Ben Horowitz Breaks Down The Lyrics To 'Hope' By Nas, Explains Hip Hop's Relevance To Business
47-year-old Ben Horowitz is a lot of things. He's a multimillionaire, worth $600 million. He's a brand name in Silicon Valley, as one of the more notable investors in the land.
He's also the latter half of the founding team at venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, along with cofounder Marc Andreessen. And then there's another fact, one that people might not expect.
"Hip-hop is super-relevant to my business — venture capital and management," Horowitz wrote in a guest column for the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
Horowitz is, by all accounts, a huge hip-hop fan. While some have said that his love for the genre manifested itself in his financial backing of Rap Genius, Horowitz' affection for music can be recognized more tangibly in blog posts on the Andreessen-Horowitz official site.
It is there that he frequently quote lyrics during which lengthy posts, showing a love that stems from an admiration of old school artists and their hustle.
"In the 1980s, most of the original rappers were entrepreneurs, recording CDs and selling them out of their cars," Horowitz wrote. "More important, hip-hop artists make listeners feel their stories — a skill many business managers need."
One of the many songs that Horowitz says has had an impact on him is Nas' "Hope," a track that was featured on the artist's "Hip-Hop is Dead" album, which was released in 2006.
"Hope' is the album's last track and looks back to a time when many rap artists were disheartened by how much the music was becoming mainstream and commercial," he said. "Instead of trying to stand out, many artists sold out, and the music lost some of its lyricism and poetry. To make his point, Nas takes you back to when he was 9. You see the hip-hop world through his eyes and what was lost along the way... Most of 'Hope' is sung a cappella, which is rare for hip-hop."
The song is favorite of Horowitz not only because of its "amazing" lyrics, but also because it give him a important lessons that have impacted his writing and the way he communicates with people.
"'Hope' and hip-hop in general, also have had a big influence on my writing — its rhythm, simplicity and impact," he wrote. "The music tells you that the most compelling way to relate something is to describe it as it happened. Forget about what things mean. If you can make an audience live what you've lived, they are more likely to grasp your intent and make your mission their own."