I love pop music. Most of all, I love rap music. And I'm not talking about backpack rappers like Common or Kanye West; I'm talking about rappers who rap about flagrantly commercializing their music, doing whatever it takes to make it (even if that includes robbing or selling drugs), and are disrespectful to just about everyone. Among my circle of over-educated, yuppie friends, this is viewed with something between a mild embarrassment and a strong distaste. But I'm tired of hearing about Ben Folds, Vampire Weekend or whatever hipster band you happen to be listening to right now. I'm a fan of 50 Cent and Rick Ross and I'm just going to come out and say it (and not just at parties or because it happens to be on the radio).
Rap music is music for entrepreneurs. Other genres write about love (rock, r&b), unattainable love (indie), nothing at all (electronic / dance), or redneck issues (country). But only rap music is almost maniacal in its focus on success, the acquisition of money and subsequent dispensation of it. Like startups, rap might be one of America's last great meritocracies. In the rap world, like the startup world, rappers are rewarded based on a combination of hard work, skill, marketing, and timing. Almost all famous rappers came up from humble backgrounds (Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem) but through the aforementioned achieved amazing commercial success.
Here are three reasons I love rap music as an entrepreneur:
- It's all about hard work. In songs like Girl (Paul Wall) or Light Up (Drake), rappers espouse "staying 25/8 on your grind" (it's better than 24/7!) and grinding for days on end. While this might not be sustainable or healthy, it's definitely motivational!
- Rappers understand marketing. In Moment of Clarity, Jay-Z blatantly states he dumbed down his music to appeal to a broader audience. No artistic pretentions here, just iteration of a product to appeal to a mass market!
- The rap game is all about timing and a little luck. Just like innovations in tech, rappers ride on big waves, generally around certain geographical areas or musical trends becoming popular. Being in the right place at the right time is important!
Do you love rap as much as I do? If you work at a startup and love rap music for its hustle, give me some love.