Entrepreneurial Advice in Rap Music (Part 1)

A friend of mine recently noted the similarities between startups and rap as expressed through the music of its entrepreneurial lyricists.

Enjoy this collection of entrepreneurial advice in rap music, collaboratively written with the Medium community.


“Everything I’m not made me everything I am”

Kanye West (Everything I Am)

What you don’t build is as important as what you do build. Beware of feature creep. Prioritization and focus make good products.


“Actions have reactions, don’t be quick to judge.

You may not know the hardships people don’t speak of.”

Gang Starr (Moment of Truth)

Pay closer attention to what people do over what they say. When interviewing customers, it’s important to understand their context and motivations.


“Number 4: I know you heard this before

‘Never get high on your own supply’”

Notorious B.I.G. (Ten Crack Commandments), h/t Carlo Almendral

A reminder to beware of confirmation bias. Remain objective.


“I had to get off the boat so I could walk on water”

Jay-Z (Diamonds)

Startups are never easy and those that change the world, are often perceived as impossible. If you want to change the world, you need to get outside your comfort zone.


“I don’t know what’s better, gettin laid or gettin paid

I just know I’m gettin one the other’s gettin away”

Kanye West (Diamond Girl) h/t Will Dennis

Work/life balance is often at odds. Recognize how work affects your social life and relationships.


“Same old shit, just a different day

Out here tryna get it, each and every way”

Ace Hood (Hustle Hard) h/t Colby

Entrepreneurship can be a grind but to succeed you must remain persist.


“What does it take to be number one?

Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers (hey)”

 Nelly (#1) h/t Austin Walne

Scaleability of web software often results in one dominate winner and several distant players fighting for scraps.


“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment

You own it, you better never let it go

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo”

Eminem (Lose Yourself) h/t Corey Gwin

You only get one first impression with investors, customers, and your team. Put your all into it.


“Numbers is hard and real and they never have feelings

But you push too hard, even numbers got limits”

Mos Def (Mathematics)

Intuition and “gut feeling” drive entrepreneurial innovation but you cannot disregard data. Numbers don’t lie.


“They tell us no we say yeah, they tell us stop we say go”

Eminem (Mosh), h/t Diego Hijano

Inevitably, people are going to shit on your startup, question your motivations and your idea. Non-consensus is a good thing so soldier on.


“Somebody’s gotta be there when it gets ugly

Somebody’s gotta be there when it gets bloody

Somebody’s gotta get their hands dirty

Yo, it’s a fucked up job but somebody’s gotta do it”

The Roots (Somebody’s Gotta Do It)

Founders don’t begin a startup to deal with legal incorporation, accounting, fundraising, hiring/firing, and other messy tasks. But these activities are necessary and need to be done.


“All right stop, collaborate and listen”

Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby) h/t Ken Romano

Avoid the hive mind. Listen to your customers and collaborate with your team.


“I gots to make a move and make it soon, uhh

I gots to take a block and make it boom {BOOM}

I take the car and hit it with this boom

Now come on, let’s get that money!”

DMX (Make a Move)

Startups aren’t about branded hoodies, ping pong, and kegerators. It’s a business and eventually startups need to generate revenue. Focus on monetization early to validate the business model.


“I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell

I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well”

Jay-Z (U Don’t Know)

Your customers often don’t know they need your product or service. It’s up to you to be convincing and persistent.


“Ah, push it”

Salt'n'Pepper (Push It)

Ship early and often.


Ready for part 2? Let’s write it together here.

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