I know it’s bold to declare Nipsey Hussle as the contemporary entrepreneurial equivalent of Moses, but take a moment to hear me out. If you’re at all familiar with the Bible, or if you have attended a Christian church at any point in your life, you’ve probably learned at some point that Moses’ claim to fame leading the Israelites through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land. By now, I’m sure that many of you have seen this statistic floating across the internet. 42.1 % of African American’s owned their own home in 1968. A whopping 50 years later and that statistic has only increased by .1 %. Even with greater access to high paying jobs and educational opportunities, African American’s are still lacking when it comes to playing the game of ownership.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around and see that he who owns the land, owns his own destiny. Gentrification is occurring across America in cities large and small and African Americans are being displaced at alarming rates. I recently moved from Atlanta, once known as a mecca for African Americans who aspired to live the ‘good life’ at a reasonable cost of living. As an African American, one of the most attractive aspects of Atlanta was the fact that no matter where you ventured throughout the city you once saw black people doing good and living well. If you look around at modern-day Atlanta proper, melanin has certainly become more sparse through the various restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment venues throughout the city.
We know the story. We’ve seen it unfold 1,000 times. Atlanta. Harlem. Brooklyn. Detroit. New Orleans. Heck, even Charlottesville, Virginia where I grew up and attended school. People of color are being forced to move further and further away from the urban centers, though the metropolitan areas continue to house the majority of jobs and economic opportunities. Or, if they choose to sustain their dwellings in large urban metropolitan areas, people of color are often subject to sub-standard living conditions leading to the resentment that often leads to an increase in robberies, theft, and violent crimes.
All in all, as African Americans our ability to live the standard middle-class lifestyle, provide for our families, and build a legacy that allows us to leave something for our children is diminishing. Or, another interpretation based upon this popular social media statistic is that while some of us may have the ability to leverage capital to acquire more “things”, our aggregate ownership has not increased a single percent since 1968. Gloomy.
This is where Nipsey Hussle comes in, providing a fresh and relatable example of success and ownership that renders numerous lessons for black people, and especially black entrepreneurs to heed. You can say that Nipsey Hussle has the keys, and he not only uses them to improve his own life and the lives of the people around him, but he openly shares his learnings with the hopes that oppressed and underserved communities across the globe can leverage his model for success to generate wealth and financial freedom.
Nipsey Hussle Owns His Entire Music Catalogue
Ownership is not a new idea. The aspiration to own one’s entire music catalog is certainly not just 2018 #goals. But it is probably one of the most important lessons that any artist, entrepreneur, business owner or publisher can learn. Michael Jackson did it. Anita Baker did it. Jay-Z did it. Even the Migos and 21 Savage are on it. Prince was willing to walk around with a silly looking tattoo on his face so that we didn’t have to learn the lesson of owning your own content the hard way.
Basically, own your own content and you will reap the rewards in perpetuity. In it’s simplest terms this means that you get to live off of whatever you create, but more importantly, your children get to eat off of your creativity. And their children’s children get to live off of your creativity as long as your bloodline runs. Owning your content doesn’t just have applications in music. Whether you write a book, cut a record, make a beat, or build a website, as long as it’s making money, that money goes to you, and you ultimately decide how that content evolves over time.
Before I say this, know that I would never ever diss Lauryn Hill. But please, don’t get Lauryn HIll’ed! She’d probably tell you the same. I was so excited to see Lauryn Hill perform for the first time in 2017. I sat for 2 hours and watched her perform lightning speed renditions of her once glorious and timeless album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Why? Because she didn’t own her content. That lesson alone was enough to make her turn her back on the music business for over 20 years. Don’t be Lauryn. (My apologies, Ms. Hill).
Nipsey Hussle Constantly Educates Himself on New Investment Opportunities
And we should be doing the same. One thing that’s so dope about black people, but also not so dope about black people is that we can sometimes exhibit a follower/bandwagon mentality which results in everyone hopping on and riding out the latest trend whether it’s fashion, tv shows, catchphrases, clubs, or whatever. Again, this is cool – but sometimes by the time we get on to something, the real opportunity has passed.
Rather than being behind the curve when it comes to business ventures, Nipsey Hussle is consistently in front of the curve. Nipsey initially invested in Bitcoin in 2013. With his relatively new Marathon Clothing Store, he’s on the forefront of technology that combines the digital world with the physical world. He’s in early on marijuana legalization with his Marathon OG brand of kush. Y’all do realize that one-day marijuana will be legal in all 50 states, right? Sidebar: Look for investment opportunities now. Don’t be the Johnny come lately to the party that invested in Bitcoin 2 weeks before it crashed. Stay up on new opportunities, but don’t neglect the tried and true. Digital Currency is all the hype, but don’t forget that stocks, bonds, options, currency trading and real estate all present stable opportunities to increase your cash flow and your net worth as well.
In the past, people of color were denied opportunities to become educated on wealth generation and investment strategies and tactics. Ladies and gentlemen, the Internet. We have no excuse. Start to become familiar with the terms and conditions that lead to generational wealth, and when the time is right, go for it. And if all else fails, identify a pioneer like Nipsey Hussle who is on the forefront of money making magic and follow their moves.
Nipsey Hussle is Super Versatile
To that end, another great facet of Nipsey Hussle’s character as an entrepreneurial leader in our community is that like many other minority entrepreneurs these days, his portfolio of projects and ventures is extremely diversified. The old adage that one should strive for at least 7 streams of income is even more relevant today.
Because the world is evolving and changing at a more accelerated pace than at any other time in history, it’s SUPER important to have more than one thing moving at all times. As quickly as one hustle pops off, the algorithm changes or a new piece of technology comes out that makes what you were previously doing obsolete.
At one point, I thought I was going to get hood rich from helping entrepreneurs with their SEO. During the initial foundations of SEO, you could definitely generate a nice income helping people figure out and implement strategies to get to the top of the google searches. To collect $500 a month per customer on an ongoing basis for SEO work was not at all uncommon. In fact, most blogs indicate that if you charged any less than that most people wouldn’t even take you seriously.
I invested a lot of time, energy, and money into learning all about SEO so that I can incorporate that into my business. The moment I felt that I understood it and was starting to see positive results for my customers, Google switched it up. Google now requires so much more to rank at the top of searches that it renders SEO ineffective without being part of a more comprehensive and holistic digital strategy.
That’s not to say that SEO is not still a fruitful game, but if all of my efforts had been solely exhausted on SEO ranking with keywords, my revenue would have completely ceased. In today’s world, being a one trick pony will only get you so far. Nipsey Hussle owns The Marathon Store, The Marathon Agency, All Money In Records, OG Marathon, Vector 90 and Too Big to Fail, Followcoin, Fatburger, amongst a host of other business assets.
Diversify. Diversify. Diversify.
Neighborhood Nipsey Always Brings it Back to the Community
Nipsey Hussle didn’t get rich and abandon his community. I’ve seen the Marathon Store with own eyes. It’s legit in the middle of the hood. Like…the hood, hood. And that’s super dope! Who says we can’t we have nice things in the hood? I paid $60 for a sweatshirt on Crenshaw and Slauson. Who would have thought?
But the truth in the matter is, that we as a people or a community will only get as far as the least of us. Unless we are growing and evolving and bringing others along so that they don’t remain stuck in the same conditions that were once a hindrance to our own success, then what are we truly contributing?
Nipsey’s Vector90 project is a community co-working space and entrepreneurial hub specifically for inner-city entrepreneurs. To be a member, you must come from the Crenshaw district in LA. More than capital, more than mentorship, more than ideas, our community suffers from a lack of access and opportunity. Partnerships like Vector90 make it possible to provide and cultivate the type of opportunities that lead to generational change and generational wealth.
How many of us have transformative ideas, but lack the opportunity to execute on them? What do you do when you definitely have the will, but seems like you will never find the way?
I’m about to be controversial here. I love Jay and Bey. I truly love all that they are and all that they represent to our community. They are great. They do a wonderful job of creating opportunities for people who are already in their circle and who share the same level of influence that they do. Unfortunately, I don’t hear them engaged in many efforts to open doors to access and opportunity beyond their art. It’s amazing that they were able to flex their wealth by shutting down The Louvre. But what about creating an opportunity for kids who may not otherwise ever have an opportunity to visit The Louvre, to visit Paris and expand both their minds and their horizons?
It’s really great to see people who have made it turn around and create opportunities for other people to make it too.
The Economics of Digital Content and the Value of Knowing Your Worth
There is a theory made popular by author Kevin Kelly in his book 1000 True Fans, which states that you can create a substantial and sustainable income with just 1000 True Fans. If you have 1,000 people paying you $5 a month, that’s $5,000 per month in revenue and $60,000 per year.
Getting 1,000 people to “follow you” and be committed to your cause is not an easy feat, especially in this world where everyone is pulling for raving fans. But, if you can build an audience and provide value to them over and over again, you’ve just unlocked the code to financial freedom.
The great thing about digital content is that you can put your own price on it. You can sell an e-book for $5, or you can sell it for $25. If people truly buy into your mission and respect the value that you offer, they will have no problem paying the $25 price, and you’ve just made 5x more for the same piece of content.
In 2013, Nipsey Hussle executed on an experiment which netted him $100,000 in revenue from a mixtape. Nipsey sold 1000 units of Crenshaw mixtape for $100 each. Imagine if you valued your work the same way. Many of us likely live in that space between “the job we hate” and the “business of our dreams” because we continually sell ourselves short rather than kindly demanding what we are truly worth.
For Nipsey, Crenshaw was an experiment that paid off handsomely. For us entrepreneurs, our goal should not be to adapt our prices to fit the worst case scenario. But rather, we should be establishing our prices based upon the true market value and the value that we provide, and then finding and grooming the audience that is willing to pay us based on the best case scenario for our business.
Nipsey Hussle is an endearing figure for most black entrepreneurs because he is relatable. I may not be able to relate to the dream of creating an international shoe brand and selling it to millions of customers around the world like Kanye. While it’s entirely possible, sometimes a dream can seem too far away to be real. On the flip side, I can definitely grasp the dream of opening a clothing store right in the neighborhood where I grew up. That’s the hope that Nipsey provides. That’s what Nipsey promotes. That’s what Nipsey represents. Access and Opportunity; so that we may too one day learn the lessons that will eventually lead us to the Promised Land.