5 Hip-Hop Lyrics to Guide Your Marketing Strategy

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5 Hip-Hop Lyrics to Guide Your Marketing Strategy

Where does inspiration come from? For artists, it usually comes from other artists. There’d be no Pollock without Picasso, no Picasso without Goya, and so on. If you can accept that crafting a sublime marketing strategy is an art form (it is), then you can accept the influence of other artists as well. Namely, a few brash-natured hip-hop artists that highlight key marketing ideals with surprising clarity. After all, more than half of the reason for success in the music industry comes down to image. How can these titans of rhyme guide our marketing? Let’s take a look.

“I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars/

They criticized me for it, yet they all yell ‘holla’” -Jay Z

Know your audience, maximize your audience:

It’s no secret that Jay Z is a marketing genius. Recently, Beyonce released an album full of juicy tidbits about her husband’s cheating-- exclusively, on his streaming service Tidal. His use of industry contacts and mogul status to release exclusive content like Beyonce’s Lemonade has led to preliminary sales talks with Apple. Keep in mind that Tidal was the subject of negative press upon its launch, because it coincides with the main point of these lyrics.

There will always be critics, but if you know how to maximize your sales to the right audience, supporters will outnumber critics in no time. When Jay Z moved away from hard drug selling talk and into pop territory, he was criticized, but that calls to mind another Jay lyric-- “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” Every single Jay Z solo studio album has gone Platinum at the very least-- his album Vol 2… Hard Knock Life containing the eponymous pop smash hit went 5x Platinum… this is a man we can learn from.

Not everyone is going to like every product or promotion you release, but as long as you know what your largest, primary audience likes, you’ll always have supporters.

“I'm probably in the sky, flying with the fishes/

Or maybe in the ocean, swimming with the pigeons/

See my world is different.” -Lil Wayne

Perception is reality:

Lil Wayne is a king of abstractions. He ties together vivid imagery and metaphors to create distinct impressions in his songs. These literary maxims rarely go beyond braggadocios statements about wealth or the attractiveness of his female companions, but that’s what he’s known for, and kudos to him for maintaining the aesthetic for 20 years.  

These bars come from a popular mixtape track of Wayne’s, “The Sky is the Limit,” in which he details his position as the prodigal son of hip-hop. When you’re at the top of your game, you’re in the position to make the rules, even if they defy reality. Of course, no one will accept that your product can defy gravity, but it’s important to remember the powers of perception and positioning.

If you think carefully about the perception you want to put out for your product, you control the market. Examples in the branding world are abound. Lexuses (Lexi?) sell for far more than Toyotas despite being manufactured by the same company, and Scion is seen as car for young people, because Toyota wanted to market a car to young people. Apple computers with the same specs as PCs will sell for twice the cost. Perception is reality.

“I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven/

When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace.” -Kanye West

Differentiate short term and long term goals:

If you follow the maxim “Any press is good press,” then Kanye West may be the greatest marketer of our time. He certainly knows how to get the people talking, whether it’s praise and commendation, or more often than not, judgment and disapproval. In this lyric off his triumphant Graduation album, he juxtaposes spiritualism and materialism in one fell swoop.

As marketers, we can’t fall into the trap as Kanye-- valuing short-term returns over long term goals. At the same time, it’s important not to get entrenched in pie-in-the-sky ideals and keep a practical mindset. For example, engagement and reach may be fun metrics to rack up, but what are they building towards? Differentiate and plan out your short term and long term goals for continued success.

“Daaaaamn Daniel/

FBI keep bringing them all white vans through” -Jay Z

Stay topical but maintain originality:

Once more we turn to Hova, fittingly dubbed “the God MC,” hallowed be his name. In early 2016, Daniel Lara and his friend Josh Holtz went viral due to a video compilation of Holtz commenting on Lara’s attire with the same two phrases: “Damn Daniel,” and “Back at it again with the white Vans,” referring to his shoe choice.

Shortly afterwards, Jay Z dropped this scene stealing topical bar in Pusha T’s “Drug Dealers Anonymous,” a vivid portrayal of Pusha and Jay’s first “career.” Jay references the meme, which could come across as forced or cheesy, but he flips the reference so successfully into an image of paranoia that it stands on its own. Notice he only gives the video phenomenon one bar-- he doesn’t over do it, like many that try trend riding are wont to do.

If you’re looking to capitalize on a recent trend or internet sensation, by all means, go for it! Be sure that your content isn’t anything more than a playful reference and that it stands on its own, because forced marketing is the worst marketing.

“Wish you would learn to love people and use things, and not the other way around.” -Drake

Focus on the person not the product:

Drake knows how to market himself. It’s how he was able to rebrand from the sensitive “Heartbreak Drake,” to the bombastic “6God,” to the tune of double Platinum (and counting). This lyric from the Heartbreak Drake days contains a moderately clever criticism of one of Drake’s many lost loves. The sentiment holds true to marketing.

Imagine Credit Union A has a fantastic loan package-- low interest rates, long terms, the whole shebang. It should be selling like wildfire, but for some reason, Credit Union B is killing it with their “Summer Vacation Loan,” a loan with worse rates, but a better sales pitch.

Features are one thing, but people often need to see the benefits to believe. If you communicate that this loan deal will enable your members to send their kids to summer camp or take a romantic vacation getaway, the reality of those situations will carry further than numbers and rate sheets ever could.

If you’re in need of a marketing plan, or maybe just hot mixtape recommendations, contact The Pod Advertising for Blooming Creative solutions!