In” The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop ,” columnist Dan Charnas marks how rap stretched from its blur springs in the ghettos of 1970 s New York to its culmination as the world’s predominant youth pop culture and a multibillion-dollar industry.
The event that epitomized just how far hip-hop had come was the headline-grabbing partnership between the rapper 50 Cent and the upstart liquid company Glaceau, the maker of VitaminWater. It may well have been the biggest deal in hip-hop history, spurring 50 Cent’s personal net worth toward a half-billion dollars.
In this excerpt, Charnas outlines how it happened.
By the summer of 2003, 50 Cent’s debut book,” Get Rich or Die Tryin ‘,” had sold more than 5 million photocopies, and he was readily on his lane to becoming a multimillionaire on these sales alone.
Nonetheless, the rapper from Queens, who was born Curtis Jackson and had begun his busines on the honour of being fire nine times( a missile was still lodged in his tongue ), wasn’t material to remain a recording artist.
His young manager, Chris Lighty, himself a Bronx street baby turned merchant, was well-positioned to exploit 50′ s stardom by creating multiple income series. Lighty had come out of the Def Jam fold and organized such stars as Missy Elliott and LL Cool J.
With Lighty, 50 Cent organized the “G-Unit” symbol, including a record company, a robe companionship, and a sneaker deal with Reebok’s RBK line. The G-Unit Clothing Company was a joint-venture deal, with hip-hop-influenced decorator Marc Ecko fronting the money, handling the manufacturing and distribution, and splitting the profits fifty-fifty with 50.
At his Violator management company( mentioned after a bumpy gang that Lighty rolled with as a kid ), Lighty cured pioneer the purpose of applying 900 amounts for his artists.
Over a decade last-minute, he negotiated a different kind of phone deal: 50 Cent cellular ringtones to be sold for up to $ 2.99 per download. Lighty inked other agreements, very: a video game and a biopic with MTV Films and Paramount Illustration. When relevant agencies that represented Lighty, CAA, balked at representing a rapper so closely associated with violence, Lighty assured a deal with an interested William Morris.
One of Lighty’s business relationships was Rohan Oza, a marketing executive who has just moved from Coca-Cola to a small Queens, N.Y ., liquid firm announced Glaceau. Oza considered himself not a firebrand administrator, but a label messiah. He believed that passionate proselytizing of his products could transcend costly corporate ad campaigns.
Oza’s Vitamin Water brand was doing well at more than $ 100 million in marketings, second only to Pepsi’s Propel brand in the $245 million “enhanced-water” marketplace. He known how make them out.
Stealing a page from the hip-hop street-team and word-of-mouth ethos, Oza appointed a sail of 10 ” Glaceau Vitamin Water Tasting Vehicles ,” staffed by 200 “hydrologists,” to cross the country and spread the truth of Vitamin Water’s growing front. But hydrologists working one-on-one with consumers wouldn’t break Vitamin Water out of the gourmet-deli and new-age-health-food market.
Oza needed more than brand messiahs to alter men. He needed label diplomats to influence millions. That’s when Oza attended a commercial-grade for RBK sneakers in which Lighty, preferably sneakily, had his artist, 50 Cent, chug a bottle of Vitamin Water.
In a phone call soon thereafter, Lighty told Oza that he wanted to find a way to work together to procreate Vitamin Water huge. It turned out that 50 Cent had a true love of the product. He had grown up around alcoholics, so he didn’t booze. Instead, he spent hours a day working out and munch health. Like Oza who got bored with imbibe the recommended eight glasses of plateau liquid a date, 50 had seen Vitamin Water a more pleasant space to hydrate.
On Oza’s desk in his New York part, at that very moment, was a test bottle of a new Vitamin Water flavor, recently formulated by Glaceau’s head of product development, Carol Dollard, who had worked hard to get more vitamins and nutrients into their boozes- much more than the 2 to 3 percent of the recommended daily subsidy in other ” heightened” waters.
Recently, Oza had asked Dollard for a produce that would make it easy to spotlight this difference. “Shes had” returned with a flavor that contained 50 percent of the RDA of seven different vitamins and minerals. Oza’s selling unit responded with a great name for the new hodgepodge: Formula 50.
What better practice to collaborate, Oza hinted, than to have 50 Cent endorse this new product? But Lighty didn’t want an blurb lot. He didn’t want cash.” We want to invest ,” Lighty said.
By 2004, 50 Cent was undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest dad whizs. But it took some amount of convincing on Oza’s part to overcome the fear of Glaceau CEO Darius Bikoff and chairman Mike Repole. 50 Cent’s association with gunplay presented a number of problems: What if their director spokesperson ended up dead in a rap beef?
But the 50 Cent who showed up for his first meeting with Bikoff was surprisingly different from the rapper’s public image: pacify, respectful and deliberate, without too many flamboyant flourishes. Lighty was the rapper’s perfect business complement.
In the weeks and months subsequently, Lighty and Oza hammered out the terms of a lot. 50 Cent would take a stake in the privately owned company, one that they are able to graduate over season and escalate if the company made particular numbers.
The two entities- 50 Cent on one hand and Glaceau on the other- signed an agreement of reciprocal confidentiality. Still, term got around that Lighty had negotiated something close to, but not more than, 10 percent of the value of the company. During these discussions, Lighty and 50 deliberated the specific characteristics of their new product. Oza presented the pair with several flavor options for Formula 50. For Chris Lighty, the choice was simple.
Despite the high-minded science of Glaceau, their concoction was basically a smarter, more upscale, more aspirational copy of the ultimate ghetto beverage on which Lighty and 50 had grown up: the “quarter-waters” sold under every bodega, deli and convenience store from Queens to Compton.
The quarter-waters( so specified since they were once expense 25 cents) were just like the Kool-Aid everybody drank at home. However , nobody drink mad flavors like strawberry and kiwi in the’ bonnet, because they drank grape. Formula 50 had to be grape. Oza hated the comparison to such locate liquors, but he had to admire the thought process of his new partners.
The 50 Cent-Vitamin Water batch was announced in October 2004. Behind the scenes, the relationship between the two parties wasn’t always smooth. When Lighty, in one of his first interrogations about the administer, spoke of building the brand with the ultimate goal of selling it, Darius Bikoff phoned Lighty, screaming at him for disclosing the strategy. Within the next few hours, Bikoff looked up to find a indignant Lighty in its term of office, glowering at him. Lighty had driven from Manhattan to Queens to tell Bikoff one thing.” Don’t curse at me ,” Lighty said, a heartbeat away from becoming a Violator once more.
Once they understood one another, Bikoff and Lighty, Vitamin Water and 50 Cent built a strong alliance. Soon billboards and bus stops across the country related the images and participated the fates of two upstarts from Queens- one a scrappy, new-age beverage company; the other a petulant, provoking rapper with an attention for opportunity and a autobiography of hitching himself to winners.
In March 2007, Chris Lighty and his friend Sean Combs were travelling together from Heathrow airport to a London hotel in the back of a Maybach when Combs got some news over the phone. Fellow rap superstar Jay-Z and his two fashion-entrepreneur spouses, Alex Bize and Norton Cher, had just sold the rights to their Rocawear trademark to a public busines, the Iconix Brand Group.
Lighty could not stop duplicate the digit he examined, as he gazed at Combs in incredulity.” Two hundred million? Two hundred million ?” Actually, at $219 million, sales of the Rocawear brand name was, at the time, the biggest deal in hip-hop history. Combs responded in the only way he knew how.” I need a billion for mine ,” he huffed. But of those two men, it would be Lighty who contacted that figurative score first.
Just two month later, in May 2007, the Coca-Cola Company purchased Glaceau for $4.1 billion. In the media, initial reports threw 50 Cent’s cashout at $ 400 million, calculated by dividing the obtain sum by 50 Cent’s reputed 10 percent share. But in reality, 50 Cent’s take was much less. Another stakeholder needed to be paid off firstly- the diversified Indian conglomerate Tata had invested $677 million for 30 percent of Glaceau in 2006, and went $1.2 billion when Coca-Cola bought them out.
When all the other payments had been deducted, 50 Cent was thought to have walked away with a flesh somewhere between $60 million and $100 million, putting his net worth at almost a half billion dollars.
On his next album, 50 Cent could just contain his own incredulity at the influence of the dollar.” I made quarter-water, sold it in bottles for two horses ,” he rapped.” Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions. What the[ f #! k ]?” But Lighty mutely pocketed his 15 percentage and obstructed it moving.
Read more: addicted2success.com