5 Innovators I Went To High School With

5 Innovators I Went To High School With

When looking to launch careers many look to relocate to cities such as Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. Unfortunately, this practice has lead many to believe that these are the only cities where real talent can be found. Surprisingly, there is a lot of talent coming from my hometown of Columbus, OH. It’s rare for people to acknowledge the greatness coming from my city. Not only is there a surge of impressive talent coming out of Columbus, but some of the most prominent local stars in town are also former classmates of mine. The game-changing innovators below are all friends that I have had the pleasure of watching grow. These gentlemen have monetized their passions, taken risks and made waves as businessmen all based in Columbus.

Jamaal Ridley – MOUF Worldwide


If you’re from Columbus and have never heard of MOUF, chances are, you’re not really from Columbus. Manifesting OUr Future or MOUF (as it is commonly known as) is a movement. The movement is spearheaded by Jamaal Ridley who I had the pleasure of meeting during my first week of high school. Jamaal has always been wickedly creative, fun and innovative; it is safe to say that MOUF is a passion-filled venture combining all of his best attributes. The movement started on the campus of Ohio University since its creation, MOUF has been spotted all over the world. The MOUF online store consists of hats, t-shirts, and hoodies all symbolizing phrases and jargon used by Jamaal and his friends.  Everyone seems to have a MOUF product in Ohio, with this impressive success it will be interesting to see the national cultural impact that MOUF produces next.

To learn more about the MOUF Worldwide movement visit: http://moufworldwide.com/shop/

Dominique McKnight – Photographer

Dominique McKnight is a freelance photographer. His work features exquisite photography showcasing everyday people in Columbus, OH. Dominique’s eye for aesthetics, scenery, and symmetry create excellent photographs. His portfolio includes engagement photos, fashion photo shoots and much more. Dominique is not just a fantastic photographer by a professional and friendly person to work with as well. It will be interesting to see where Dominique’s passion and work ethic will take him next.

To view some of Dominique’s photos check out his Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/_domalexander/

Daniel Turnbo – TrigNo


In high school, Daniel “Trig” Turnbo was known as the best dancer in our high school. At every talent show, ice cream social and gathering it was expected that Trig would dance and captivate the entire school. The days of Trig dancing at The Charles School are long gone as he is currently pursuing his new passion for music. On November 13th, Trig released his project, Rawest4m alongside local talent, Sean Starks. The body of work is smooth, refreshing and different from the repetitive trends that saturate the mainstream world of Hip-Hop. Some of my favorite cuts from Rawest 4m are “ScreeningCalls,” “TryMe” and “Liquify.” Trig has already accomplished impressive success on Soundcloud, if he continues putting out work similar to that of Rawest4m, Trig has bigger success headed his way shortly.

To listen to the awe-inspiring music of Trig check out his Soundcloud page at https://soundcloud.com/trigknow/albums

Jaylen Poland – JPVisuals

When looking for a photographer to shoot the cover of my book, “Dealing With This Thing Called Life” there was one man I knew I wanted to work with. Jaylen Poland is an accomplished photographer and innovator in Columbus, OH. His work features live events, professional headshots and city life. Jaylen’s eye for intersecting high fashion models with edgy, grimy street elements is impressive and inspiring. As long as I have known Jaylen, he has always been a young man on a mission, focused on pursuing his dreams. Jaylen is not just a man with a camera but a scholar of photography continually learning new camera skills and perfecting his craft. He often works with Dominique McKnight, and the two are some of the best to ever touch the camera. For anyone looking for a photographer in Columbus, these two photographers have my highest recommendation.

To check out some of Jaylen’s photography visit: https://www.instagram.com/jpvisuals__/

James “Big James” Henry – Rapper/Performer

Arguably the most notable star to come out of our high school, Big James continually leaves crowds in awe with his passionate performances and witty lyricism. On November 2, he released a song entitled, “Crushing” which has amassed over 1,000 streams on Soundcloud respectively.  Soundcloud streams are nothing new for Big James as songs from his project NASAGOLD have been streamed over 10,000 times. Big James’ songs have a theme of authenticity and possess musical elements that are eccentric. Big James is a marketing powerhouse and multi-dimensional artist creating club bangers such as “Freak Show” and “Final Fantasy” while producing other songs that are more soulful like “Aquarium.”  The artistry of Big James is fascinating and will continue to resonate with audiences. These mainstream rappers better step their game up quickly because, by the looks of it, Big James is not taking his foot off the gas anytime soon.

To listen to Big James’ Albums visit: https://soundcloud.com/bigjamesdope

All of the men above have influenced me to continue to grind and pursue my passions. It is wild to think that at one time all six of us attended the same charter school. If we all continue to put out great work, I’m sure there will be even bigger heights that we all will reach. Our career paths go to show that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are; anything is possible to him that believes.