases and sports, and regularly includes interviews with local entrepreneurs and other noteworthy Dallas natives. McMillan said the podcast gives publicity and credibility to Good Culture events.
In addition to Bangers & Brunch, other Good Culture events include a monthly rap album discussion called Hip Hop Book Club and weekly happy hours.
"I really like how committed the group is to celebrating and staying connected to black folks in Dallas, especially the millennial crowd," said Lauren Whiteman, who works at UNT and recently attended Hip Hop Book Club. "They created a platform to have conversations and do things on a larger scale, and it really brings the community together."
Good Culture seeks to highlight people in Dallas who are making waves in art, culture or business. Fun events bring those people together for networking and collaboration.
“That’s what the Good Culture podcast stemmed from,” Reeves said. “Who is doing what in the city? Let’s bring them on our platform, treat them like celebrities for 20 or 30 minutes.
"Whatever we find to be impressive or think is dope, we want to put a magnifying glass on. Not just for our brand but for the other brands we bring on.”
While Good Culture is undoubtedly a Dallas brand, Reeves, Lee and McMillan have their sights set on exporting Dallas' identity to other cities. In the future, Bangers & Brunch could expand to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Oakland and Houston.
“I don’t think that on a national level, the proper attention is given to Dallas,” Reeves said. “Our mindset is that we’re going to take Dallas to you.”