FROM RUSSELL TO NAHMIR: THE NEW AGE OF HIP HOP ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Entrepreneurship and hip-hop go hand in hand. They have been since the inception of the art form. With hip-hop being a form of music, culture and art that grew from the Bronx with a do-it-yourself aesthetic, it was only a matter of time before the genre that so many people called “rap crap” and said would be dead within a year’s time would go on to influence youth around the world, and push them to become entrepreneurs in their own right. The music would go on to birth a form of entrepreneurship that the world had not yet been accustomed to. It was a form of business ownership that wasn’t traditional, against the status quo and steeped in guerilla warfare. Entrepreneurs like Russell Simmons, P. Diddy and Master P would go from being struggling geniuses to tastemakers to the leaders of worldwide megabrands.
But in today’s music economy, a new type of hip-hop entrepreneur has emerged. One that has the luxury of social media and various types of social platforms at their disposal. They don’t have to wait for any gatekeeper or tastemaker to tell them who they are or what they can become. They’re kicking down the door themselves. And in the process, they may even have those tastemakers knocking on their doors looking to collaborate and create. One such case was highlighted recently in Entrepreneur magazine when guest writer Ishan Goel spent time with Birmingham, Alabama’s YBN Nahmir. The young rapper, who’s real name is Nick Simmons, spent time with Goel and talked to him about how he used Xbox 360 to teach himself music without the expensive equipment, connect with a wide range of fans and audiences, pick and choose from a myriad of differing regional hip-hop styles and sub-genres to create his own sound, and build a personal brand.
With the Xbox 360 being as connected as it is, Nahmir was able to use it to his advantage by using his gameplay to develop a network. He also uses Instagram and other social media platforms to meet his fans and supporters right where they are. This goes against the grain of spreading a wide net across social media platforms that he does not have an interest in. The article points out how Nahmir uses a laser focus in areas of technology and brand strategy to hone in on a fan base that is genuine, and growing.
Young "artistpreneurs" such as Nahmir have grown up in a world in which technology,
social media and connected devices rule the day. They don’t know a world without it. For that reason, they have learned the lessons of the artists and entrepreneurs that came before them, taken them, and applied them to their own aspirations and endeavors. The result is a world where young artists truly are able to do much more themselves. Yes, there is something still to be said for having a solid, focused team around you. But the point is that as much as the industry has been fueled on the barriers to entry, many young artists are taking advantage of the fact that those barriers continue to crumble year after year. From he mid-2000s success of an artists like Souljah Boy to the recent brilliance in business and ownership displayed by Nipsey Hussle, new school rappers and emcees will only continue to take advantage of the advances in technology that arise every few months, as well they should.