Nipsey Hussle has made a name for himself as more than a rapper, but as a savvy businessman. The South Central native has been spreading the gospel of ownership, equity, and independence in his music for years, and with the recent release of his debut album Victory Lap, Nipsey has cemented himself in the echelon of Rapper/Moguls.
Determined not to let his gang history define his future, Nip decided to take the business knowledge he was learning through trial and error to fund his music career and apply it to the music itself to motivate and inspire those in his community.
The move that really introduced Nipsey’s business savvy to the world was the Proud2Pay campaign he launched around the release of his Crenshaw mixtape. While the mixtape was free for everyone digitally, he also had physical copies which he sold for $100 a piece. Inspired by a similar story in the book Contagious by Jonah Berger, the audacity of the move made people take notice and his closest fans supported; Jay-Z even bought 100 copies out of respect for the play.
Since the Creshaw mixtape, Nipsey has made the effort to show the world that his skill as a businessman is just as good as his skills as a rapper. Let’s take a look at a few of Nipsey’s business ventures to date.
The Marathon Clothing is Nipsey’s clothing brand that also doubles as “merch” for his music career. The goal is to evolve the brand beyond just “merch” and create a lifestyle brand. He recently opened Marathon’s first flagship location, which he has dubbed the world’s first smart store.
In an interview with Complex, Nipsey describes his vision for his retail network.
“The goal is to have 10 retail spaces in my top 10 markets, where we have the most traction. And then to be able to do what we did with Crenshaw, but in 10 different locations. Instead of doing pop-ups at clothing stores and shoe markets, we got a Marathon retail network across the country or across the world. When I drop my next project with Atlantic involved, we’ll do traditional retail—Best Buy, Target, whatever’s left. And then we’ll do a direct-to-consumer #Proud2Pay campaign, and we’ll use our retail spaces as the pop-up shops. So L.A., we’ll do the L.A. store. New York, we’ll do the New York store. Georgetown, in D.C., we’ll do one. Frisco, we’ll do one. The original concept was to be able to create a business outside of the traditional ecosystem, because we saw what happened with Crenshaw. We made a lot more money outside of iTunes and Target.”
The Marathon Agency is a talent-based brand/marketing agency attracting a diverse set of clients in all stages of their careers. The agency is helmed by Def Jam A&R executive Steve “Steve-O” Carless, marketing guru Karen Civil and creative Jorge Peniche (who is Nipsey’s road manager).
The tight-knit operation — comprised of the trio and two assistants — can be best described as industry heavyweights combining their skill sets to help shape and execute disruptive, left-of-field concepts for their clientele: Nipsey Hussle, YG, Jeezy, Nicki Minaj, Dave East, Andre Berto, Lajan Slim, and Nick Cannon.
Nipsey is a silent partner in the venture, offering a unique artist perspective when needed.
All Money In Records
All Money In is Nipsey’s record label, formed in 2010, the label is home to several west coast artists such as JStone, Cuzzy Capone and Pacman. Hussle has released several projects on his imprint including The Marathon (2010), The Marathon Continues (2011), Crenshaw (2013) and Mailbox Money (2014).
Recently Nipsey inked an joint venture deal with Atlantic Records to release his Victory Lap album.
Vector90 is an inner city based co-working community and incubator focused on developing underrepresented entrepreneurs. Vector90 offers a combination of private offices and shared work spaces, available on a month to month basis. The space features creative communal areas, commercial grade IT and business services, private phone booths and organic refreshment options.
Vector90 also provides mentorship, support, technical training, professional development and a comprehensive launch curriculum for start-ups. Vector90 prides itself on curating a culturally resonant and inclusive environment.
Too Big To Fail is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) center and Maker Space that encourages design thinking and innovation in local youth. In partnership with Vector90, it is creating impact hubs where neighborhood youth can feed off of each other’s talent, creativity, and support.
‘“Too Big To Fail” was coined to reflect the idea that certain institutions in our society are so large and interconnected that their failure would be catastrophic for the entire economy, and therefore must be supported by the broader public when facing potential failure. Inner-cities are “Too Big To Fail”, but despite their size and potential, have yet to receive the necessary support.’
Followcoin is a blockchain-based platform that allows cryptocurrency investors to follow and mimic the investment moves of top cryptocurrency influencers.
Vezt is a revolutionary new platform that gives artists and rights holders control over their new or existing songs and allows them to easily capitalize on their work by choosing portions of their songs to offer for sale to fans, friends, rights-buyers and brands.
The Vezt platform employs blockchain technology to track and collect royalty income transparently. Vezt offers a true marketplace for songs and gives artists the opportunity to make a living and continue doing what they love most – make music.
Nipsey has also ventured into the marijuana industry with his own strain called Marathon OG.
Nip signs an endorsement deal with Puma and releases a Victory Lap edition of the Puma Suede.
In 2014, Nipsey welcomed Fatburger to the Crenshaw district with a collaboration between the company and his Marathon Clothing brand to create custom “Crenshaw” branded uniforms for the employees to wear.
The black shirt features the classic Fatburger logo on the left chest, with Nipsey’s Crenshaw logo directly under it. A bigger version of the logo appears on the back, while Hussle’s Marathon flag appears on the left sleeve.
Nipsey and his brother are tapping into the multi-billion dollar hair industry with their store Elite Human Hair.
Baba Leo’s Fish Market
In an attempt to legitimately own the block, Nip saw an opportunity to bring a healthy food option to the hood when he and his brother took over the fish market that was in the space next door to his Marathon flagship store.
Hussle is more than just a rap name for Nipsey, his ability to tap into culture and create an entrepreneurship opportunity from it is commendable and highly inspirational. Nipsey Hussle is a true mogul in his own right.
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