Chris Lighty and the Business of Hip-Hop

Chris Lighty has seen the world of hip-hop from all angles. Growing up during the Reagan era and surviving on food stamps, he had a hard knock life — a subject of many rap songs. He also witnessed hip-hop influence and consume others in his old neighborhood, Bronx, New York. Little did he know that his entire life would revolve around this culture, and the world of hip-hop would revolve around him.

Shortly after Run D.M.C. came to be the first rap or hip-hop group to have a spot on the Billboard Top Ten, Lighty entered the industry by doing odd jobs for hip-hop deejay Red Alert. He aspired to build a name for himself in the local scene, but he knew that he had to work his way up to get there. A couple of years later, his dedication paid off when he landed a post at Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen’s Rush Management. He learned everything about marketing and brand-building from the hip-hop leaders themselves.

Sean “P Diddy” Combs (by Richard Burdett)

With his knowledge set and connections in place, 50’s dollar man pursued his dream by building Violator Management and Records. Lighty is now among the industry’s most prominent talent managers. Over the years, he has represented high-profile artists such as LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, and Sean Combs.

Managing a portfolio of such high caliber artists has made Lighty one of the most powerful men in the music industry. But he didn’t stop there. He recently formed Brand Asset Group, a joint venture with Warner Music, which will introduce Lighty’s marketing formula to new acts.

Put together, Lighty’s empire is worth two hundred million dollars, including artists and deals with video games, fragrances, clothing lines, and beverages. He has been a force to reckon with in the music industry since the late 1980s, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

True enough; the world of hip-hop now revolves around him — thanks to his unyielding determination.


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