★ 12 Hidden Money Lessons in Hip Hop
I love talking about money. Spreadsheets? Passive income? Optimizing retirement accounts? Pull up a chair, because I’m IN and boy, have I got things to say.
If you’re reading this, you’re also probably kind of obsessed with talking about money. Nerd alert, amirite? Not what you think when you think ‘super cool conversation topic’. What might surprise you though, is that the very gatekeepers of cool in our world are also totally obsessed money as well.
Hip hop defines just about everything that’s cool today. How rappers and producers dress, talk, and walk trickles down into the world of everyday people like you and me. Who hasn’t tried to learn a hip hop dance on YouTube? Remember the time of YOLO? (Shoutout to Drake on that one.) Even further back, remember MC Hammer and his incredible parachute pants Big pop culture moment there.
A lot of rappers that we see dripping in gold and driving Lamborghini’s grew up in poverty. Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Biggie Smalls, Method Man. And that’s what’s really the most important part of hip hop: it’s a uniquely American art, that centers on the challenges and successes of growing up in America. Threaded into the entire genre is the story of making it when the entire world is against you.
As someone who comes from a low-income background myself, I can tell you that not having any money makes you want ALL THE MONEY.
Not being able to pay bills or build away savings is a difficult way to live. Money can become kind of an obsession. You want it, you get it, you talk about how you got it, and how you can get more.
In addition to giving us incredible catch phrases and pant styles, hip hop can teach us all a lot about money. What a bonus that each lesson also comes complete with a music video!
Get ready to groove…
#1. “Floss a little, invest up in a mutual fund.”
Investing advice from Busta Rhymes? Yes, indeed. Dangerous starts with Busta talking about his life at the top of the rap game. ‘Floss a little, invest up in a mutual fund’ he tells listeners.
That’s great advice for those of us who aren’t millionaires as well. Enjoy yourself, and invest your money in mutual funds. Mutual and index funds are beloved in the personal finance world for their diversity. Plus, they traditionally return better than picking individual stocks. Wise words from Busta.
#2. “Money trees is the perfect place for shade.”
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented rappers on the scene today. His songs tackle a lot of topics: racial inequality, sobriety, and of course, money. ‘Money trees is the perfect place for shade’ Kendrick’s raps in Money Trees.
Having money in the bank means peace of mind. I’d say most FIRE bloggers have this money trees mindset. They build up their savings until they reach the point they can kickback and relax in their financial freedom. Kendrick is clear that having substantial savings is the way to go.
#3. “If you ain’t got no money take your broke a** home!”
The best line, and lesson, in Glamorous, by Fergie featuring Ludacris. ‘If you ain’t got no money take your broke a** home!’ AMEN. If you don’t have the money to spend on a night out, DON’T GO OUT. It’s that simple! Fergie knows it. Ludacris knows it. Don’t go into debt for a night out with friends. Don’t go into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses.
#4. “Cash rules everything around me.”
That’s a lesson every FIRE blog out there will tell you. That’s what a ‘fu** it fund’ is all about. Having money gives you control over your life. If you don’t have your own money, you’re dependent on someone or something else. Maybe you’re a bank teller and not a NYC drug dealer, but both those people are chasing after money, and ultimately, freedom.
#5. “I ain’t got no car note.”
‘I ain’t got no car note’ declares Dee-1 proudly from the hood of his 1998 Honda. He brags about using his insurance check after an accident to ‘go on long vacations/stack up my savings’, which is downright baller. Instead of spending his check on a new car (aka a depreciating, money pit of an asset), Dee uses his money to invest in himself. Plus, he doesn’t care what other people say about his car. Our own J$ went eight years with no car note, using that insurance money like a baller, so we really appreciate Dee-1 highlighting that car-note free lifestyle.
#6. “My mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
Another classic, this song has one of the most most used phrases in hip hop history. The G-Funk hook to this song goes ‘My mind on my money and my money on my mind.’ A simple, but essential money lesson for everyone.
Money needs to be paid attention to. You have to watch your budget, check in on your investments, and check your credit report. Money mistakes happen all the time. I know, I’ve gotten false charges on my credit cards. By keeping your mind on your money, you’ll grow your money.
#7. “Save dat money!”
This one really speaks for itself. Lil Dicky is every personal finance blogger ever when he lists the ways that he saves money. Netflix login from his cousin Greg. Wearing the same pair of pants every day. Buying generic. The song is a laundry lists of ways to save money.
My favorite part is that Lil Dicky shot the video for free. He just walked around and asked rich people if he could use their homes, cars, and boats to shoot this thing. Considering Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco spent $1,000,000 to make Touch the Sky, a free music video is pretty epic.
#8. “Finish paying Sallie Mae back!”
Dee-1 has so many money lessons he makes the list twice! A song that speaks to people of all ages, races, and income levels. Student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion in the US (which Dee-1 acknowledges at the start of the video). That’s a lot of people who have to pay Sallie Mae back. Dee-1 paid back his student loans after he signed his record deal. What better money lesson is there? Pay off student loan debt ASAP. Then, celebrate!
#9. “I got my own account and my bills in large amount.”
The Queen of Hip Hop in the late 90s and early 2000s, Missy Elliot is a legend. In this song she gives a little reminder to us all, but especially ladies: have your own money. It’s cool if your partner has some too, but own your own money. ‘It wasn’t your money that had me all sprung out (sprung out! sprung out sprung out)/Cause I got my own account and my bills in large amount.’
Missy reminds us all to be independent with our money. Stack it up, and don’t depend on anyone else to take care of you. I love to see ladies killing it and Missy certainly does.
#10. No one else will bring my wealth.”
All rappers are entrepreneurs. They take a chance on themselves, build their discography, their fan bases, and many of them front the costs for producing their first mixtape or EP. Big Daddy Kane knows that being your own boss is the best way to make and control your money.
‘Control what I hold and of course be the boss of myself, no one else will bring my wealth.’ Big Daddy Kane is echoing the advice of many bloggers and business owners. Can I Retire Yet says that starting his own business was his start on the way to wealth. Forbes 2016 list of billionaires is full of entrepreneurs. Make real money; be your own boss.
#11. “Ain’t gotta rely on top 40.”
This song is sort of my own personal anthem. When two stars as big as Nicki and Beyonce get together, how can you not love it? Plus Nicki gives us a little advice in the fourth verse. ‘I’m still gettin plaques from my records that’s urban/Ain’t gotta rely on top 40/I am a rap legend, just go ask the kings of rap/Who is the Queen and things of that/Nature.’
Diversify your income. Nicki has done this beautifully in her music and her branding. People talk about ‘Mixtape Nicki’ aka her ‘urban records’ and ‘Pop Nicki’ aka her top forty hits. She hits both sides of the hip hop audience She’s also got a clothing line, hair products, fragrances and a wine product. The woman is a brand (as she says on another song, I Am Your Leader.)
I think I read that same advice on Mr. Money Mustache. Kendrick knows of what he speaks!
Whew, that was a lot of financial lessons coming straight at you!
In truth, what I really love about all these artists is that so many of them have used their wealth for great causes.
Missy Elliot teamed up with other lady rock stars like Kelly Clarkson and Michelle Obama to record a song called This is For My Girls. The song is the anthem for Michelle Obama’s ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative, which helps get girls into schools. Currently there are 62 million girls around the world who are not in school. All proceeds from the song go to providing education to these girls.
Snoop Dogg founded a community gardens program in Jamaica. The program, called Mind Gardens, provides organic vegetables to communities that would otherwise struggle to find fresh food. This year for Thanksgiving he also sponsored an event where he and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts gave out more than 3,000 Thanksgiving meals to low-income city residents.
Dee-1 recently launched a contest on his Instagram page to help followers pay back their Sallie Mae loans. He offered five different people the chance to win $10,000 for debt payoff. “It feels so good, so good to pay off your student loans,” Dee-1 explains, “and I want everyone to feel that feeling.” AMEN Dee-1, paying back my loans was one of the best feelings of my life!
Between hip hop and personal finance blogs, you’re basically getting a degree in finance! Next time your favorite rapper comes on the radio, listen for the finance gems they’re dropping.
Kara Perez is a freelance writer and the founder of bravely. bravely aims to connect women and money through financial literacy events and education. You can find Kara on Twitter, Instagram or at www.bravelygo.co