Wu-Tang Clan is known globally for their lyrical kung fu references, heavy rhythms and songs like, "C.R.E.A.M." Recently they've been in the news because "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli bought what is purported to be one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Album for a reported $2 million.
But in the 1990s, Wu-Tang was a Staten Island rap group rising to fame. And Adolfo LaCola, a star of CNBC's "Staten Island Hustle," was their business operations guy, working closely with Method Man and Ghostface Killah.
"Negotiating deals, checking out the contracts ... just dealing the whole business end of the music industry, marketing, promotion you know," LaCola tells CNBC Make It. "That was all me."
In 1999, LaCola became the chairman of the board and a co-owner of Ghostface Killah's record label, Stark Enterprises.
But for LaCola, the son of Italian immigrants, landing a gig with the hip hop legends began with a dream and a side-hustle he picked up at 13.
"We're totally different on Staten Island, we have a different walk, a different talk," LaCola tells CNBC of the often forgotten New York City borough, whose residents have a sometimes rough but scrappy reputation. "We've been hustling since we were in diapers."
Indeed, growing up, LaCola remembers often trying to turn a nickle into a dime. He would move whatever he could get his hands on, from hawking fireworks to selling kids in the school cafeteria the homemade sandwiches his family packed him for lunch.
But he was the most passionate about DJing.
"I was very intrigued [by] how one song bled into the other song on radio," LaCola tells CNBC Make It. "As a kid, my mom bought me one of those plastic record players. She bought me the blue one, [and bought] my sister the red one.
"I figured out how to put them together and kind of let one song bleed into the next," he explains.
Determined, LaCola scraped together the equipment he would need to produce music himself.
"My mom bought me a turntable for Christmas, my sister got me the mixer [and] I won a skate contest in Brooklyn to buy the records, the final turntable, the amp and speakers," he explains.