“Be very serious, be focused. You got nothing to lose in this game by being consistent, and not just thinking you are going to get in and make 100 million dollars, cause that’s not going to happen. Make a career; I rather sell 10 million records over ten years than 10 million records once, it’s a business,” Chris Lighty.
For many Chris Lighty will be remembered as one of the most powerful figures in the hip hop business. A fundamental key player in transforming the rap game from being grimey to appealing to mainstream media, ushering in the era of white collared hip hop moguls.
Brokering some of the biggest deals in hip hop music with entities like Sprite and Coca Cola. The brain behind 50 cents’ energy drink which netted the rapper more than $400 million dollars and negotiating LL Cool J’s Gap endorsement back in 1999, which was one of the most genius case studies in hip hop to date. It was also momentous due to the fact that LL Cool J was the first rapper to ever be called on to endorse a mainstream apparel company.
LL Cool J:
“Jeans popping in every mall in town and city. G-A-P gritty, ready to go, for us, by us, on the low,” he rapped.
And that right there ya’ll was something sales and marketing experts like to call, ‘guerilla marketing 101.’ With the help of Chris Lighty, the hip hop icon was able to incorporate a little somethin somethin for his financial interests, on the sly…promoting all things, ‘FUBU.’
To be given the opportunity to endorse a company as big as Gap and then successfully add a smaller apparel name to the final product was straight, ‘gangsta.’ As you can see from the video above, LL Cool J also rocked a FUBU hat during his commercial spot.
Lighty also claimed to have been instrumental in hooking up Gee and his client Drake with a Sprite endorsement, saying, “Here’s a quick $850,000, let’s get busy baby.”
Chris Lighty’s focal point was to build rappers and their brands without sacrificing their connections to their hood.
During his career in the industry he founded Violator, a record label, management, and marketing company which represented Nas, 50 cent, Ja Rule, Mobb Deep, Missy Elliott, LL Cool J, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Mariah Carey to name a few.
The New York Times called him “one of the most powerful figures in the hip-hop business.”
According to Forbes, Lighty merged Violator with Primary Wave Talent Management to form Primary Violator Management last year, in a move that could have potentially brought even bigger deals.
The 44-year-old reportedly owed the IRS $5 million in taxes.
Despite the entrepreneur taking his own life, his portfolio is very impressive and his work speaks for itself. He leaves a legacy for his family, friends, fans and entrepreneurs alike. So as we ponder over his reasons of why he did what he did…let’s stop. Focus on what he left behind for the seasoned professionals as well as the up and coming entertainers/entrepreneurs that find themselves immersed in the music industry, an industry that many have sacrificed so much to be in. An industry that is built for the strong, not the weak or the naysayers.
Lighty had immeasurable impact on the music industry and has left a clear path to success for those that choose it. His platform makes it possible for a generation of entertainers to learn and flourish.
In a 2010 interview Lighty shared his thoughts on what it takes to make it in the music business and leaves us with an uncanny quote on the industry and his life….watch the video below.
“Be very serious, be focused. You got nothing to lose in this game by being consistent, and not just thinking you are going to get in and make 100 million dollars, cause that’s not going to happen. Make a career; I rather sell 10 million records over ten years than 10 million records once, it’s a business. Everybody fronting like the money is nonstop, it’s nonstop until it stops. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the game so, I plan to be here until I decide I don’t wanna be here know more,” Lighty said.
Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t doubt that, in recent years, Lighty did just that. Lighty made the rap game more beautiful and his family, friends, fans, colleagues, clients loved him for it. Lighty made the rap game more ideal, and the billions of us with no voice will be forever impacted.
EOTM! Online extends our condolences to the Lighty family, Violator Entertainment and all of Chris’ friends and associates. Leave your comments below.