In celebration of hip-hop's 50th anniversary, Variety partnered with the Black Music Coalition to put together an unranked list of the 50 greatest executives in the genre's history. Of course, it highlighted a lot of big names like Jay-Z, Diddy, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Eazy-E, and Jermaine Dupri. Also on the list were non-artist figures like Lyor Cohen, Irv Gotti, Suge Knight, and Andre Harrell, making for a well-rounded breakdown. Of course, there are many more names to break down, and you can find the full list of innovators and leaders here. For each mention, they briefly spoke on each business mogul's accolades, polling 40 voters or so that comprised of journalists and fellow industry execs.
"To paraphrase one of his most-frequently quoted lyrics," Variety said of Hov. "In March 2023, Jay-Z officially became a $2.5 billion business, man. The Brooklyn native has earned that rep, not only as one of the top-selling rappers of all time but by launching Roc-A-Fella Records, amassing a diverse portfolio including clothing, spirits, a streaming service and a stint as president of Def Jam." Furthermore, Dr. Dre earned similar respect for his work in both music and business, as did Diddy, 50 Cent, and many others.
Dr. Dre & 50 Cent With Eminem At The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
"Combs’ capacity for reinvention and diversification has enabled him to stay relevant for more than 30 years," Variety penned for Diddy's write-up. "He expanded into fashion, spirits, and wellness while setting an example for other aspiring moguls to follow." For Fif, they shared: "The man born Curtis Jackson was already one of the world’s biggest rappers when he co-created Starz’s 'Power'- a fitting title, since he’d long used it. He kickstarted his career by creating his own G-Unit mixtape series, revolutionizing the medium while drawing Dr. Dre and Eminem’s attention."
Meanwhile, Variety also highlighted Julie Greenwald, Ethiopia Habtemariam, Cathy Hughes, Debra Lee, Sylvia Rhone, Sylvia Robinson, and Mona Scott-Young as unsung heroines in the industry. Still, with such a rich history within the genre, surely they left out some names in the process. With that in mind, let us know in the comments who are the most impactful or under-appreciated rap execs in the comments. In addition, keep checking in with HNHH for more news and the latest updates on your favorite business titans within hip-hop.
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