An M.B.A in N.W.A….
Ever read an article equating N.W.A. to the perfect business model? Well, read on. I’m about to go there…
The movie Straight Outta Compton chronicles the story of the late 80s hip hop group N.W.A. It’s a fascinating story, and while perhaps not a hard core fan, I appreciate the trailblazing the group did for their genre. And yeah, while oft offensive, I must admit they do lay down some funky a$$ beats.
The movie has been on my must-watch list for quite some time, and I recently had an opportunity to catch it (obviously after the kids were in bed). While enthralled with the story and characters, I couldn’t help but come to this realization: that the three main contributors (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, & Eazy-E) personified the perfect business model. Each brought a unique and critical strength to the table which when combined, made them thrive.
THE PRODUCT Ice Cube was the talent, the product. Ice Cube did most of the group’s writing. Some of his songs became anthems for the growing gangsta rap genre and to this day stand the test of time of musical appeal and social relevance. And like any good business, it all starts with the product. You can market the heck out of something, but if it doesn’t stand out and stand up, no amount of sales and marketing with keep it at the top.
THE BRAND Eazy-E was the hook, he represented the brand. Put bluntly- for a product trying to represent The Hood, he was all Hood. He was positioned in front to speak directly to the audience that carried them in the early stages and ultimately became their signature calling card. As the movie portrays, he didn’t have the business mind, and he even had to be heavily coached to execute the product, but without even trying, he represented everything N.W.A. wanted to represent. And it resonated.
THE STRATEGY Dr. Dre was the producer, the business plan. He saw the big picture that it wasn’t just about the music, it was about how to position and sell – not just the group, but the movement. It was where the music fit in and how to strategically bring it there. Like any business or brand, without the right strategy or business plan, you’re more likely to be a flash-in-the-pan, then a generation-defining movement.
Product. Brand. Strategy.
Have a great product. Stand for something. Execute your place in the market.
Do those three things right, and you’ll be gettin your $100 Bills Y’all.