The common perception, perhaps misconception, is that the credentials of a rapper include a criminal record, misogynistic tendencies and an out of character ability to flex the right side of their brains to produce entertaining anecdotes structured in clever rhyme schemes. With the way the rap game is set up at this current moment, maintaining longevity in that field of work seems to be incredibly difficult. Fans are fickle and economic downturns put strangle holds on album and event ticket sales.
However the contradictory images we’re being blasted with on a daily basis on our TV screens suggests that a rap career is as easy as pie. The rap industry is immensely saturated with up and comers with stars in their eyes and floating on their hopes and dreams. I applaud anyone with the focus and determination to make their dreams a reality and especially if they seek to conquer such an elegant craft of spoken word. However, I’ve said this before and I’ll paraphrase it again, creativity/ talent is not the sure ticket to guarantee you the success you seek.
To be a successful rapper, you need business acumen!
The case studies are there for all to see. Single dimensional artists have perished in front of our very eyes because they did not have the means to maintain sustenance in a very enduring line of work. Rappers need competencies in finances, management, planning etc and if they do not have these capabilities, they need a team who do. We hear it over and over again about how the most successful artists of the game give acknowledgement to the team around them for their success. This is because it is very rare for one person to master all the elements required to maintain a rap career like a well-oiled machine. When we think of successful rappers, I would like to believe we think in the terms of those who have been able to make the best possible living financially speaking, not necessarily those who gave us the best creative body of work.
If that is the case then we crane our necks over and peer across the Forbes hip hop list to see how our beloved rappers are doing. At the very top you will see the likes of Diddy, Dr Dre, Jay Z and 50 Cent sitting comfortably on the masses of their wealth. These are examples of rappers/ producers who live and breathe business acumen. Most of them by now are more commonly known for their activities as business men rather than rappers/ producers. The case of the successful rapper does not necessarily need to be so extreme but the principal applies across the board.
Recently I have seen instances of profound business acumen being displayed by our local rappers. The #FillUpTheDome event is the most recent of such an example. Cassper found something unique about this concept. He’s breaking the norm and boundaries of what we think is possible in the game. He’s shifting perceptions and elevating the status of rappers who will follow in his ilk. No longer will rappers be seen as simple figures prancing around stages but forces to be reckoned with and to be included in big business deals. With tickets now having been confirmed to be sold-out, outside of the obvious financial advantages, he stands the possibility of creating for himself a legacy that is far more valuable than most of the common moves rappers have been making. I think big corporates will be keeping stern eyes on the #FillUpTheDome event because not only will it be breaking precedence but it will be opening up doors to more opportunities, for rappers in general. Cassper will also be regarded as an artist with the brand value that is powerful enough to attract 20,000 people out of their homes. That can only translate into cash and endorsements.
I would pull out more examples but that would make an already long article even longer. To drive my point home, rappers need to understand the importance of having their housekeeping in order. We’ve seen too many careers plunged into the ground because of dodgy deals made by dodgy managers. Albeit not a rapper, Rihanna lost millions to a dodgy accountant which just goes to show you that all artists are susceptible to failure if they do not possess the necessary business acumen. In the immortal words of Big Sean, “Boss up with your time dawg!”. Basically, fire flame emoji rhymes only will not secure you your spot at the top.