Much of a hip hop artist’s content comes from their realities: past, present, and future. For many, the past includes becoming the King of the corner, and hustling their way to the top of that hierarchy. The present includes the new luxuries of their lives, an upgrade through their business savvy. As hip hop artists grow in importance, the future horizons present images of business mastery. The hustle that helped to create them back then is now helping them retain relevance. Here are 5 artists who are are navigating the business side to hip hop with ease.
5. Kanye West
Kanye West once rapped “You know white people; get money don’t spend it. Or maybe they, get money buy a business. I’d rather buy 80 gold chains and go ig’nant”. Apart from being some of the worst monetary advice to follow, it seems that Kanye has done just that- and it’s only made him more money. Kanye’s business savvy lies in his eccentricities and his connections. It doesn’t matter if you hate him or love him, because you can’t stop talking about him. This means that he doesn’t have to try as hard to stay relevant, because the people do it for him. And when they don’t, his wife does. West is making waves in both the fashion and music world. His Nike deal produced the stunning “Red Octobers“, and his new deal with Adidas brought us the limited edition “Yeezy Boosts“. His allegiance has certainly changed, and he’ll be the first to tell you about the new Adidas reign:
When Kanye isn’t doing clothes, he’s doing music, and is an extremely decorated artist at that. With his own record label, GOOD Music, he has signed artists like John Legend and Big Sean. He’s not a stranger to award shows either, and his stunts have left him lauded and criticized. The more somber and happy Ye can be found by Kim Kardashian, his wife and social media queen. This partnership shows Ye in some of his most tender moments: footsies with his daughter, and actually smiling while getting an honorary Doctorate. Do you love or hate the guy?!
4. 50 Cent
He got “a mill out the deal, and [he’s] still on the grind”. 50 Cent is a true born hustler, and it has only made him a better business man. He rose to fame during the growth of gangsta rap, and released one of hip hop’s most highly praised albums, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Taking the former route, his heavy success brought him deals on deals, such as his G-Unit clothing line collaboration with Ecko. Even as gangsta rap dwindled in popularity, 50 retained relevance through his hustle. In 2007, Coca Cola bought VitaminWater parent company Glaceau, which 50 had a 5% stake in. He made a cool 200 million, while the company was bought for 4.1 billion dollars. He now has ventures in SM Audio, and SK Energy, an energy drink company. One of his latest ventures is his promotion of Effen Vodka. The conflict of earlier days hasn’t been bred out of him, as he is constantly hash tagging #nopuffyjuice to take Diddy and Ciroc head on. 50’s only inadequacy lies in his social media use- he hashtags every brand that he promotes on every post. When you’re worth 250 million, however, people seem to look past that.
3. Jay Z
“He’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man”. Jay Z’s hustle has been long and strong, and boy has it been fruitful. From Roc Nation, to clothing lines, to a stake in the Nets, it seems as if the only place Jay Z hasn’t been is on the bottom. He currently owns Armand de Brignac, known as Ace of Spades, a premium champagne line that he acquired from Sovereign brands. His wife runs the world, making them a power couple beyond reason- Beyonce once sang “Of course sometimes some shit goes down when there’s a billion dollars on the elevator”. Coming up from success as a drug dealer, Jay Z is now dealing things like paintings instead. He makes a smooth transition from crack to carats, and has managed to strike deals with companies like HBO to demonstrate how far his tastes have come. A deal with Samsung helped him sell 1 million albums (Magna Carta Holy Grail) before it even dropped. Both deals have helped to elevate Jay from rapper to artist to icon. The only questionable decision he’s ever made has been purchasing “Tidal”, a music streaming service, which still receives much criticism from fans of free music.
2. P. Diddy
From humble beginnings as Puff Daddy, to mogul status as P. Diddy, Sean Combs seems to have it all- especially the magic touch when it comes to making the right business decisions. With an estimated worth of 735 million dollars, he’s the guy you want on your team when you need to make it in the world. Just ask the creators of Ciroc, a premium vodka brand, who were selling 40,000 cases before the arrival of Diddy. Now, Diddy receives half of the brands profits, and has helped Ciroc sell over 2 million cases a year. Diddy has now taken his talents to De Leon tequila, and is on a mission to put Patron out of business. Diddy seems to have a knack for beverages, as he also markets AquaHydrate water. With the way things are going for Diddy, we may just need to change the way we mark time- BD and AD. Before Diddy, and After Diddy.
1. Dr. Dre
The one simple thing we need to consider when talking about the best business minds in hiphop is the money. The best business decisions make you exceedingly rich. That is why the number 1 spot on our list goes to none other than hip hop’s first billionaire, Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre is known for his beats- most notably those on The Chronic, and The Chronic 2001. Nowadays, he’s known for “Beats by Dre”, his line of premium headphones. When Apple purchased Beats by Dre for 3 billion dollars, Dr. Dre became the richest man in hiphop. The most interesting thing about Beats is that music experts don’t actually believe that they are impressive headphones. The sound quality is really only great for catching head shaking bass, which is what the people seem to want. Beats are also a status symbol- they can be found around the necks of youth as if they are outfit accessories rather than music accessories. As one of the greatest beat makers of our generation, Dre’s name behind the product further certifies their status as impressive headphones. Dre is straight out of Compton, and straight to the top.