Queen Latifah and the Side Hustle

A few years ago after breaking onto the scene, Nicki Minaj underwent a noticeable change in appearance. Some even began to call refer to her ‘The Black Lady Gaga,” a moniker which Minaj hated. It was also nonsense because Gaga is constantly trying to enter the house that Grace Jones built and owns, but, whatever. Minaj’s music also went through a change as she opted for more poppy tunes. All of those colorful changes led to Minaj being the lone woman in the top 10 of Forbes Cash Kings of Hip Hop list. The list ranks the top earners in hip hop. Minaj ranked number four with an estimated $29 million in earnings. She is actually the only woman rapper to make the list since it was started in 2007.

For most hip-hop artist, their fortunes don’t end up like that of a Jay-Z or even a Soulja Boy. They may have a few hits but the business aspect, which is littered with politics, can be cruel and expensive, especially if you have the image of a rapper to maintain. Simply put, Minaj was capitalizing off of her marketability to mixed audiences. A very smart and a bit of a risky move too. She risked the possibility of alienating her core audience in favor of a larger one whose attention and tastes are quite fickle, mainstream. Luckily for her it paid off in a huge way. Looking at it solely from a financial and business aspect, you can’t blame Minaj for taking those risks. When you look back on how most women rappers have achieved great musical and creative successes but have all but been buried under the studio by the buying public, it’s definitely understandable why Minaj would get hers when the opportunity presented itself. She’s expanding her brand. Now, whether you agree with how she’s doing it is an entirely different story. Since the public seems to have this thing where there can only be one woman rapper at a time that holds supreme, it really is important for them to get it while the getting is good. Truthfully, it’s important for any artist of any gender or genre but don’t mess me up right now. Although Minaj is flexing her business acumen by inking deals with American Idol, Target, Opi and so forth she isn’t the first to stretch outside of the studio. Other women hip hop artists such as Yo-Yo, MC Lyte, and Eve have all ventured into other venues outside of music. But none have done it quite like the First Lady of Hip Hop, Queen Latifah.

Since Latifah first stepped on the scene in 1989 with her debut album All Hail the Queen she has constantly exuded a confidence that let everyone know that she was not to be played with or sidestepped. She has conquered music, movies, television and just all-around boss things. The Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award (2x), NAACP Image Award (2x) and Grammy Award winning, and Academy Award and Emmy nominated mogul is now the host of her own self-titled daytime television talk show and also helms her own production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment. She has several endorsement deals with companies such as Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She also has her own line of cosmetics for women of color with Cover Girl called the Cover Girl Queen Collection. In fact Flavor Unit is behind several films such as Beauty Shop (2005) and Just Wright (2010) and the television shows Single Ladies and Let’s Stay Together. Latifah is also trying to help other women get their voices out. The producer of the 2014 satire film Dear White People, Lena Waithe (watch for her), has a web series titled Twenties that Flavor Unit is shopping around. Oh yeah, she also officiated the weddings of 33 same sex couples during a live broadcast of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.

Hip Hop artists are personalities, for better or for worse. Some master the art of the music itself and some master the side hustle. Very few have mastered both. Latifah has become Queen of both.

Do you think that Queen Latifah gets the recognition she deserves?

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