Wanna Start a Company or Raise Venture Capital? Listen to Rap Music


It’s pretty much undisputed at this point there is a connection between successful venture capitalists & entrepreneurs, and listening to hip-hop music.

This is totally unscientific, of course. But it makes total sense to me now.

I don’t know when it started, but these days, I’m seeing it everywhere.

And I know it’s crazy, and I know I’m making something out of nothing here, but I sincerely believe that there is a correlation between ambition and listening to rap.

Here’s Ben Horowitz (of A16Z, investors in Instragram, Airbnb, etc.) talking about how Kanye West’s Stronger helped Ben process “11th-hour, late-night auditing mishaps that almost stymied the $1.6 billion sale of Opsware.”

We also know that Horowitz’ love of hip hop was a factor in the firm’s $15M investment in Rap Genius, a rap lyrics site that is trying to be the meta-data layer above everything (actually a cool idea).

Here’s Mark Suster (a well-known blogger and VC) relating his entrepreneurial experience to 8 Mile.

Pretty sure Fred Destin listens to it even though he claims his main influence is Crystal Castles.

And hey, here’s Shervin Pishevar (Uber, Tumblr, etc.) tweeting out Pusha T lyrics. Clearly I’m onto something.

Am I just seeing things? Maybe.

But I’ll tell you what listening to outrageous, sometimes super arrogant music does to you.

It pumps you the fuck up. It makes you feel capable— like you can take on the world.

I think that either ambitious people listen to hip-hop, or, rap makes people ambitious. You decide. But check this.

A lot of rap actually is about business.

Let’s take an easy one: 10 Crack Commandments by Notorious B.I.G.Sure it’s about slinging crack-cocaine. But it also actually offers good advice.

Not kidding.

[Rule] Number 2: Never let em know your next move

Number 4: Never get high on your own supply (never believe your own press)

Number 7 (this rule is so underrated): Keep your family and business completely separated

Other songs teach you about haters, about spending too much money, or focusing on yourself instead of others.

Now, a lot of people might say it’s a bad idea to take advice from egomaniacs.

Nonsense! I think there’s something to learn from everyone, as long as you consider the source before deciding. (I also think this about crappy self-help books btw.) And hey, they did make money, they clearly know something.

Anyway if you wanna get yourself hyped-up, here’s my top 5 tracks to get me super enthusiastic.

And in case you’re wondering about my credibility well… this was before your time, but although I am the whitest man alive, I did have a hip-hop radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. So. 🙂

Anyway, enjoy! Now go do something amazing.





14 responses to “Wanna Start a Company or Raise Venture Capital? Listen to Rap Music”

  1. James Avatar

    Agreed! I like Ice T’s “O.G. Original Gangster” for motivation.

    What you’re really discussing here is your own version of music therapy.

  2. Luca Avatar

    Rap music is built on the story of the underdog. Rags to riches in many cases. The minority vs the majority. The people vs the machine.

    So it goes without saying that entrepreneurs should empower themselves through rap influences. I wrote a post on my blog yesterday about Virtual Mentors. Virtual Mentors being those people/characters that have traits you admire, those individuals who inspire you and rap artists are exactly that.


    I have a degree in music, and now run my own company. I put a lot of my knowledge down to the time I spent years studying 2 Pac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Eminem.

    There’s no denying they all share the hunger, dedicated and discipline required to become the top of your game.

    We all learn something from rappers, their stories, struggles and achievements.

    Top stuff Julien. Cheers


  3. Lukas Avatar

    I somehow enjoy listening to rap from time to time even though it’s not the most “ear-sthatically” pleasing music for me.
    It’s kind of like having a coach at your side reminding you of what’s possible and to stay determined.

    The classic for me is Eminem’s Lose Yourself.

  4. Rog Law Avatar

    “It pumps you the fuck up. It makes you feel capable— like you can take on the world.”


  5. Mitch Avatar

    I’m a great rapper (just ask my two embarrassed teenagers) but truth be told, I don’t like rap but do enjoy helping clients build and protect their businesses. My suggestion would be to watch motocross or supercross. Balls to the wall- take no prisoners- high risk high reward effort. Now that’s what it’s like for me 🙂

  6. nolason Avatar

    I wonder if…

    “Label owners hate me, I’m raising the status up/
    I’m overcharging niggas for what they did to the Cold Crush/
    Pay us like you owe us for all the years that you hoed us/
    We can talk, but money talks, so talk more bucks”

    … will ever make the list of quotables.

  7. Dominic Hackett Avatar
    Dominic Hackett

    Great post. Loved the part about being the whitest guy.

  8. Kurtis Avatar


    Completely, completely agree! I also happen to think hip hop is the most honest genre of music. See: Jay-Z ‘No Hook’


  9. Peter Paluska Avatar

    Bull crap.

    Rap music is basically the bottom of the barrel, generally speaking. Of course, there are some exceptions, like early to middle period work by The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, and Public Enemy, i.e. Old School.

    OK, I admit it, this is simply the way I feel about rap and hip hop music. But, you have to admit, much of the recent crop of rap hop and whatever IS violent, IS degrading toward women, IS about biting off the hand that is feeding it and giving it life in the first place.

    When I want inspiration, I listen to the best in contemporary jazz and classical music. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, J.S. Bach, Mozart, FJ Haydn, Ryuichi Sakamoto – these guys over Jay-Z, Kanye, and Eminem ALL DAY LONG.

    As Bill Cosby would say, come on, people! Let’s have some real style and sophistication.

  10. Radhika Avatar

    I think there’s a pretty big difference between rap and hip-hop. Hip-hop is a genre, rap is a style.

    Using them interchangeably pushes my buttons, because it’s so easy to rap in a totally different genre (see Twenty One Pilots).

  11. Adam Avatar

    Depends on where you are in the stages of life. Every man goes through the “fuck bitches get money.” stage. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s simple evolution and rap music speaks directly to this crucial part of life.

  12. Thomas Mensink Avatar

    Nice one! I wrote a similar blog post recently; Why Startups Should Listen to Rap Music. I invite you to have a look at http://high5ventures.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/why-startups-should-listen-to-rap-music/.

  13. Alan Avatar

    A show on Sirius? Man, that is rad! Heh, as an aside, I’ve owned a hundred shares of theirs for almost ten years now. As another aside, your site has helped me make some important decisions since I’ve found it a month or two ago, and so far I think I’m doing better – even making those mistakes that I’m learning from because I’m getting into more stuff again. Thanks for that.

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