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Hip Hop & Entrepreneurship Comes to Essex County College “Potential Game Changer”

BY lyanne

HipHop 101

When hip-hop “Kulture” began nearly 40 years ago, corporate America ignored it. That was a Big mistake.  Hip-hop has grown well beyond the urban market since the genre’s first hit, “Rapper’s Delight,” which was released in 1979.  It now generates more than $20 billion per year and has moved beyond its musical roots, internationally, transforming into a dominant and increasingly lucrative lifestyle.

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Visionaries foresee hip-hop-inspired housewares, furniture, linens, food, writing instruments and even a special hip-hop DVD section at Best Buy.  The Russell Simmons’ empire is well placed to garner a big chunk of that.  The original hip-hop mogul, has his hand in every piece of the pie, from apparel to cell phones to video-games. He recently sold his apparel company, Phat Fashions, to Kellwood for $140 million, but will remain CEO. He and Rick Rubin founded Def Jam Recordings in 1984 in a New York University dorm room with a $5,000 investment. At that time, rap artists were selling music out of cars and at parties. Entrepreneurs ended up dominating the industry.

Although Simmons was the first, his road to success has been followed by many others, from Damon Dash and Jay-Z, the owners of the Roc-A-Fella kingdom, to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, owner of the Bad Boy Entertainment conglomerate.  According to Forbes magazine Combs,  reeled in $50 million in the past 12 months alone, thanks to his Bad Boy record label, Sean John clothing line, Blue Flame agency, and endorsement deal with Diageo’s Ciroc vodka.  Blue Flame is a full-service marketing agency with $12 million in billings last year. It’s responsible for hooking up Combs as the voice on the Microsoft Xbox commercials and for his appearance in the ad campaign for Coca-Cola’s Sprite Remix.

The market continues to grow.   Starlight Music Group (SLMG) is a Multi-Media Corporation specializing in labels and artist relationship development. They work with the major record labels, which include; Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group,Warner Music Group, and EMI.  SLMG says its customer base is the 45 million hip-hop consumers between the ages of 13 and 34, 80 percent of whom are white. According to SLMG’s research, this group has $1 trillion in spending power.

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Starting in January for Spring 2014 semester, Essex County College will offer a course in hip-hop business which will eventually be develop into a Business Associate degree major by the end of the fall semester, once final accreditation is complete.  The brain child of JahJah Shakur, a PHD candidate, he explained, “ I designed this course and Degree Program to empower students to be job creators instead of job seekers.”  This course could be a game changer, in presenting business fundamental in a fresh and relevant application.   This is a student centered pedagogical methodology that seeks to attract, retain, and graduate at risk student populations in the greater Essex County Metropolitan area.Mr. Shakur said, “We are seeking to teach Hip Hop Business as an academic course of study that examines the domestic and international trillion dollar a year business enterprise of Hip Hop. Hip Hop Business consists of various industries and diverse markets such as music, fashion, media, social media, technology, etc. This has been a 5 year journey of consistent meetings with Essex County staff and administration to have a Hip Hop course of study and practice.  I am the Hip Hop Business Course and Degree Program Developer and Consultant. I created the syllabus which teaches students how to create business models for themselves and how to benefit and profit from a culture that they have organically created. Students will create a business plan of their own and build business partnerships with each other. This is the first course of its kind in the world where students can get a degree in Hip Hop Studies.”

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There have been several Hip Hop courses developed in the past at the College level throughout the country, with the content covering historical emergence of the music and/or its artistic  form.  Theses course are usually found in either history, music or urban studies department.   What make this significant, is this course is the first in the nation focus on the business aspect of the industry, and the course is part of a larger business division initiative.    Mr. Shakur explained, ” There are more than 300 plus courses in Hip Hop studies in America and the world but there is none where students can receive a major or study Hip Hop as business. E.C.C. is the trailblazer in this mission to teach students how to create jobs and wealth creation strategies with the culture that they have created. America is in a recession but Hip Hop is not. “The students will learned to develop Hip Hop business start-up ventures and understands best practices, business modes, and development basis.  The course will also look at Hip Hop culture and economy, featuring case studies, multi-media presentations and guest lectures including artists and others in the industry. The interest has been overwhelming, said Mr. Shakur.  There are two classes currently completing enrolled, and others are being considered for business major that are interested in the new course.  Many young people only see the glamor of entertainment, and seek to emulated the artist they see and when those opportunities do not materialize, they lose hope .  We all cant be the artist but there are many support roles that substantive roles in the industry, and some are equally lucrative  business functions in the Hip Hop industry.

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Mr. Carlos Rivera,  Dean of Business, Industry & Government, said that the hip-hop major program will focus more on the business side of the industry, teaching students how to launch, plan, organize and control a start-up business in hip-hop.  Dr. Augustine A. Boayke, chair of the Division of Business,  program will help students “formalize their talents and understand the economic conditions necessary to help them grow” in the industry, he said.

Along with Introduction to Hip-Hop Business, ECC will also offer Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Introduction to Public Administration, the report said. Both classes will also develop into new Business Associate degree majors by the end of the fall 2014 semester.

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If you are interested to learn more go to essex.edu to register for the course which is HHP 101: Introduction to Hip Hop Business. jahjahshakur@yahoo.com

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