Hip Hop shows creativity, business acumen born from struggle (Part II)

Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Puffy are 3 of the most successful Hip Hop artists and have used savvy business sense to amass considerable wealth.

Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Sean “Puffy” Combs are 3 of the most successful Hip Hop artists and have used savvy business sense to amass considerable wealth.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Hip Hop is a global phenomenon that has become profitable in a myriad of ways to give an example of how monumental the culture really is. While Hip Hop music continues to be dissected and scrutinized for its content and imagery, remnants of Hip Hop can be recognized in more places than ever. Moguls like Puffy, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z deserve praise for the business mode and financial growth they show. As Hip Hop celebrates 40 years of existence, it is clear that the momentum generated by the genre’s pioneers is sustained by those who continue to embrace and expand on their vision.

Russell Simmons was ahead of his time and helped fuel the spread of Hip Hop culture on the big and small screen.

Russell Simmons was ahead of his time and helped fuel the spread of Hip Hop culture on the big and small screen.

In terms of Hip Hop pioneers, Russell Simmons stands out because his vision to spread Hip Hop to multiple audiences established a model that is still in use today. Simmons had the foresight to create the movie Krush Groove which showed what he went through in establishing his record label, Def Jam while developing opportunities for his brother, Rev Run of Run DMC. Simmons also helped with the explosion of black comedy on television with his Def Comedy Jam series.

Simmons’ exploits became a blueprint for others within Hip Hop to recognize that the music was just the beginning of the connection Hip Hop would make to audiences around the world. Simmons started his own clothing line, Phat Farm, as he continued to grow his empire. Simmons, who is also an author, said n a recent interview, “When you have a voice, you use it, if you can…So, as a person who runs a company, I’ve been to the Congress to promote a law, you know?”

Hip Hop artists learned early that they could use their talents in more than music. (Clockwise from top left) Rza, Method Man, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Ice Cube.

Hip Hop artists learned early that they could use their talents in more than music. (Clockwise from top left) Rza, Method Man, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Ice Cube.

As Hip Hop culture spread to the big and small screen, so did its artists. LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, Busta Rhymes, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, Rza, Method Man and Redman were among some of the many Hip Hop artists that had acting roles throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. With varying levels of excellence, they showed that the ability to connect to an audience extended beyond having a microphone in their hands. In fact, Ice-T and Will Smith became so accomplished as actors that some forget about their contributions to Hip Hop music.

Will Smith  (top) and Ice-T (bottom) have been so successful as actors that some forget about their music careers.

Will Smith (top) and Ice-T (bottom) have been so successful as actors that some forget about their music careers.

The growth of Hip Hop culture has been beneficial to many within the music industry throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. As the music began to be accepted in more places, the producers of the music began to rise to prominence. There were a number of producers who started music labels and grew their own brand. The appreciation for the music created opportunities for many associated with Hip Hop to develop a better business sense to protect their work, names, and brand.

Missy (top), Pharrell Williams (left) and Kanye West (right) initially earned success as producers, then became successful artists.

Missy Elliott (top), Pharrell Williams (left) and Kanye West (right) initially earned success as producers, then became successful artists.

Puffy formed Bad Boy Records, Jermaine Dupri formed So-So Def, Master P formed No Limit Records, and Birdman formed Cash Money Records. These were just a few of the lucrative labels that were responsible for some of the biggest Hip Hop hits in the 90’s and 2000’s. The success these entrepreneurs had allowed for them to have more control of their rights within the music industry and have control over who would work with them. The aforementioned label owners signed and promote local artists who might not have been accepted at other record labels.

(Clockwise from lop left) Master P, Birdman, and Jermaine Dupri were producers who started their own labels.

(Clockwise from top left) Master P, Birdman, and Jermaine Dupri are producers who started their own labels.

In addition to starting labels, it also became common for producers to become recording artists. Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, and Kanye West are three of the most successful producers to make the transition to artist. They acknowledge the challenge that comes with their success. Their success laid the ground work for current artists to recognize the broad range a person can have within the music industry. Current artists have adapted and used current technology to produce music and videos as they have learned the value of having as much control over their careers as possible.

“When I create something, it’s gotta be special and it can’t just be to throw something out there because I feel like I’m Missy…I gotta feel like what I’m giving the fans is 100 percent and that it’s game-changing,”  Elliott said in an interview.

TLC (top), Mariah Carey (left), and Mary J. Blige (right) will forever be associated with Hip Hop though they weren't rappers.

TLC (top), Mariah Carey (left), and Mary J. Blige (right) will forever be associated with Hip Hop though they weren’t rappers.

With Hip Hop becoming such a profitable brand, other genres of music were willing to blend with it. R&B became the most frequent collaborator with Hip Hop as producers like Teddy Riley and Dr. Dre helped lead a R&B/Hip Hop blend of music that ascended to the top of the charts throughout the 90’s and 00’s. Some of the top-selling R&B artists of the 90’s like Brandy, Monica, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Usher and TLC, openly embraced Hip Hop and became forever associated with the genre.

Today's Hip Hop stars are visible in many different platforms. (l - r) Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne are part of the Young Money group are among the top  selling artists of the past few years.

Today’s Hip Hop stars are visible in many different platforms. (l – r) Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne are part of the Young Money group and they are among the top selling artists of the past few years.

Today, Hip Hop stars have learned from their predecessors and are recognized for multiple achievements. Hip Hop moguls created clothing lines such as Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Sean John’, Jay-Z’s Roc-a-wear, Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Wear, and 50 Cent’s G-Unit Clothing. Drake was known as an actor before becoming a top-selling artist. Nicki Minaj became a judge on the popular music talent show, American Idol, while continuing her music career. Other artists have used YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to grow their audiences and maintain viability in a complicated music industry.

“All we’re really doing is continuing to sell the idea that you [fans] can liberate yourself. You don’t have to follow someone else’s blueprint to be successful,” Williams said.

Dr. Dre has continued to evolve, starting as a producer and artist and is now recognized as a businessman.

Dr. Dre has continued to evolve, starting as a producer and artist and is now recognized as a very successful businessman who has partnered with other entrepreneurs to broaden his brand.

Dr. Dre’s recent $3.2 billion deal with Apple to sell his Beats By Dre brand of headphones and speakers is a sign of the continued influence of Hip Hop. The music will always be scrutinized as it continues to be the prevailing vehicle for musicians to express their thoughts about observations that are not always fun to deal with. Positive and negative images and messages within the music are no different in this genre than what is seen on television or in the movies. However, Hip Hop culture has grown in immeasurable ways, making multi-millionaires out of numerous young men and women who were just trying to find a way to express themselves.

Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Puffy, and Simmons are among the biggest names in American History because of their influence on business and entertainment, not just Hip Hop. They have set an example for others to learn from in terms of building on artistic talent to expand into business ventures. As President Barack Obama eloquently stated, “Hip Hop is not just a mirror of what is, it should also be a reflection of what can be.”  –OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Ziggy Marley, Daft Punk, Isley Brothers win in upside down Grammys

ZIGGY

Prolific singer/song-writer Ziggy Marley won Best Reggae Album at the 56th Grammys.

By Carmen Glover

The 56th Grammy Awards show delivered on its plan to create buzz, spark conversation and stoke fires. The awards show was replete with results that elicited emotions running the gamut from elation, to shock, to downright anger and feelings of outrage.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created mixed reactions when they swept the top rap categories.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis earned mixed reactions when they swept the top rap categories.

The Twittersphere exploded with curses and declarations that “rap is dead,” when it was announced prior to the actual Grammy telecast that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a white group, won the top trifecta in rap for Best Rap Performance “Thrift Shop,” Best Rap Album “The Heist’ and Best Rap Song “Thrift Shop.” The group, which also won Best New Artist in the televised show, beat out Drake, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West to sweep the rap categories and to say many rap lovers were angry is putting it mildly. Swearing that they will now “give up on the Grammys” the vocal throng vented for what seemed like all night long. Undaunted, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ignored all detractors and thanked their fans.

Mega-producer Pharrell Williams was a big winner on Grammy night.

Mega-producer Pharrell Williams was a big winner on Grammy night for his collaboration with multiple winning group Daft Punk, whose catchy song “Get Lucky” was a Grammy favorite.

“Before there was any media or buzz there was our fans,” they said. “We made this album without a record label. We made it independently.”

Daft Punk, featuring mega-producers Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, won for  Album of the Year  with “Random Access Memories.” They also won for Best Pop/ Duo Group Performance and Record of the Year for the smash hit “Get Lucky.” Both Williams and Rodgers took the stage with the group to express thanks. While the group members stood quietly by, their faces hidden by face masks, Williams thanked the fans. “I’m sure they would like to thank their fans and family,” Williams said, to laughter and applause. Williams also won for Producer of the Year: Non-Classical.

The Isley Brothers were Lifetime Award Recipients.

The Isley Brothers were Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients, along with the Beatles.

The lifetime achievement awards ceremony was held the night before the Grammys and the Isley Brothers, the Beatles and Kris Krisstofferson received the special honor. Ziggy Marley, the oldest son of late reggae superstar Bob Marley, won Best Reggae Album for “Ziggy Marley in Concert” in a category that also had albums by Beres Hammond, Sizzla and Snoop Dogg, who has renamed himself Snoop Lion and produced a reggae album after spending time in Jamaica testing the waters in that musical genre.

Darius Rucker, former lead singer for Hootie & the Blowfish, won in the Country music category.

Darius Rucker, former lead singer for Hootie & the Blowfish, won in the Country music category.

In more evidence of an upside down Grammy show, Darius Rucker, who has transitioned to county music after enjoying extensive success as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, won for Best Country Solo Performance for “Wagon Wheel,” beating out longtime country singers such as Blake Shelton.

 

Rihanna's Album "Unapologetic" which clearly defines, her, won at the Grammys.

Rihanna’s Album “Unapologetic” which clearly defines her, won at the Grammys in the Urban Contemporary category.

Predictably, Rhianna won for Best Urban Contemporary Album with “Unapologetic,” and Alicia Keys won for Best R& B Album with “Girl on Fire.” Justine Timberlake won for Best R & B Song for “Pusher Love Girl,” instead of his popular hit “Mirrors” and his collaboration with Jay Z, “Suit and Tie,” won for Best Music Video, while Gary Clark Jr. won for Best Traditional R& B Performance with “Please Come Home,” and Best R& B Performance went to Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway.

Bill Withers was a winner at the Grammys.

Bill Withers was a winner at the Grammys for Best Historical Album, tying with The Rolling Stones.

Bill Withers “The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums” tied with the Rolling Stones “Charlie Is My Darling Ireland 1965” for the Best Historical Album while Ben Harper’s collaboration with Charlie Musselwhite, “Get Up!” won Best Blues Album.

Bruno Mars drew enthusiastic applause when he was named a winner.

Bruno Mars drew enthusiastic applause when he was named a winner.

When Bruno Mars was announced as the winner for Best Pop Vocal Album for “Unorthodox Lunchbox” the audience erupted in cheers. Mars thanked his family and dedicated the award to his mother who died recently, saying she was “looking down” on him.

Ben Harper won for Best Blues Album.

Ben Harper won for Best Blues Album for “Get Up!.”

LL Cool J did well in his third stint hosting the Grammys.

LL Cool J did well in his third stint hosting the Grammys, making sure to give special love to his label, Def Jam.

LL Cool J was superb as usual as the host, but Beyoncé’s and Jay Z’s opening performance was risqué and seemed more suited to a strip club with Beyoncé’s derriere fully exposed while she spouted lyrics so raunchy that no stanza was allowed to be sung without being bleeped out by the censors. If the Grammy producers hoped to create controversy with the broadcast and the selection of the winners, then they hit a home run

See the list of all the winners at Grammy.com.–OnPointPress.net.

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