This Music Executive’s Dream BMW is Straight From Classic Hip-Hop

The Four Percent


Kevin “Coach K” Lee, 49, co-founder and COO of Atlanta-based Quality Control Music, the record label that is home to hip-hop acts Migos, Lil Baby, City Girls and others, on his 1989

BMW

E30 M3 Cabriolet, as told to Mike Jordan.

Three years ago, I was on the computer looking to get a nice ’80s BMW. My business partner at Quality Control Music went and bought the car I was looking at: a 1989 E30 M3. He surprised me for my birthday. He was sneaky about it.

Coming from where I come from, Indianapolis, Ind., low-income housing and that type of environment, you don’t see Fortune 500 companies. When a young guy, a street entrepreneur, went and got one of these BMWs, it was like seeing a unicorn. I used to go to New York when I was younger. Those were the cars that the hustlers drove. If you had one of those BMWs, you were that guy, you know?


Photos: A BMW That’s ‘a Unicorn’

Kevin ‘Coach K’ Lee shows off his 1989 BMW E30 M3 Cabriolet

The 1989 BMW E30 M3 convertible, purchased for Kevin ‘Coach K’ Lee for his birthday by his business partner Pierre Thomas, features Diamond Black Metallic exterior paint and 16-inch BBS wheels.

Lynsey Weatherspoon for The Wall Street Journal

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To have an M3 back then, you had to be a doctor, a lawyer, businessman, athlete or a street entrepreneur. Financing for those cars back then was not like it is now. With the banks, there are now a lot of different finance and lease options. Back then you either had to cash out for the car, or there were a lot of hoops and things you had to go through.

So when I got older and had success, I wanted one. I watched the market. I’m an art collector, and all of these cars are appreciative assets; they’re pieces of art. It’s like a Basquiat painting. And it’s beautifully made. The horsepower: it was very fast. It came off the line with a body kit on it. When I got the car, a lot of car enthusiasts didn’t believe it was real. They were like, “Oh, he put that together. He had a kit.” No, no, no. That’s how the car came off the line.

When you get in those cars, it’s like getting into a time machine. You have to be playing time period music, and your attire has to match the time of the car. And the music: I might pull up playing Loose Ends’ “Hangin’ on a String,” or Eric B. & Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke” or Biz Markie’s “Vapors” wearing a Sergio Tacchini tracksuit—an Italian sweatsuit of that time period. It’s music, it’s fashion, it’s art, it’s cultural.

All I do is work. I love developing artists, I love building our company, I love film and television, and I love music. At Uptown Car Club [an Atlanta-based social club for owners of luxury 1980s-1990s vehicles and associated hip-hop culture], this is the first time in a long time that I took on a hobby I really enjoy—finding these cars, building them back up and working on them. It’s about the cars, but it’s also a lifestyle brand and it’s growing fast.

I love the leather in the car, man. It’s never been redone and it’s so pristine—the light blue and red M3 markings on the car seats. And I love that it’s an electric top. A lot of those convertibles back then, you had to pull it up and push it back, you had to do it yourself. But it’s electric, man. When you’re pulling the top up to lock your car, the looks you get are so crazy. It’s amazing.

Write to Mike Jordan at myride@wsj.com

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