Hip-Hop has long been a source of motivation in my business career.  Growing up an athlete in a rougher part of Northeast Ohio, I was exposed to hip-hop and rap at a very young age.  I loved the music so much that in elementary school, I brought in a cassette tape of Snoop Doggy Dogg (that was his name back then) for “show and tell” and made the teacher find a music player so I could show my classmates.  As I got older, I kept hearing things like “when are you going to grow out of that music” or “I can’t wait until your music tastes get more eclectic.”  Truth is, I knew I would never grow out of the music and it would continue to be the vast majority of the music that played in my car and headphones at the gym.

Why do I love hip-hop and rap so much now as an adult?  Simple.  I can relate to the music on a visceral-level because it speaks to those that have a “hustler” mindset.  There is a fundamental disconnect between the way most people see a hustler and what a hustler sees when she or he looks in the mirror. On a bad day, a hustler sees themselves as someone who needs to improve drastically. On a good day, a hustler sees themselves as someone who could have done something different to improve their hustle. The consistency is the fact that a hustler always strives to be better.

Maybe you don’t see that in hip-hop or rap lyrics because you have a hard time listening to the words over the hard beats and bass.  I decided to find 5 lyrics that have a great application to the business world and entrepreneurs.

“Turn that 62 to 125, 125 to 250, 250 to half a million, ain’t nothing nobody can do with me.” (Kanye West ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z, “Clique”)

Lesson – Scale your business!  It is never too early to start thinking about how to increase metrics in your business that will fuel growth.  If your business is on the verge of explosive growth, make sure it’s in a healthy state before undertaking major growth initiatives.

“50 told me go head and switch the style up and if they hate, let ’em hate, watch the money pile up.” (Kanye West, “Good Life”)

Lesson – Surround yourself with people that will fuel your creativity to disrupt industries.  Some people in that industry are going to dislike this aggressive path to success but its the only true way to avoid competition.
“It’s foul what this money could do, cash corrupts the loyal.” (Nas, “A Queen’s Story”)

Lesson – Money makes people act much differently so make sure you are aligning yourself with the right partners and giving the appropriate amount of power and equity to the right people.  I think everyone can remember the Facebook battle between Co-Founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin.

“I’d like for y’all to meet the love of my life, her name’s the game.” (Drake ft. Young Jeezy, “Unforgettable”)

Lesson – Work-Life balance is a myth when you are trying to grow your business dreams. The fact is that work and life are now seamless. It’s the quality of how they intersect that we have to focus on to get a semblance of balance.

“What does it take to be number 1? Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers.” (Nelly, “Number 1”)

Lesson – Business is a relentless pursuit of success and if you’re not striving for the highest level, then why are you even competing?  Entrepreneurship is not for the weak.