Hullo hip hop hustlers!! Been a month or so after our street knowledge blog. Ya know, something has got me bugging since then. So before I ask ya – Are you a Street Entrepreneur? Or before I start talking about our last sub-element in hip hop i.e. Street Entrepreneurialism, I want ya’ll to give this theory some thought.
We all meet, see and admire various artists in our own neighbourhoods, city, country and all around the world. Such a wide network has emerged from YouTube and then connected via Facebook, Instagram, Orkut, Twitter and number of other social media platforms. Lakhs and millions of artists are successfully paying their bills by doing what they love and yet there is another category of artists who struggle sticking to various off-their-field jobs. Have ya’ll wondered HOW and WHY are they able to earn from what they love? Because, they know how to sell their art by believing in their creative process and self. Such people are called as Self-starters or Hustlers by the Temple of Hip Hop. And what they practice is called as Street Entrepreneurialism.
What exactly is Street Entrepreneurialism?
Street Entrepreneurialism means to motivate yourself to be self-employed and educated through the art he/she practices. It is also known as street trade or having game. And being a street entrepreneur means to be that self-motivated person who knows how to commercialize his/her art.
Earlier, one had to toil his/her way to a business through a long process that started from attending college to borrowing money for their start up. This took years of patience which was followed by the time required to set up and promote the business which almost costs a person’s lifespan. But now, all you need is the spirit to grow by yourself and let yourself be the brand. I believe, any artist is a naturally born smooth diplomat. Their art speaks for themselves. All you need is ample amount of faith in yourself and your work.
And we hiphoppas exactly know how to do it, as forefathers have left us with the most deadliest combination to success- the will and way to live well. We keep grinding hard because it’s all about hustle.
How hip hop taught us about entrepreneurialism?
Many breakers, graf writers, rappers, beatboxers and Djs are successful street entrepreneurs now. But do you know how they were motivated for self-employment? Actually, street entrepreneurialism is another creation out of necessity. What I am about to tell you isn’t exactly a story but a sweet journey of rap/hip hop music from nothing to something big.
So it goes like this.
Back in the early days of hip hop there wasn’t a great market for rap music. Americans were fond of rock, pop and disco. The Black radio stations overlooked the early raps too as they felt more like rhymes backed by disco beats. Record labels did not want to put their hopes into these bizarre talking records too. And to top it all off, South Bronx was standing deep in drug addictions, unemployment, gang wars and all other kinds of socio-political pressures as well.
Sigh! These people have really seen the bad times up close. But like I said in our previous blog of street knowledge they never lost hope. They had to find a way out of the major crisis of unemployment. And obviously rappers found their way through the thick. They being the natural salesmen tried to get the rap or hip hop music recognised in the music industry.
They had to convey to the listeners what they are doing and intend to do. Exactly like in Rapper’s Delight, the Sugar Hill Gang said – “Now what you hear is not a test – I’m rappin’ to the beat. And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet.” So, basically they had to start it off from the scratch. Not only they worked on their innovations but also kept a track of their sponsorship deals, making a street marketing team and also turning their swag and style into a fashion merchandise or something else so as to attract a greater fan base. Doesn’t this sound so similar to the journey of all the rappers out there today and before?
This was new at that time and hella risky I would say. In my opinion, there isn’t an entrepreneur on this planet who doesn’t take risks. And any hip hop artist who is able to self-employ him/herself is a true street entrepreneur. Rappers initially did the same. They were on their own. And we all can see now how long they have come. Hip Hop music now competes shoulder to shoulder with the other genres.
Street Entrepreneurialism in different elements of hip hop
Okay, don’t hate me now! I know I always talk about rappers and never about the breakers, djs or graf writers. Please accept my apology 🙂 Not that I am biased, but the element of rap gained a lot of visible popularity than the other elements amongst the hiphoppas as well as the commoners. Thus, it is easy to be explained.
But I would love to show ya’ll how street entrepreneurialism is and should be a part and parcel of all kinds of hip hop artists.
Breaking reached out all over the world and attracted much commercial audience. Breakers used to showcase their best moves at jams in the New York boroughs, obviously to be famous among their gangs and of course, the girls. And here they caught the eye of commercial crowd coming down to the parties. They received opportunities to work in ad films, documentaries, movies, modelling for a brand and sometimes being the brand ambassador. Breakers are real hustlers! I wouldn’t skip on this, cause I am a bgirl too. Hehe!
Jokes apart, the first ever hip hop DJ to turn into a street entrepreneur was DJ Kool Herc. He used to charge 25-50 cents for admission to his parties. And Herc was so popular among the breakers that they would never miss an opportunity to jam with his breaks. He encouraged and introduced the bboys and bgirls on the floor. He discouraged gangs and promoted having fun. This attracted a lot of breakers and dancers to his parties. DJs now try to achieve the same. As times changed, the scope of their art spread to international events, big parties, music productions for various rap artists and much more. The beatboxers have also levelled up to become WANTED voice-over-artists on radio, television, films, animation, theatre and other presentations. See, they are self-employed too.
If you wanna take a closer look of how the DJs and MCs crafted their way to the present, you must watch this Netflix Original series called The Get Down.
For graf writers, the vandal art was noticed by designers and artists. Graffiti no more remained just a way of enjoyment but a source of income. They can sell their work on paper canvas, tshirts, stickers, shoes and create large pieces legally for a city corporation or buildings or to advertise campaigns for big brands. Graffiti writers have stepped into interior décor for homes and workplaces too. Thus, a graffiti writer makes a good example of street entrepreneur as well.
Fashion has always been a side and in some cases a substantial source of income for all the artists out there in the form of merchandise. So you all can see how hip hop has absorbed entrepreneurialism. It’s a culture that produced a new age of street trade and street entrepreneurs or like call them “hustlers”. Ma ma! Hiphoppas are born with artistry touched with an essence of entrepreneurialism. Gifted culture! Gifted creatures! I feel so happy right now because this element of hip hop taught me that –
There is no need of an institution when you hold the spirit of self-motivation and education in you. Just take the god damn reins in your hands! And go wild.
If our pioneers could open up such huge opportunities for us then why do we have to let go on our dreams and sulk over some wack phases of life. Like I said, get your reins! Be the Hustler you want 🙂
I am sure everyone out there is ready to hustle hard. So does your hip hop head have what it takes to be a street entrepreneur? Share your thoughts on this blog with us and your friends. And don’t forget to thank all our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters for all that we have. Thank you.
Happy Deciphering until next time.