While we all champion Chance the Rapper for his independent efforts in the music industry (as we should), some tend to forget one of the OG’s in the indie scene, Nipsey Hussle.
Making his way in the game in 2008, The LA rapper first got some attention in 2010 for his sequel mixtapes The Marathon and The Marathon Continues, released under his independent label, All Money In.
Following the positive reaction from his previous works, Nipsey Hussle had created a cult fan base for himself in the underground rap scene. He identified an opportunity to develop a new strategy to market and sell his 2013 mixtape Crenshaw.
Nipsey notoriously priced Crenshaw, at $100 a copy, releasing only 1,000 physical CD’s during a Pop Up shop in LA. The mixtape was also available for free download, but the ones who dropped 100 bucks would receive backstage passes, merchandise, and other one of a kind products.
In under 24 hours, the mixtape sold out and made $100,000 in profit. Jay-Z recognized Nipsey’s bold approach and ‘paid respect’ by purchasing 100 copies. Subsequently, Nipsey then took it even further with his next project Mailbox Money, selling 60 copies at $1,000 each.
An independent artist taking full ownership for his work.
While consistently releasing well-received projects over the years, the innovative entrepreneur expanded his brand in June 2017, by opening the world's first smart store, The Marathon Clothing Store in LA.
The ‘First Smart Store’. A concept that came about when Nipsey serendipitously met then 19 year-old inventor/entrepreneur Iddris Sandu, in a Starbucks in LA. What Nipsey later found out, was that the young man he was speaking to was a tech-genius who had been working on developing Artificial Intelligence with the likes of Uber, and even former President, Barack Obama.
The pair partnered up in the summer of 2017, to effectively create the world's ‘first smart store’. Nipsey’s innovative DNA, and Sandu’s programming genius combined, led to the fruition of a clothing store integrating culture and technology in one experience. Sandu describes the store as:
“A living breathing expression of our now, our influence in culture and our proposal into technology as taste-makers.”
The flagship store located in Nipsey’s hood in Slauson, LA, will sell all types of clothing, accessories and merchandise, but Sandu's creative element of technology was introduced to curate an exclusive experience for the consumer. By downloading an app, customers are able to receive special features and content when purchasing an item at the store. The content includes unreleased music, videos, cover art, and original handwritten verses, amongst other exclusive material. Nipsey explains the concept below;
“When you walk into the store, there’s going to be tags that are going to have content, so we’ll promote this certain shirt, and it’ll be a piece of content that’s programmed specifically to this shirt so that when the shirt drops, you get the shirt and a piece of content that’s not on iTunes or YouTube. You can’t consume it anywhere else.”
Before launching The Marathon Clothing Store, Nipsey uploaded one of the realest documentaries we’ve seen on what him and his team had to go through to open this store. Watch below;
After years of grinding in the indie scene, Nipsey’s All Money In and Atlantic Records signed a ‘strategic deal’ in late 2017. Still retaining full ownership of his catalog, the artist explains his decision to join a major label as an opportunity for his message to have “the best chance to be heard and consumed on the highest level”.
The first release under this joint venture deal, will be Nipsey’s long awaited debut album Victory Lap. Make sure to check it out on 16/02/2018.
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