James Cruz is President of Artist Management and Head of Strategic Partnerships at Combs Enterprises. He has been part of Mr. Combs’ team, off and on, for 18 years. In addition to managing Mr. Combs, James overseas the Ciroc and DeLeon marketing to Hispanic audiences and was instrumental in bringing AQUAhydrate and Deleon to the company portfolio. As part of Bad Boy, he has played a key role in the careers of global superstars including Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and French Montana while advising many others.
In addition to this role at Bad Boy, James is the CEO of his own marketing company ‘James Control Entertainment’ which consults for Brand Jordan, 1-800 Flowers and Showtime Sports, where James leads strategy and promotions for the network’s boxing programming.
James began working in the music industry as an intern under then resident Ed Eckstein at Mercury Records in 1992. After that, he was Northeast Regional Marketing Manager for Universal Distribution this giving him a true taste of the music business. Later he joined Reebok as an Urban Marketing Manager and developed marketing for Allan Iverson, part of an ground breaking overall strategy that successfully re-invigorated urban lifestyle sales for the brand. James was also part of Reebok International’s global marketing team as well, helping to revitalize its urban division. In 1998, James joined Bad Boy Entertainment full time as National Promotions Director and four years later joined Violator Management as SVP of Marketing and Promotions, playing a critical role in advancing the careers of superstars including 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, LL Cool J, and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. James also launched Violator Marketing Group and helped to secure endorsement deals for 50 Cent with Pontiac, Vitamin Water and Reebok; aligning and branding Missy Elliot with Adidas; as well as Busta Rhymes with Pepsi Co.’s Mountain Dew and Courvoisier.
In Spring 2008, James was named President of SRC Marketing Group, leading brand management, marketing execution and content creation for corporate clients including Sandisk and UFC, and artists signed to the SRC/Universal Records joint venture, suchg as Grammy-winning singer Akon and rising stars Asher Roth and Melanie Fiona. James re-joined Bad Boy Entertainment to start Bad Boy Management in 2009.
James was voted as one of the 100 Most Powerful Latinos in Entertainment and landed on the Source’s prestigious Power 30 list, recognizing the most powerful and influential individual in the music industry. James is actively involved in his community through ongoing charity work, the mentoring of young aspiring industry executives and speaking engagements throughout the country. He also recently secured a partnership with Google to launch his own 123unodostres YouTube channel with Jessy Terrero and develop custom content geared specifically to the Latino community.
A Brooklyn born, NY native of Puerto Rican decent, James originally eyed a career in Major League Baseball, before an injury forced him to give up the sport. He is a huge sports fan and an avid fisherman. He resides in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.