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The Institute Of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship Is Here To Craft Your Hustle

The Institute Of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship Is Here To Craft Your Hustle

IHHE's Tayyib Smith & Meegan Denenberg Explain How They Groom Young Entrepreneurs To Craft Their Hustle & Empower Their Dreams.

IHHE's Tayyib Smith & Meegan Denenberg Explain How They Groom Young Entrepreneurs To Craft Their Hustle & Empower Their Dreams.

TS: That we have an almost equal split between men and women. Also, that our class is made up of people who have recognized needs in their respective communities and have a desire to service them. We’re in the platform economy; Google is a platform, Airbnb is a platform, Lyft is a platform. As the program evolves, I would like to find strategic partners that would enable us to scale to other cities. Mainly Detroit and Miami. On a larger scale, figuring out how we can scale the program to become an international platform and license the curriculum to schools and institutions that have the desire to teach people alternative or experiential learning.

MD: Since we heard the announcement that we won the Knight Cities grant — from then to now, I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. I hate to sound really trite about it, but it feels as if we’ve been planning this for a long time. To see the actualization of something that for so long was planning and conversation is sort of surreal. I also have to say that I’m so excited that we have this cohort of 24 young men and women. I was in on the interviews, I was reading all of their applications, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know them on paper and in person. I feel that they are a tremendous reflection of what we’re talking about. That there is brilliance and there’s smart thinking in the far corners of this country and these cities. Its really lovely to see that there might be this kind of way to have a lot of these men and women who have these hopes and these dreams and these ideas and brilliant concepts, who up until they heard about IHHE were maybe feeling a little stymied — maybe not knowing where to go or what to do or who to talk to — I think the fact that we can bridge that is the most exciting part. I think this cohort will work. If we can get it to happen again and again and maybe expand, I think it’ll be a really exciting way to help people who feel a bit marginalized begin to feel empowered.

OKP: Should entrepreneurship be another element of hip-hop culture?

TS: I think its always been there in the culture but we haven’t defined it. Too often I think we’re looking for props and not profits. Most people, whether they admit it to themselves or not, are looking for props. They will bring their crew, they will bring down their management company, they will bring down their label for more props — but maybe will turn down a more fruitful opportunity or offer if it takes a little more due diligence. If we can get down to the brass tacks of what is really improving the community versus what benefits someone individually, that will be a huge step. Music, in general, is a young person’s game. Having things that you can transition to and still use all of your skills and what you’ve learned from the culture to affect other things — business, economy, development — is ideal. I think that should be the new paradigm of hip-hop. Get in, get all your creative juices out, mature, then take that into politics, or technology, or into healthcare.

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OKP: Is the ability to provide this kind of forum empowering to you all at Little Giant?

MD: I think we feel empowered that people liked the idea enough at Knight to take a leap of faith and give us the grant. I think that makes us feel that this whole concept and message is starting to be a bit more on the cusp. I just like the fact that people are thinking this way and that Tayyib and I are not alone when we think about how important this is. When we know that cities are changing and we know that 60-70% of the population will be living in cities in the next several years, how do we get underrepresented members of the community to feel like they are a part of the professional ecosystem of their city or to feel like they are not going to be pushed out of someplace they have been living their entire life? It is really nice to know that other people are on the same page, we are creating around that, and we are moving together toward some very necessary and exciting conversation.

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