The 9 Most Influential Hip Hop Artists In Tech
We’ve noticed a growing interest in rap music among the tech elite in the last couple of years.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, MC Hammer, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and SV Angel partner Ron Conway famously remixed MC Hammer’s “Too Legit To Quit” song in support of the tech-friendly, then San Francisco interim Mayor Ed Lee back in 2011.
Then there’s Rap Genius, a site that annotates rap lyrics, literature, and poetry. In 2012, prominent Silicon Valley firm Andreessen Horowitz invested in $15 million in the site.
A growing number of artists have created their own startups, invested in tech companies, and sometimes both. They’re working on startup staples like search, imaging, and wireless charging, as well as more esoteric projects like 3D concert apps and electronic cigarettes.
We ranked them by their Klout score, whch measures influence in social media.
Nas has an e-commerce startup that offers celebrity-endorsed goods.
Nas co-founded lifestyle brand 12Society along with basketball star Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Michael Strahan, Nick Cannon, and Tim Lincecum last year.
For $39 per month, you’ll receive a box full of anything ranging from headphones to clothing to accessories. Every item is hand-picked by 12Society’s team of celebrity founders.
“I truly believe we are at an incredible inflection point in the consumer retail experience: Just how Amazon and eBay opened the railways to a new universe of available products, and Groupon allowed for the discovery of local activities to become accessible and affordable, new resources are changing the entire game once again,” Nas wrote in a guest post on TechCrunch last September.
Klout score: 82
Dr. Dre is making sure you experience the best quality sound while listening to music.
T-Pain is bringing auto-tune to the masses.
William Wei, Business Insider
T-Pain has been involved in a couple of apps over the years. Last month, the rapper attended and supported the launch event for Gig It, a new Facebook game that lets people created virtual, 3D concerts.
There’s also the I Am T-Pain app by Smule that lets you create songs using auto-tune.
Fun fact: He has a pretty cool tattoo of Facebook’s “Like” symbol.
Klout score: 87
MC Hammer is tackling the search market.
MC Hammer has become somewhat of a staple in the tech industry. He co-created Internet dance site DanceJam, which has since come to an end. In 2011, he announced WireDoo, a search startup that has yet to come to fruition.
Hammer is also an investor in Square and social media advisor at Flipboard. SV Angel investor Ron Conway has even called Hammer a tech visionary.
Klout score: 87
Bruno Mars invested in high-tech cigarettes to promote healthier living.
Bruno Mars is a jack of all musical trades, dabbling in genres like pop, hip-hop, and R&B. Last week, Bruno Mars invested in electronic cigarette company NJOY.
Klout score: 90
Will.i.am wants to make iPhone photos a lot more fun.
Black Eyed Peas member and solo artist Will.i.am wants to make science and technology as appealing to young people as pop music.
Will.i.am has founded car company i.am.auto and foto.sosho, a case that turns your iPhone into a camera with photo filters. He was also an early investor Beats Electronics.
Klout score: 90
Jay Z reportedly has big ideas for mobile.
Jay Z’s RocNation is an investor in video sharing app Viddy, as well as private jet service BlackJet. Last year, Jay Z invested in Duracell Powermat, a wireless phone charging system, and serves as its spokesperson.
Klout score: 91
50 Cent wants to help you protect your eyes when staring at a computer all day.
Last year, rapper 50 Cent invested in advanced computer eyewear company Gunnar Optiks. Gunnar aims to help those who look at computer screens all day from straining their eyes. The device increases contrast, reduces glare, and enhances details on the screen.
50 Cent also has a line of headphones called “Sleek by 50,” which he unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2011.
Klout score: 91
Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, wants to help us look just like him.
Snoop Lion has been involved with two apps this year. Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated: Track Notes App launched in conjunction with Snoop’s new album to provide additional context for listeners. Snoopify, on the other hand, lets users add virtual stickers to photos of their friends. The idea is to make them look more like Snoop.
Other than creating his own apps, Snoop is also an early adopter of many tech products. He joined Twitter all the way back in 2008, joined Instagram in early 2011, hosted a “Puff Puff Pass Tuesdays” room on video service Chill, and seems to love Vine.
Klout score: 92