From the Mic to the Board Room: Rappers Turned Entrepreneurs Take Control of Their Financial Destiny

Hip Hop and Rap Artists open businesses beyond the music world and destroy stereotypes about the genre along the way.

Rap is known for its hardcore, aggressive, no-hold-bars style, lyrics, and delivery. While the unapologetic genre holds the hearts of fans around the globe, it still finds itself at the constant center of political controversy and negative stereotypes.

However, a number of successful hip hop and rap artists have taken their success in music and turned it into other profitable business ventures defying long-held clichés about the genre and its offspring.  Long gone are the days where rappers and hip hop artists solely depended on the income from their record labels to stay afloat.  Here are three rappers-turned-entrepreneurs who learned the secrets to staying rich and relevant.

  1.  Dr. Dre
    “Straight Outta Compton” revealed that not only was Dr. Dre a formidable rapper and producer, but he also had a serious entrepreneurial streak.  After successfully guiding the careers of rap and hip hop heavyweights including Snoop Dog, 50 Cent, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, the Doctor recognized the economic power and protection in diversifying his assets.In 2008, Dr. Dre teamed up with longtime friend and former Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman, Jimmy Iovine and Beats by Dre was born. In 2014, Apple, Inc. acquired Beats by Dre for  $3 billion and while the deal did not make Dr. Dre the first hip-hop billionaire as he proclaimed, his net worth did grow to a reported $710 million and moved him into a superior tax bracket.
  2. Rick Ross
    Rick Ross isn’t just making boss moves with his Maybach Music label, the self-proclaimed hustler also expanded his portfolio with a chain of Wing Stop locations.  The rapper decided to invest in the franchise after declaring his love for their lemon pepper chicken wings.Ross now owns 25 franchise locations, continues to grow is monthly revenue by 50%  and has made repeatedly made the Forbes list for Hip-Hop Cash Kings.

  3. Nas
    For three years, the revolutionary rapper has been quietly making mogul moves. Nas and business partner, Anthony Seal founded QueenBridge Venture Partners, LLC (QBVP), a venture capitalist firm that invests in technology startups.The firm has partnered with some of the most popular and profitable companies of today including Dropbox, Pluto.tv and the ride-sharing app Lyft.  Due to the runaway success of many of QBVP’s investments, the firm’s portfolio has grown into the millions.

As rappers and hip-hop artists continue to push financial boundaries and set new trends, it may be only a matter of time before many of them move on from Forbes’ Hip Hop Cash King’s List to Forbes’ World Billionaires List.

Who Killed Tupac? Suge Knight Claims He Has the Answer to the 21 Year Mystery…

Suge Knight claims he was the actual target the night Tupac Shakur was murdered.

Before there was Lucious and Cookie Lyon of Empire, there was Suge and Sharitha Knight of Death Row Records.  Yet some things really are stranger than fiction.

Suge Knight recently released a statement on who he believes was behind the murder of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur – his ex-wife, Sharitha and former business partner, Reggie White, Jr.

According Knight’s attorney, Thaddeus Culpepper, the fallen Death Row mogul has known “for many years that Reggie Wright Jr. and his ex-wife Sharitha were behind the murder of Tupac and attempted murder of Knight.”

Knight cites that his reasons for sharing his beliefs after twenty years of silence is due to the documentary Tupac Assassination: Battle for Compton highlighting “salient points” about Tupac’s death.

Former LAPD detective Russell Poole agrees with Knight’s claims. Both men believe that Sharitha wanted Suge Knight dead so she could inherit her then husband’s fortune and control of Death Row Records.

The recent claims have taken Twitter by storm with Suge Knight trending and many Twitter users questioning the validity of his allegations and his motives:

Suge Knight’s name became a pariah in the music industry and his reputation never recovered following Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996 and his suspected involvement.  Since then, he has had a string of run-ins with the law.  Since 2015, Knight has been incarcerated on murder and attempted murder charges stemming from a hit-and-run incident involving  a security officer on the set of “Straight Outta Compton.”  Some things just can’t be made up.

Prince: Why This One Hurts Deeper…

I had just posted about Chyna passing away and before that, Doris Roberts from “Everybody Loves Raymond” and before Maurice White of “Earth, Wind and Fire” and before that…many others.  This has been a marathon year of celebrity deaths and big time celebrities at that.  Prince’s death is right up there with Michael Jackson’s and Whitney Houston’s for me

But this one hurts a little deeper.  For me, Prince was the epitome of health.  He was the poster child for what pop stars could be and the kind of career they could have if they took care of themselves and didn’t get caught up in tabloid behavior.  Once I learned how MJ died, I was hurt, but I could rationalize it because of his abuse of prescription drugs.  Whitney’s behavior put her on borrowed time. Yet, it is difficult for me to rationalize Prince.  He was supposed to live well into ripe old age because he did all the right things.  Prince was not caught up tabloid drama, guarded his privacy like Fort Knox, never heard of him abusing drugs or alcohol and the older he grew, the more his faith seemed to deepen.

I don’t know if it is a sign of the times, something in the air or water or just life doing what life does, I just know that Prince’s music is a soundtrack to many moments in my life.  His art was a constant and like MJ, I took great comfort in knowing that he would always be working on something to sustain my appetite.

As a teenager, I remember receiving a phone call from my school asking why I wasn’t there on this particular day.  I promptly told them I had the flu, which I’m sure was difficult to believe with “Take Me With You” blasting in the background and me panting heavily from dancing so hard.

He made being different okay.  Like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, his lyrics were thought provoking while also making you get up and dance.  The way he manipulated his voice, the piano, guitar, drums and the often times, esoteric things he would say in his music just proved he was only living here, but he was not of this world.

Yes, this one hurts deeper than the rest.  I am tired of a celebrity death constantly being one of the trending topics on my Facebook page.   I know none of us get out of this alive, I just figured Prince was one who had more time.  Rest in love.

 

Resentment is Exhausting…Seriously…

I don’t know who first said, “Resentment is like setting yourself on fire waiting for the other person to burn must have had a lifetime,” but I sure would like to give them a big ole’ hug for the warning.

Resentment is truly one of the most exhausting activities I’ve ever participated in and the payoff is worse! I tried to feel angry at someone today who I have resented for a long time.  However, instead of boiling blood, a racing heart, a narrow brow and reenacting the situation that sent me into the funnel of anger in the first place, I just felt…tired.  The thought of trying to muster up the anger only made it more difficult for me to focus what I was working on.

I just secured a contract for my newly formed company, I have a couple of other contracts in the works, I have to finish memorizing lines for the next “One Chick Army” show, I have to pack up my house.  I have so many things to do that this troll of a thought popping up in my head was just bad timing.

Yet, lately, I’ve noticed, it’s always bad timing.  I am really tired of being angry, hating, waiting for karma to right a wrong.  I realized what I wanted more than anything is acceptance of what is and release.  I am no longer interesting in knowing the latest shot that was fired or the latest lie that was told.  Nor am I interested in avoiding going certain places so I don’t run into them.

Many books and songs have been written about the benefits of forgiveness.  Maybe I’ll write one too and include how much energy I have when I don’t focus on Who Done Me Wrong.

The Police vs. Beyoncé and the Black Panther Party

Beyoncé has seldom taken a public stance about her political positions.  That all changed the day before the Superbowl 50 with the surprise release of “Formation.”  The “black” pride song took the internet by storm and that was only the beginning.  The next day, a very defiant Beyoncé “slayed” in a Black Panther themed half-time show and rocked it along with Coldplay and Bruno Mars, respectively.

For some reason, that I have yet to figure out, many police officers are so vain, they actually believed “Formation” was about them.  So much so, Police Association meetings were held across the country to decide if they would boycott staffing her concerts.  There is unfortunately, many misconceptions about the original Black Panther Party.  Watch the video below as I attempt to clear up at least some of the worst conceptions about the legendary party who helped many people of color find the courage to face hatred.

 

 

 

Willie Lynch: Real Person or Urban Myth?

Few debates outside of religion and politics get people as flustered as the true origin of Willie Lynch.  The supposed slave master from the West Indies gave a riveting (yet, very short) speech about how to keep “Blacks” enslaved for a minimum of 300 years in 1712.  I remember when I first read the letter, I was enchanted with the information.  This was it!  This was the answer.  Everything I had been taught about civil rights, racism, prejudice, and discrimination had all been validated with this letter.  Why had I not learned about it sooner?  However, even in the euphoria of this new information, questions continued to invade my enlightenment.  Why was Willie Lynch’s speech so short?  That was a long way to travel to have so few words to say.  Where exactly in the West Indies did he come from?  How did he figure this out in a time of great superstition and illiteracy?  Why was the letter so perfect?

After a mentor challenged the validity of the letter, I decided to do some investigation of my own.  Watch the video below and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

The Rat Race – Even if You Win, You’re Still a Rat…

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30am by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?” – Charles Bukowski

Wow!  Well, since you put it like that! I have recently made a life changing decision and the driving force behind my decision is I want to have as few regrets as possible.  This video, “The Rat Race” will certainly give you something to think about.  Give it a watch and share your thoughts below!

 

The Day You Raise Your Hand to Me

 

I never really considered myself a victim of domestic violence since I was only attacked once.  I learned a while later that once is all that it takes.  And although I was only attacked once, I was threatened several times and that was just as frightening.  I still don’t really consider myself a victim, I don’t like that word.  A lot of women don’t.  Was I victimized? Yes.  Am I a victim?  No.

And this isn’t a fist pumping “I-Shall-Rise” type of proclamation.  I’ve just seen what claiming victim-hood can look like at its worst.  It makes people Life’s bitch.  I’m not interested.

However, it did take me a good while to even admit all of what happened to even my closest family.  The first time I ever wrote about what happened to me on my old blog, I quickly deleted it.  I wasn’t ready.

“I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to destroy lives or bring up old stuff,” I confessed to my sisters. “I just want to tell my story.”

“Then tell your story,” they both said almost in unison.  Did I really want to tell this part of my life that left such a stain?  True, I have healed and moved on, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having flashbacks.  The amazing amount of rejection and desperation I felt during that time is still hard to believe.

Sometimes, I wonder if that moment in my life hardened me, made it more difficult for me to love.  Then I look at my boyfriend of close to three years and I remember that I learned how to love again.  Sometimes, I still feel afraid, I still can shut down, I still can project and over-analyze.  But I know that I am loved and I have learned to be patient and forgive myself, which is a constant process.

And weird as it seems, I don’t regret what happened to an extent.  I don’t regret the relationship.  If I have any regrets, it’s the time I wasted trying to save someone from themselves, the time I lost with my own dreams and goals.

I hope my story inspires others to seek help, learn how to protect themselves and more than anything know that love is never ever supposed to hurt.

“An Open Letter to My Body” (and to Fat-Shamers)

Questions – If fat-shaming and body-shaming really worked, why are so many people, especially women, still struggling to lose weight? If insults and put downs were truly effective, why aren’t they effective?
This is what happened when I briefly stopped seeing myself as a size, weight and label, saw myself as a person and loved my body in the now…