Niles headshot w/ mic

b&b132 #DeadDayJobArmy ‘Niles’ on how to reinvent yourself in the midst of failure and depression

Welcome to the #DeadDayJobArmy, a monthly Brunch & Budget series where entrepreneurs and freelancers of Color share their stories and talk about the real. We ask folks to leave their shiny pictures and instagram highlights at the door and tell us what it’s really like to do the work, put in the time, and devote your life to your work.

Niles invited us into his home in Minneapolis and got super real with us! He shares his story from moving to NYC, feeling on top of the world in his career, tasting success, and, at the same time, getting an eviction notice from his apartment.

He talks very frankly about going into a depression, moving back to Minneapolis, and reinventing and rebuilding himself and his creative business in his hometown. He is the ultimate creative entrepreneur and renaissance man, running a Hip Hop education company, a monthly show called the Avant Garde, and continue to produce music.

His story is raw and inspiring and will motivate you to keep pushing through!


It’s not easy to start your own business and it’s even harder when it feels like you have to explain to your family what you do every time you see them, when you walk into an event and can count on one hand the PoC in the room, when you try to ask for what you’re worth, but don’t want to get passed over for the next person.

Chadwick “Niles” Phillips was born and raised in Lansing, MI as the son of legendary jazz and symphony orchestra bassist Sam Gill. Being a renaissance man within the world of the arts, he is a hip-hop artist, producer, director, event host, motivational speaker, teacher of his own curriculum entitled Hip-Hop, History and The Arts, and the CEO/Founder of The Avant Garde, LLC. Upon graduating from Michigan State University in 2006, Niles moved to New York City to pursue a career in music, film, and education.

While in NYC, the following was accomplished: Won the “Who’s Next”/ HOT 97 Talent Search in 2006, released a single on the major label Koch Records, won the Harlem Rapathon contest, performed at HOT 97 Summer Jam (07′, 08′), opened bills for artists Talib Kweli, KRS-One, DJ Premier vs. DJ Scratch (Summer Jam 08′), Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, and many more.

After switching gears and moving to the Twin Cities in 2010, Niles hosted the legendary Poet’s Groove Open Mic in Minneapolis for 2 ½ years strong along with many high profile events throughout the Twin Cities. Such events included hosting and performing in a show with Jay Electronica at Cabooze. His Hip-Hop, History and The Arts curriculum has released two youth music recording projects (The Next Move album with the High School for Recording Arts, and the My Generation EP with FAIR School Downtown). With The Avant Garde, he has presented a multitude of successful events at the Bedlam Lowertown, Como Dockside Pavilion, Dakota Jazz Club, and The State Theater to name a few. Niles will be releasing his highly anticipated debut album entitled “To Remain” in Fall 2016.