Entrepreneurial Hip Hop Stars: How the Genre Has Cultivated Businessmen

There was once a time that an artist’s fame was defined by their chart top­ping hits and album releases, but as sing­ers branch out into movies and act­ors enter the cor­por­ate world, musi­cians are no longer bound by their music­al tal­ent, with many of the biggest names in hip hop hav­ing a slew of busi­ness interests. From Kanye’s Yeezy foot­wear to Jay‑Z’s takeover of Tid­al, rap­pers are dom­in­at­ing vari­ous sec­tors. One field in par­tic­u­lar that hip hop legends have crossed paths with time and time again is the gam­ing industry. Des­pite the two seem­ingly clash­ing in terms of tar­get audi­ences, DJ Booth explains that, “The same way that the listen­ing exper­i­ence for music has changed with the ages, so has gaming.”

The hip hop-gam­ing cros­sov­er has been revis­ited numer­ous times in the last two dec­ades, start­ing off with Wu-Tang Clan’s Mor­tal Kom­bat-style game from the late ‘90s. Rap­pers have estab­lished their own storylines and even fea­tured fel­low industry names like Eminem and Dr. Dre in 50 Cent: Bul­let­proof and Blood on the Sand. Thus, it’s become a plat­form to fur­ther pro­mote their music; video games have proven to be an innov­at­ive strategy for hip hop artists to expand their brand.

Although gam­ing com­pan­ies often part­ner with the film and com­ic book indus­tries to release titles such as the ground­break­ing DC Com­ics Legends app and Mar­vel Roul­ette hos­ted by the UK gam­ing portal Bet­fair, rap­pers tend to have a huge fol­low­ing which has cata­pul­ted them into major suc­cess. Logic, who announced last month that he was launch­ing a You­Tube gam­ing chan­nel, had already racked up over 100,000 sub­scribers after the first day, most of whom are just his fans pos­sibly wait­ing for him to devel­op a game of his own.

Some choose to stick with­in the con­fines of their genre. How­ever, the growth in gam­ing, thanks to unlikely yet ground­break­ing part­ner­ships with hip hop artists and oth­er celebs, has paved the way for them to build an empire rather than solely pro­duce an album. As Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku stated, video games are a means to broad­cast music to a massive, enthu­si­ast­ic audi­ence, and rap­pers appear to have benefited quite well from their ventures.

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I Am Hip-Hop magazine welcomes contributions from guest authors. If you would like to review an event, please get in touch! iamhiphopmagazine[at]gmail.com