DJ’s, OG’s, attorneys, philanthropists and politicians were all represented Wednesday at the Wall Street Project Economic Summit’s panel on the business of hip-hop.
The two-hour session highlighted the contributions of DJ Kool Herc, Jay-Z, Diddy to hip hop and illustrated both the positive and negative aspects of the genre, which is on track to celebrate its 40th birthday on Aug. 11. It also addressed hip-hop’s commercial growth and consequences resulting from black people’s minimum involvement with the monetary demand
Jineea Butler is the president of the Hip Hop Union, a think tank formed in 2009 to secure rights and respect for the hip-hop community. After welcoming the group Butler fired off a statistic, which established the urgency of the discussion.
“Hip-hop generates $684 billion” of buying power, said Butler. “Only 3% goes to the community.”
Adding to the concern that the money isn’t flowing into Black communities at the percentage that many think it should, those who are creating hip-hop also don’t hold power. Bob Celestin, a veteran entertainment lawyer said that the wrong people are in control of hip-hop.
“You have Russell Simmons, Def Jam and a few others, but there are fewer and fewer of those companies and people who understand the true essence of hip-hop,” he said.
Simmons, considered among the richest in hip-hop, remains on top of his business game, and is very open about his success. He has made references to achieving success of his spiritual and material wealth in his latest book Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All.
Not all of the panelists came to a consensus of where the business of hip-hop’s math wasn’t adding up. However, all agreed artist need to be better informed about decision-making.
Former college DJ turned corporate financier Harvey Butler encourages artist to be more knowledgeable of their brand’s power.
“As an artist you have a brand,” said Butler, who is the chief executive officer of Butler Management Group, LLC, and former vice president of supplier diversity at J.P. Morgan Chase. “When you can attach that brand to corporate brands that’s something big.”
The remainder of the discussion was a mix of best practices exchanges and intellectual business tips. Rev. Jesse Jackson reminding everyone just like all things do, hip-hop is evolving and urged all to learn the science of capitol.
“The child might be called hip-hop, but you don’t know who hip-hop will get married to. It may come out as rap, it may come out in a sermon. All of this is a confluence of forces coming together.”
Can I get an Amen!
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(Photo: Terrance Jennings)