Breaking through the Bias
When I look at specific journalistic endeavors, I find myself questioning the subject matter because you can feel the inherent biases that a particular columnist comes to the story with from the beginning. I want to start this story laying some of my biases on the table; as it is vital to establish them for the story.
I grew up as a child of Hip Hop! It was a privilege to live through the “Golden Era” of the genre. The music became the soundtrack of my life. I probably couldn’t tell you an exact year something happened; but I could tell you what artist was playing on my radio or CD walkman at the time. As much as I loved the music, the underpinning of this music was firmly rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit. The reality was, there was a limited amount of establishment people that saw the real potential of the music. It was passionate supporters that put up their own money to press records, shoot videos, promote shows and tours; planting the seeds for the forest of prosperity that many rap artists avail themselves to today.
I was part of the industry over the years in different capacities; but I fully admit to not being as plugged in as I once was when I was younger. The music didn’t impact me the same way anymore; the music was less substance and more driven by melody and vibes. To be fair, life happened and I was working and raising a kid. The music became more skewed for him than for me.
Learning the Hussle
A funny thing happened to me on my road to being a casual fan. I ran across an article about an artist selling his mixtape for $100, which piqued my interest. It would have been easy to write it off as a cheap gimmick, but in a subsequent online interview he talked about reading “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” and “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” to help craft his strategy. This interview challenged any preconceptions I had about him being just another West Coast rapper with gang affiliation. I didn’t buy the album, but he was on my radar.
The next time he popped up on my radar was in the oddest circumstance. To my surprise, Nipsey was purchasing a stake in a Crypto company called “Follow Coin”. In this documentary, he adeptly explained the value he saw in the company and his overall philosophies he had on the Crypto space. These scenes reminded me of some of the strategic business moves we saw with Sean Combs (Diddy) or Sean Carter (Jay-Z), or Russell Simmons. These developments were intriguing to me.
After that, he showed up on a social media feed where he was discussing his Crenshaw located clothing store. There were some innovate digital features he built into an app; that activated when you scanned the barcode on his clothing. All three of these instances were before I went and knowingly sought out his music. When I found his album “Victory Lap,” he became my favorite workout partner. He sprinkled in a message of ownership, entrepreneurship, and empowerment while not being too preachy. He made it a point to put his money where his mouth was and give back to the community. He provided jobs for those that were from his neighborhood that may not be able to get employed anywhere else. I could only look at these cumulative actions and arrive at the conclusion that the future was in good hands.
Unfortunately, his untimely demise makes me question it all again. I can only hope that out of the seeds that Nipsey spread through his music and entrepreneurial action a new forest of similarly business-minded entrepreneurs grows to follow in his steps.