5 Reasons Rap and Entrepreneurship Are Close Cousins

Right now two of the most relevant topics are rap music and entrepreneurship. We have parents across the country now “Hitting the whip” and doing the “Hotline Bling” dance. Shark tank has now inspired young people all around the country to start viable businesses as early as elementary school.


After hustling to meeting with the rap star/entrepreneur 50 Cent for my close friend’s apparel company, a light bulb went off in my head. Rap and entrepreneurship have so many parallels.


J cole (Rapper) stood outside Roc-The-Mic studios weekly in the pouring rain with a mixtape in hand while wearing a shirt that read ¨Produce for Jay Z or die trying.¨

Do whatever it takes. Busting down the door into the rap game isn’t a feat commonly accomplished. You have a lot of competition with other like-minded individuals with the same focus as you to make it to the big leagues. When Jay Z dismissed J Cole as he got out of his ca, J Cole could have easily stopped trying, but he took that failure as a learning experience. He realized that no just meant a not yet. A year later, Jay Z was the one who ended up signing that same kid he dismissed outside of that studio. When you put in the work, things have a funny way of working out in your favor.

Daymond John (Founder of FUBU) hustled his way into meeting LL Cool J and convince him to pose for a photograph wearing FUBU so he could then leverage it to sell product. He ended up wearing the new product Daymond had made for him in a GAP commercial that the brand had spent tens of millions of dollars airing across the country. So, instead of a GAP commercial, it ended up being free advertising for FUBU which helped sky rocket FUBU to an industry leader.

If you do not ask, you do not get. Find ways to bring value to the person you’re targeting and make it happen.

Starting something from nothing isn’t an easy endeavor. Creativity, perspective, and relentlessness are all characteristics you need to exhibit while hustling to make it.


Without creativity there would be no innovation. Many regard creativity as the single most important trait a person can have. The most creative people find ways around obstacles, they see them not just as roadblocks as opportunities. Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Nobody inhibits these characteristics better than entrepreneurs and rappers.

For example,

Richard Branson is the king of outlandish and creative marketing stunts. His most recent being the re-creation of the parade in ferris bueller’s day off. This included sing alongs to ¨Twist and Shout¨ and ¨Danke Schoen¨ off to promote the first new Virgin Hotel.

Lil Dicky quit his job at an advertising agency to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper. Lil dicky raised $113,000 through a kickstarter campaign to launch his career. He is known for his crazy and funny yet relatable creative music videos and his unique style of rap.

The root of the word creativity means ¨to grow¨ so if we take away the importance of creativity in our everyday lives we can grow exponentially both in our personal and professional lives.


Gary Vaynerchuk (Founder of Vaynermedia) realized his entrepreneurial strengths early in life and then went all in on them. Eminem realized his love for english and talent for rapping early in life as well. Both faced serious ongoing struggles in school.

This is the circumstance for many rappers and entrepreneurs alike.

I have found that many entrepreneurs and rappers realized their strengths and invested in themselves from a very young age…whether it was selling things in class or coming up with new ideas. Entrepreneurship is regarded by many as a DNA trait rather than a career choice. Same goes with rapping. After speaking and learning from many rappers in preparation for this article, I found that many successful rappers had traits that one would pair with being a good artist. Traits such as an interest or having talent in regards to design, entertainment, english, writing, or even drawing.

Many would say they are un-educated. But let me ask you this, would you say Eminem is not educated in rapping? Would you say Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t know social media? No you wouldn’t, because they are highly educated on their careers and passions.

Instead of looking at them as test scores, we should take a more in-depth and holistic approach for children and adults like this. Rappers and entrepreneurs are some of the most intelligent and creative people on the planet.


¨That person is an overnight success¨

This statement is easily one of the biggest fallacies related to both entrepreneurship and rappers. Before someone can be viewed as an overnight success in either of these professions, there is a ton of hard work put in.

Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage mother. After encountering several obstacles at age 19, she accepted a job in radio and started co-anchoring while still in high school. When her show went national at age 32 Oprah had become a millionaire.

Lil Wayne was raised in a tough Hollygrove neighborhood. After selling drugs and accidentally shooting himself with his mother’s gun, Wayne realized things needed to change. Wayne had been creating music from a very young age before joining the Cash Money record label. After putting in the work, Lil Wayne is now regarded as one of the best rappers alive and has won Four Grammys with seventeen nominations.

I usually hear someone say ¨How lucky¨ when someone brings up the successes of entrepreneurs and rapper alike. Most admit a certain amount of luck played a role into their success in these fields, but all will say you create your own opportunities through hard work.


Rappers and entrepreneurs posses some of the most crucial personality traits to become successful. Below are three of the most obvious characteristics I saw in both rappers and entrepreneurs.

¨The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.¨- Tetsuyama-san

One thing I see in all rappers and entrepreneurs is the thirst for knowledge.  Always learning, always adapting to the times. The most successful rappers and entrepreneurs realize that the day they stop learning is the day they fall behind. Always finding new innovative ways to get the edge is important to them. As Mark Cuban always says, ¨There is always going to be some kid in a garage working while you’re sleeping to kick your butt.¨

They also have an undeterrable determination to become their own perspective versions of successful. Many of the obstacles one encounters in these professions seem to be daunting tasks to the average person. Good entrepreneurs and rappers need to have determination so they do not fall in the face of seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome. Rappers and entrepreneurs will encounter many of these seemingly impossible obstacles over their careers.

You can have tremendous amounts of success or failure, but if you want that to mean something, you must have perspective. Whether you’re evaluating an opportunity, trying to find inspiration, or pondering a recent massive success or failure, this trait is crucial. Perspective breeds understanding when faced with a decision. Allowing yourself to take a step back and realizing what is inhibiting you to become successful, or the people that have helped you get there is a tremendous quality.

This article also appears on Medium and is published here with the permission of the author

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