Rappers and tech companies have quite a bit in common. They're hip, cool and creative. When they're first starting out, they dream about signing deals — VC deals and record deals. They also manage to accumulate a lot of hype. Some companies and rappers live up to the hype, while others never get close.
I'm a tech entrepreneur and a hip-hop fan — I'm always following tech business and hip-hop news. I enjoy reading about which companies are acquiring each other and which rappers are collaborating with each other. I also like the competition aspect of business and hip-hop, maybe because I like a good battle.
What I like about competition is that it brings out the best in the competitors. When companies compete, they're forced to innovate and find new ways to add value for consumers. When rappers call each other out and compete, they're forced to step up their game and spit better bars than their nemeses.
Even though they may not always admit it, rappers and companies both always have their eyes on the competition. The reaction and stir that Kendrick Lamar's “Control” verse caused felt similar to the reaction and stir that Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp caused. Even though these events are quite different, the same underlying feeling pervaded the tech and rap communities: “We need to step our game up.”
Given all the parallels, you're probably already comparing certain rappers to certain tech companies. (I'd like to believe my startup, WishBooklet,) is a talented unsigned rapper on the verge of becoming the next big thing. I also found many similarities between my favorite rappers and tech companies.
Below are 10 tech companies that are changing the world and the 10 game-changing rappers who resemble them most. I am not including any hardware or computer companies (with the exception of Apple) on this list. I do want to note that these are only applicable to companies and rappers alive today — meaning no Tupac or Biggie comparisons.
Apple and Jay Z
This is a comparison between the most valuable company in the world and the second most valuable (only second to Diddy) rapper in the world. Although their values are important, what's more important is how Apple and Jay Z were able to constantly reinvent themselves and remain true innovators. Apple and Jay Z have some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They both have an innate ability to predict future trends and know when to bet on them.
Microsoft and Nas
Microsoft and Nas will forever go down as one of the greats in their respective fields. Much how Nas and Jay Z feuded for years, Microsoft and Apple did as well. Microsoft and Nas may have some wins and some losses over Jay Z and Apple, but they continue to prove they are still elite forces in technology and hip-hop today. Microsoft and Nas will always remain favorites to the purists who really study technology and hip-hop, respectively.
Google and Eminem
Many people — myself included — feel that Eminem is the greatest rapper alive. It's also fair to say that Google is the most innovative company in the world. Talented is a word that could easily describe Eminem and the staff at Google. Both continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. It seems very few companies and rappers are able to genuinely compete with Google and Eminem and there is a long rap sheet of those that have tried.
Amazon and Dr. Dre
Amazon and Dr. Dre have both been around for a while, seemingly growing more valuable with age. Both Amazon and Dr. Dre have not only managed to stay relevant over the last few decades, but have managed to diversify their portfolios and grow empires. Amazon started out as an online bookstore and has become the world's largest online retailer, among other things. Dr. Dre began as a sixth of NWA and is now CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics.
Yahoo! and Lil Wayne
Yahoo! and Lil Wayne are household names that everybody knows and has used/listened to before. As some may feel that Yahoo! and Lil Wayne have already peaked, I believe they are simply exploring growth in different areas. Marissa Meyers did a great job of acquiring innovative startups and exploring new verticals. Lil Wayne has stepped back a little from rapping and has focused on building one of the most well known teams (YMCMB) in hip-hop today.
Facebook and Kanye West
Facebook recently celebrated a 10-year anniversary and Kanye West recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the release of his freshman album “College Dropout.” In the last 10 years, Facebook and Kanye West have continued to silence the critics (and just straight-up haters) as well as reach new levels of success and fortune.
Facebook is one of the most visited sites on the Internet, and Kanye West is one of the most awarded artists of all time (21 Grammys). Both Facebook and Kanye have always thought outside the box and challenged the status quo.
Twitter and Drake
Twitter and Drake are young superstars in the tech and hip-hop world. Twitter recently had a stellar IPO and Drake recently passed Jay Z for most number one hip-hop singles.
However, not everyone predicted the success from the beginning. Twitter was once called “the startup that wouldn't die.” This was due to the constant changing of CEOs, service outages and other obstacles they faced during first few years. Drake didn't fit the normal mold of a mega-rapper growing up, as he was a Canadian Jewish child actor. They have both came a long way in proving all of the initial doubters wrong.
LinkedIn and J. Cole
As the hip-hop world and social network world are both filled with glitz and glamour — both LinkedIn and J. Cole take a “professional” approach. When J. Cole first hit the scene, he quickly grew a fan base due to his refreshing take on hip-hop. He was a young, educated guy who rapped about meaningful topics but could also produce club hits. LinkedIn provided a refreshing take on social networks, as it created the first real social network for professionals.
Snapchat and Macklemore
Both Snapchat and Macklemore had remarkable 2013's. During past year and a half, Snapchat experienced seemingly unreal growth and Macklemore has ascended from an underground rapper to a multi-Grammy-winning artist. Snapchat and Macklemore also feel the same way about not selling out: Snapchat has turned down multiple acquisition offers, including one from Facebook, and Macklemore has turned down several record deals.
WhatsApp and Kendrick Lamar
These two have a lot of hype right now — and rightfully so. Both WhatsApp and Kendrick have reached new levels of success that few others share. But along with this success comes targets on their backs, as their competition is always watching. Neither WhatsApp nor Kendrick were overnight successes — they have both been putting in work for years, but now, all their dreams are finally coming to fruition.
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