The 7 rap rhymes that every entrepreneur should know.

I love listening to rap and hip-hop. The beats are great and the lyrics, while crude, often speak to the entrepreneurial “make something of yourself” story line that I admire. Clearly this isn’t true about all rap artists, and I actually have a problem with a lot of newer mainstream work, but this is certainly true about my old favorites like the Notorious B.I.G and 2Pac.  Yesterday was the anniversary of 2Pac’s death, so it seems like a good time to pull out some insights from a few of my favorite rap lyrics.

1. Mo money, mo problems (Notorious B.I.G.) – The idea that money equals success is very ingrained in the American psyche. Biggie understood, and spoke often, about the differences he felt between his impoverished upbringing and more recent wealth. It is clear that issues of loneliness, trust of others and freedom of movement were among the downsides of having money.  He is not saying greed isn’t good, but he is cautioning about allowing success to change the person that you are and that got you that success in the first place. Listen to this line

2. I don’t mean to sound sleazy, but tease me, I don’t want it if it’s that easy (2Pac) – For many of us, the feeling of accomplishment comes from stretching ourselves. This is as true when doing an alpine ascent as it is when building a business. Being an entrepreneur, or hustler in rap parlance, means that nothing is handed to to you on a silver platter. It does take hard work, risk and resilience to succeed but that is what makes the ultimate success so sweet. Listen to this line

3. Now I can let these dream killers kill my self esteem-or use my arrogance as steam to power my dreams (Kanye West) – There is nothing that puts me in overdrive like someone telling me that I can’t do something. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, and being confident enough to take the big swings when it feels right is important. Listen to this line

4. No man alive has ever witnessed struggles I survived (2pac) – This one has special meaning to me. Whenever I hear this line, I think of my grandparents who both survived Auschwitz. If they can make it through that hell, rebuild their lives and raise two successful children, what everyday obstacles can’t I get through? The thought of my grandfather’s smiling face is quite literally the image I concentrate on when I’m trying to overcome large obstacles like a mountain peak or calm down before an important presentation. Listen to this line

5. Will Smith don’t got to cuss in his raps to sell records – well I do, so f*** him and f*** you too (Eminem) – It sounds crude, but it has a good point. Every brand has its own target market. It’s better to be true to your core fans and personality than try to be everything to everybody. Listen to this line

6. Don’t speak to fools, they scorn the wisdom of your words (NAS) – I include this lyric because I actually think NAS is wrong. The fact is that smart people are the ones who are listening. Even “fools” have valuable information to share; you just need to listen hard enough.

7. Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart’s in it, and live the phrase “the sky’s the limit” (Notorious B.I.G) – How many people never take a risk to achieve their dreams? The best entrepreneurs, like the best poker players, understand when to put all the chips on the table. Listen to this line

The rappers that I’ve mentioned above are entrepreneurs and their stories of overcoming adversity, believing in themselves and taking big swings are lessons many of us can learn from.  While they grew up under different conditions, the concepts, the motivations, and the passions are the same. Do you have any favorite lines?  Use the comment box to share them with us.

The 7 rap rhymes that every entrepreneur should know.

9 thoughts on “The 7 rap rhymes that every entrepreneur should know.

  1. Cyndee says:

    Really interesting perspective. Your grandparents
    Were very extraordinary people because
    They had to put their grief aside to concentrate
    On raising a family with love and joy.
    This was, in my opinion, their gift to me and to you.
    But they would never consider themselves
    so special just extraordinarily lucky. Cyndee AKA mom

  2. I see that you tagged Jay-Z, but do not see any quotes. If I may:

    “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man” – Your personal brand is a business within itself. Always research, maintain and improve your own name and personal brand.

    “Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it” – Don’t be intimidated by those with more connections or experience than you.

    “Nine to five is how to survive – I ain’t trying to survive… I’m trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot” – The 9-5 is for the birds. Work harder than your competition at whatever hours and you’ll do much more than just survive.


  3. admin says:

    @mikefraietta … I love Jay-Z, just didn’t get him into this one. Don’t worry there will be more rap as a metaphor for business posts. In fact, there are a couple Jay-Z songs that could use their own post all together. Thanks for posting the quotes here!

  4. Sebastien says:

    Love the post man. No doubt that some of these lyrics have great information in them if you listen the right way. Here’s a few to add to your collection, including a Jay-Z who I know you love:

    “It’s my life, my pain and my struggle. The song that I sing to you it’s my everything. Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first…And my thirst like the first song I sang.” (Jay-Z) – When you become an entrepreneur you make a decision. This decision is that you’re going to endure some very difficult times that require everything you have. Never lose that burning desire to be the best and give it all you have.

    “Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K. I got to say it was a good day.” (Ice Cube) – Common misconception is that running your own business is always fun and easy. Well, yes it can be fun, but most days it is a battlezone. And when that good day does come along, although it may seem like nothing to others, to the entrepreneur this day makes all the difference and keeps the dream alive.


  5. I’m with NAS on his line, though. Fools will often – through their ignorance or their jealousy – attempt to derail your efforts. Definitely steer clear of fools. The caveat here is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The TRUE fool has nothing to offer, but don’t dismiss someone as a fool before giving them the chance.

    But if we’re dropping Ice Cube lines: “I even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp, and it read ‘Ice Cube’s a Pimp’.” Proper marketing is the key to finding your target market. Haha.

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