Hip Hop x Finance

Hip Hop x Finance

April 12th,  2024  [3 min. read]

By Drew W. Boyer, CFP®

I grew up during the golden age of hip-hop. 

Before it became commercialized, face tattoos, and turned rap entrepreneurs into billionaires.

Hip-hop has been the soundtrack throughout my life- especially from my teens to early adulthood. My generation witnessed its evolution from the 80’s gold chains, breakdancing, and boomboxes, to the early 90’s hardcore rap wars, and the over-the-top rap videos and lifestyles of late the 90’s.

Just like rappers, I’ve made my fair share of bad money mistakes.

In my twenties, I struggled financially with student loan debt and credit cards and trying to build a business from scratch. By my thirties though, I had paid the tuition to the School of Hard Knocks, began taking my own advice, and mastering my credit and finances. Now in my forties, I stand as a successful entrepreneur- just like the rappers who made good money decisions in their respective careers.

Music has always been a profound influence in my life. From breakdancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller with my brothers on our parents' linoleum floor, to shooting hoops, listening to Arrested Development, Kriss Kross, and Tribe Called Quest—hip hop provided a glimpse into another culture so different than my countryside upbringing. On TV, it was Fresh Prince of Bel Air that gave me a view of A Different World far removed from my own. Who can forget Dwanye Wayne and his flip glasses or Cross Colours clothing?

Little did I know that those infectious hip hop beats and rhymes would influence me on the one instrument I found out that I could play- the drumset.  Perfect for a young boy with extra energy and wanting attention. What started in junior high school, helped me develop a deep appreciation for rhythm and storytelling—the same elements that I use daily running my business.  Rhythm for planning and rhyming for advice.

If you share a similar background, you can appreciate the impact hip-hop and other kinds of music can have on financial education.. As young children, we learn through observation, conversation, and nursery rhymes. Hip-hop has a unique way of translating complex financial concepts into relatable narratives. C.R.E.A.M., Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems, Hark Knock Life, Started from the Bottom, A Milli… the list is long, strong, and down to get the mental friction on.

In my late teens and early twenties, there was a clash between East Coast v. West Coast hip hop. The hardcore personas depicted in music videos with their million-dollar jewelry, luxury cars, attractive lady friends, and stacks of cash—captivated a young, broke man’s mind. Following the tragic deaths of Tupac and Biggie, coupled with the burst of the tech stock bubble and the 9/11, brought a sobering reality check about what is ‘real’.

Hip-hop, like life, isn't just about the glitz and glamor portrayed in music videos; it's about growing up, learning from experiences, and navigating real-world challenges. It’s about the struggle, but having confidence enough in yourself to rise up from your current situation to something better.  That’s financial planning.

Internally, I use hip-hop as a lens to teach financial literacy to my clients. That may come as a surprise, but it’s true.  Just as every great hip-hop song samples other beats and melodies, I re-invent the circle with time-tested advice I was taught built on discipline and repetition.

You don’t have Can't Touch This by MC Hammer without Rick James' Super Freak or Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice without Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure. These first megahits demonstrate the importance of skillfully blending existing elements to create something new and relatable—much like managing finances and building wealth.

Financial success, like producing a hit song, requires the teamwork of both a producer and artist. As a financial advisor, I get to play the producer and my clients are the artists.  Together, we take their current situation, mix-in their future goals, and craft a #1 hit financial plan just for them. When the work is put in, then retirement can begin.

My journey through hip-hop and finance has taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, creativity, and the importance of never giving up to get where you want to go. 

Are you ready to get where you want to go?

Regulators, mount up!