Musical upbringing leads to local college student to start his own music empire.

By Jer’Mykeal McCoy

Phresh & Professional

NASHVILLE – Some of the greatest names in hip-hop growing up credit music icons from Run DMC to Marvin Gaye, but the band, Kiss, isn’t the inspiration for most hip-hop label creators. Meet DeShawn Oravetz, 22, the founder of Imperium Music Group.

Deshawn pic1

DeShawn Oravetz, the Founder of Imperium Music Group

In November 2010, while taking a music survey class at Middle Tennessee State University, Oravets studied how the music industry took advantage of the very artist they signed. These problems lead him to a solution – creating a music label that gives the artists control.  With this revamped business model, Oravetz envisioned having music artists that were not back merely by a label, but a family. Thus vision of IMG was on born.

The Knoxville, Tenn. native is a senior in his last semester at MTSU, majoring in recording industry audio production, who credits his uncle for his love of music.

“It all derived from my uncle and Kiss – literally. I grew and understood why everyone loves music,” said Oravetz. “My uncle had a passion and love for rock metal music like Kiss.” He also stated that he did not get into hip-hop until middle school.

What started as an in-class thought in 2010, officially became a label in August 2012. The name for IMG came on Oravetz’s last day in his music course. He said he choose name “Imperium” because it means “empire” in Latin.

IMG banner

With his imperial vision, came Oravetz’s first two artists, Mariyo Deon and TK Tha Kid, both who are making strides in their young careers and who shared a high school bond with Oravets.

“I’ve known DeShawn for awhile, not to mention we went to the same high school,” said IMG artist, Mariyo Deon, on his relationship with Oravetz. “Imperium has been a long time in the making. It feels great to be a part of an establishment that is currently on the rise, and I look forward to this year for IMG as well as for myself”

IMG's Mariyo Deon, Photo Courtesy of Imperium Music Group

IMG’s Mariyo Deon, Photo Courtesy of Imperium Music Group

Mariyo Deon graduated from high school several years before Oravetz, but attended his basketball practices from time to time. One day, the rapper reached out to Oravets after hearing about his musical ambitions. The two joined forces and Oravets credits Deon for being the “main ingredient in the [IMG] launch.”

Last December, Deon and IMG released the mixtape, Who Is Mariyo Deon Vol. 2 hosted by DJ POP DUKEZ, generating buzz in the online community. To date, the mixtape has received over 19,000 views and nearly reaching 4500 downloads on the popular mixtape website, Deon’s single “Feel Good/Who Is” has received almost 16,000 hits on YouTube.

TK and Oravetz have known each other since middle school and graduated high school together in 2009. After graduation, the two parted ways with TK going to Ohio University and Oravetz to MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Working on-and-off together during school breaks, Oravetz began to see potential in TK, who is also a rapper. Then this past fall, TK decided to transfer to MTSU giving Oravetz and IMG the necessary pieces to build a label.

“When it comes to DeShawn, even though we are the same age I look up to him for his knowledge and dedication to himself, myself, and the brand he is building – Imperium Music Group,” said IMG artist, TK Tha Kid. “It was a big motivation factor to know someone was really taking notice to my talents.”

The IMG Team: TK Tha Kid (Left), DeShawn Oravetz (middle), and Mariyo Deon (right)

The IMG Team: TK Tha Kid (Left), DeShawn Oravetz (middle), and Mariyo Deon (right)

“I want people who are focused in IMG”, said Oravets, on what he seeks from artist in his label.

TK also released his mixtape, We Good, his first with IMG this past October.

With the focus of Oravets, he manages IMG’s major departments: marketing, distribution, production, and manufacturing. He stated that in the next five to seven years, he wants to have a house for IMG with a professional studio, more songwriters, and cinematographers.

He also is seeking to bring on affiliates to IMG, allowing artist to be not as obligated to the label.

“Foundation is driven of freedom,” said Oravets. “There’s no constraints with IMG, compared to a major label.”

Recent music video of Mariyo Deon promoting his next installment of  the Who is Mariyo Deon series, Volume 3:

Contact Jer’Mykeal McCoy at or leave a comment below. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @truerealmccoy. 


4 thoughts on “Musical upbringing leads to local college student to start his own music empire.

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