‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’: How Hip-Hop Inspired The Growth Of Black-Owned Businesses
There’s no denying the marketing juggernaut hip-hop culture has been for the past 50 years. From Run DMC making Adidas the must-have apparel for b-boys and cool kids in the 1980s, to luxury brands like Versace and CHANEL benefitting from the flashy bravado of the 1990s, the profitability of hip-hop has been apparent from the start. However, it would take many years for the moneymaking machine created by Black people in this country to trickle down to the communities they came from.
According to Yahoo Finance, hip-hop and the community it represents have harnessed the $16 billion economic impact of the culture; turning it into financial empowerment and a generational wealth accumulator.
From fashion industry disruptors like popular streetwear brands FUBU and Rocawear to major players in industries spanning TV, film, art, and spirits, the hustle has become about more than just bragging rights on wax. Hip-hop has grown to recognize its power; and with around 3 million black-owned businesses in America, it’s become the catalyst through which the creatives who birthed it have stepped into their own.
“Hip-hop went from being a fad to commercialized and monetized in technology, fashion, sports and business,” Detavio Samuels, CEO of REVOLT, said.
“In the beginning, we weren’t owners, just brand ambassadors, not accumulating wealth from a genre and culture that we created. We’ve gone from making others rich to wealth accumulators.”
Where hip-hop artists like Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young were once anomalies in the culture – breaking away from simply being the face of, largely, white brands to launch their own successful ventures – it is now more shocking to find artists whose only stream of income is music-related. And the culture’s Midas touch has extended past those who hold the mic. People like Dapper Dan, Misa Hylton, Vashtie, Dream Hampton and Sharene Wood have leveraged their connection to hip-hop to gain notoriety in their respective industries.
“Hip-hop allowed Black creatives and artists to create brands that wouldn’t have existed without hip-hop and allowed us to engage in collective economics, supporting other Black businesses,” said Wood, who is the president and CEO of 5001 FLAVORS and Harlem Haberdashery.
“Hip-hop opened the door to a lot of Black brands.”