The hip-hop industry is full of self made millionaires who started from very poor backgrounds. Rarely do you hear of rap superstars that came from very affluent families. The whole rap game is based on rags-to-riches stories of people who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. These individuals “flipped the game up”, and really made a new life for themselves and their crews.
These self starters have really come from the ground up and used success-based principles to make themselves top sellers in the hip-hop music industry. These individuals all know that they aren’t going to get any hand outs. Many times, they’ve become great businessmen and entrepreneurs due to the struggles that they had to overcome early on in life. Many times, these individuals have already started learning these principles of business before they entered into the rap industry.
Rappers learn a great deal of business principles not only in the struggle to get to the top, but the struggle to stay at the top. These skills make rappers a great commodity to record labels, as they are often able to make millions within the first week of their album releases. That’s not mentioning any of their sales of merchandise or tour revenues. Many rappers take these business principles to heart and aggressively branch out into other areas of business.
With these skills, rappers many times start their own companies to add to their revenue streams. Other times, rappers were forced to start their own companies from the very beginning in order to get recognized. Here are some stories of the best rapper-owned companies around.
Cash Money Records – Birdman & Slim
Brian “Birdman” Williams and brother Ronald”Slim” Williams started Cash Money Records in 1991 in New Orleans. Birdman stated a huge reason for starting the label was getting out of the projects. “I was hoping it would get us out of the projects and into a positive way of life. And we wanted to help other people get out of this poverty,” stated Birdman to close friends early on.
When Birdman Signed Rappers Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh, and already well-known rapper Juvenile, the group The Hot Boys was started. This pushed Cash Money Records into the limelight. Lil Wayne became one of the labels most profitable artists and took the label to a whole new level.
Birdman became quite the famous rapper himself. He still retains ownership of the label and has all final say in the actions taken at Cash Money Records. Cash Money Records is quite possibly the best rapper-owned label, constantly turning out new hit artists.
Trukfit – Lil Wayne
Rapper Lil Wayne has a great love in his life: Skateboarding. His passion for skateboarding has stemmed a whole new style into the Hip-Hop world. Mixing skate clothing with rapper attire has helped give rap a whole new wardrobe, and Lil Wayne decided to capitalize on this by starting the skate apparel company Trukfit.
Trukfit is now one of the leading clothing brands in not only the skateboarding scene, but also the hip hop scene as well. Lil Wayne made a great business out of a new style – one that he helped to popularize.
Maybach Music – Rick Ross
Famous Rapper Rick Ross has been in the limelight since his 2006 deal with Def-Jam Records. With his continued success, Ross knew it was time for him to break off on his own.
Rick Ross started Maybach Music in 2009 mainly as a personal record label and management company for his growing career. Now Maybach Music is home to many great rappers, such as Meek Mill, French Montana, and Walle. Rick Ross has had some amazing success this year with the debut of his album, “Mastermind.” This album hit number one on the charts with 180,000 sales in its first week.
Beats By Dre – Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre has been one of the biggest names in the hip hop community since the heyday of rap group N.W.A. This rap group propelled him into the limelight and allowed him to use his name to sign artists like Eminem and 50 cent.
This celebrity status has also helped Dr. Dre in creating some of the biggest companies that hip-hop knows today. Beat By Dre are some of the worlds best selling headphones, and Dr. Dre co-founded this company and is the current spokesperson. This headphone is the crowd favorite for many professional DJs, Producers, Radio Announcers, and more. Beats By Dre continues to grow as a company and will most likely be around for a long time to come.
Aftermath Entertainment – Dr. Dre
Seems that Dre might have the Midas touch. Aftermath Entertainment is one of the largest record labels in the not only the Hip-Hop industry, but North American and European markets. Aftermath was started by rapper Dr. Dre after he decided to continue his rap career as a solo artist. Interscope Records takes care of all of the US distribution, and Warner Brothers Records takes care of all of the worldwide distribution.
Aftermath has been home to some of Hip-Hops biggest players such as 50 Cent, Nas, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and The Game. Aftermath Entertainment continues to be one of the biggest forces in the hip-hop industry.
Roc-A Fella Records – Jay-Z
Roc-A Fella Records was originally brought about due to rapper Jay-Z not being able to get signed to any record labels. Originally this record label was only going to be used for Jay-Z as a launching pad for his career, but due to the success of his debut album, Roc-A Fella Records lived on.
Roc-A Fella Records has also been home to the rap super star Kanye West. Between the massive success of these two artists, the record label continues to be a commanding force in the record industry.
SK Energy – 50 Cent
After rapper 50 Cent found amazing success in bringing Vitamin Water to the masses, he thought it was time to break out on his own and start his own beverage company. Street King Energy hopped on the fast-growing market of energy shots.
The company has been using social media and celebrity endorsements to help grow the name of the company. SK Energy also sponsors professional athletes to help grow the company as well.
Young Money Entertainment – Lil Wayne
Young Money Entertainment is a record label started by successful rapper Lil Wayne. One of his best friends, Mack Maine, was appointed president of the record label. The label is a subsidiary of Cash Money Records, and has an all star roster of hip-hop names that are well known throughout the industry.
The label has signed some of the big names of today, including Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, and more. Young Money Entertainment continues to release hit after hit, and with this kind of growing success, the label looks like they will be around for a long time to come.
Sean John – P.Diddy
Everyone knows P.Diddy when it comes to the rap game. Not as many people know this industry mogul’s actual name however. Sean John Combs is one of hip-hops greatest success stories. The start of his career was heavily spent creating the rap superstar and legend Biggie Smalls. Now that Sean Combs has such a prolific name in the industry, it is easy for him to branch out into other business endeavors as well.
Sean Combs founded the Sean John clothing company in 1998. The label focuses on high-end fashion and accessories, producing everything from bed linens to cologne. That said, the company’s main sales come from the high end apparel end of its business. This clothing caters to a more mature audience that still wants to fit into the hip-hop fashion style. Sean John is a growing name not only in the hip-hop world, but in the fashion world as well.