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Quantifying Hip-Hop’s Official Golden Age Beyond The Stage

By Gary J. Nix

  • Hip Hop’s Top 5 earning recording artists possess a net worth of nearly $4B
  • Businesses may finally be slowly moving from leveraging hip-hop to real collaborations and partnerships

It’s already difficult enough to quantify hip-hop’s impact on the $16 billion music industry. If we look at Jay-Z, Diddy, KanYe West, Berner, and Dr. Dre, we see $3.8 billion in accumulated net worth. Additionally, looking at these numbers not only from sales of music but through net worth, highlights the importance of influence. Cultural influence connects Latto with Sprite & Wingstop (WING +1.16%), Pharrell to Louis Vuitton (LVMUY -2.23%), Megan Thee Stallion x Revlon, Jay-Z to the NFL, and more. As much as the corporate world loves to measure every element that affects business, art generates passion and movement that is very difficult to put a true price on hip-hop’s half century worth of contributions to the world. 

Why This Matters: I gotta be honest…as someone born into, around, and from hip-hop, watching this cultural juggernaut, and the art forms that come from it, impact and claim its relevance has been a wild ride. That which was widely considered garbage, a gimmick, and a fad has continued to shift, shape, and scale business and culture thus far over a span of six decades. 

We also must consider fashion, sports, technology, literacy, and many other sociocultural components, further proving how much culture matters, and why it cannot be owned by corporations. Over time, especially in the last three to five years, we could easily count many examples of brands committing cultural appropriation and vulturing. 

If we go back through the history of hip hop, there are far more examples of failed uses of inauthentic rap music, graffiti, and the like than first-time million-dollar deals such as the one between adidas and RUN-DMC in 1988. Furthermore, if we look at the complete historical account of this culture and business, hip-hop has provided a blueprint for the evolution of art, the power of storytelling, long-term marketing, endorsement deals, and influencer marketing.

What’s Next: Usually, when determining how successful art is, we measure it in dollars. The culture is out there living and prospering. A word to the businesses looking to reach those who represent the culture in all ways: trying to take over only hurts you. Learn where you fit in and prioritize genuine authenticity; it’s an excellent path toward cultural fluency.

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