Hip hop has become genre for entrepreneurs

When rap and hip hop exploded onto the music scene in the late 1970s, the first hits included “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” In the 1980s, New York hip hop group Run DMC enjoyed success, particularly with the crossover cover of “Walk This Way,” which featured the original recording artist Aerosmith, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

But the rap and hip hop stars of the 21st century have taken the music genre to a whole new level, with the biggest stars becoming entrepreneurs worth many hundreds of millions of dollars.

The change was ushered in with the advent of gangsta rap in the 1980s with rap groups such as NWA. When the group split in 1991, Dr. Dre teamed up with Snoop Dogg and set in motion the transformation from rap star to entrepreneur. Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle was produced by Dre in 1993 and in 1997 Dre teamed up with Missouri-born Eminem to produce the studio album The Slim Shady LP, which gave the rapper his breakthrough. Eminem is credited with taking the music genre to middle America, though Dre also deserves credit for legitimizing the white rapper.

From rap to music tech

Dre made a move into entrepreneurship when he co-founded Beats Electronics, which launched the highly successful Beats by Dre headphone range along with the Beats Music streaming service. In 2014, the Beats brand was acquired by Apple for $3.4 billion, a move that led to Dre being crowned the richest man in hip hop.

As well as being two of the most influential artists in the genre, rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, aka Ye, have added entrepreneurship to their list of talents. Jay-Z is worth over $1 billion and realized the importance of owning record labels early in his career before branching out into fashion and sports bars. In 2021, Jay-Z, under his real name Shawn Corey Carter, was a producer for the western movie The Harder They Fall.

The versatility of rap music to move seamlessly into other areas of the entertainment industry has seen rap gods such as Dr. Dre appear in video games such as Grand Theft Auto Online. So, with all this in mind, it is no surprise to see that rap and hip hop has also branched out into the iGaming industry, featuring as the main genre of music that inspired online casino games such as the slot game Hip Hop Panda. Rap-themed slot titles give game developers the opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of the music genre.

From rap to fashion mainstream

Alongside selling over 160 million records, Kanye West, who has a net worth of around $2 billion, is also involved in the world of fashion, releasing his Yeezy brand before teaming up with GAP in a 10-year deal and his ex-wife Kim Kardashian has helped promote the latest range on offer by the rap star.

Entrepreneurship in rap has surely hit a peak in the latest collaboration between Eminem and Snoop Dogg, entitled “From the D 2 the LBC,” which sees the pair depicted as cartoon monkeys, a none too subtle nod to their Bored Ape NFT collection. The song sees the two rappers team up on a track for the first time in 20 years, so it satisfies all of the requirements to achieve plenty of interest from both a musical and business perspective. The fact that the song was performed at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards demonstrates that music is now entrenched in the Metaverse.

Rap and hip hop have given artists the chance to move beyond music to make untold millions of dollars from their association with the genre. Rap artists in the 21st century have taken music to another level by branching out into other areas of the entertainment industry such as fashion and film. It seems the sky is the limit as far as rap is concerned even as Snoop Dogg teams with Funko for the first-ever co-branded retail experience comes to the rapper’s Tha Dogg House in Inglewood, CA in 2023.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com

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