Saleem Ahmed, CC '07, doesn't listen to Kanye West just because he likes his music.

Ahmed, who is rarely seen without his headphones, cares much more West's career as a music-maker.

"I look a lot more to producers than to artists," Ahmed said. "Kanye was a millionaire before he began to perform."

Making music has been a passion of Ahmed's since he came to Columbia. He turned his hobby into a position as the former vice president of CU Records, where he transformed the organization known only to those in the loop into a campus-wide phenomenon.

The economics major and amateur beat-maker heard about the club at the end of his sophomore year. He asked a friend of a friend to help him join, and he was hooked.

Last year, as vice president, he brought the club to campus prominence, turning the organization into a training ground for those interested in going into the music industry by emphasizing marketing, events, and artist exposure.

"When we took over, we hyped it up because we could," he said. "We had a different philosophy [then the former president]. We built CU Records from the ground up."

His passion, Ahmed said, is for "cool ideas turned ... into a really cool event." He pointed to Chicken and Rifles-where students went to JJ's Place for free chicken, and Halo-playing and a Mixology lesson from Scratch Records-as examples.

Ahmed has Ghanian roots but grew up in Connecticut with his family. It was his older brother, a graduate of the class of 2006, who first introduced him to the University.

"Where he goes, I go," Saleem said, explaining why he choose to apply here.

He's made the most of his time at Columbia. Besides helping to run CU Records, Ahmed played lacrosse and junior varsity basketball and participated in the Muslim Students Association and the Black Students Organization. After graduation, he will work at an investment banking firm in Connecticut.

While he said he enjoys investment banking, he hopes to one day return to making music.

"I would love to make a lot of money, then use it to build a record label," Ahmed said. "I want to just create music."

-Amanda Erickson


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