The Rap Guide to Business

by Baba Brinkman

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about

Commissioned by the NYU Stern School of Business

Feature article in MacLean's Magazine:
www2.macleans.ca/2011/11/09/the-baba-brinkman-project/

Hustlers, gangsters, entrepreneurs, hip-hop music and business acumen combine in this 80's-inspired tour of the corporate world. Written as a satirical business plan for Baba Brinkman's ambitious Rap Guide enterprise, this album explores market economics, the intangibles of human capital, strategies for success, and corporate responsibility.

The views expressed here are not necessarily the views of the Stern School of Business.

credits

released September 30, 2011

All tracks produced, mixed, and mastered by Mr. Simmonds
www.mrsimmondsmusic.com

All lyrics written and performed by Baba Brinkman
www.bababrinkman.com

Additional Vocals by Jennifer Hamady
www.jenniferhamady.com

Album cover art by Noel Planet
www.noelplanet.com

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Canadian hip-hop with an intellectual bent, nothing but sexy beats and sumptuous brain food.

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Track Name: Textbook
Textbook

Is there any place in business for an honest person?
This is De La Soul, the entrepreneur’s version
Rap music has a problem, it’s all so controversial
But I got products and services customers wanna purchase
So I can’t stop the hustle, shout outs to Russell
Simmons – either rap is a business, or it’s not successful
You gots to buckle down, Warren Buffet style
That’s how you get your people out the struggle
I’ve been trainin’ myself, I’m shameless as hell
With self-promotion, ‘cause I’ve got some shit I’m aimin’ to sell
I make rap music that’s as entertaining as hell
But it’s packed full of facts and information as well
That’s why my stock is rising – it’s not surprising
It’s the information age, storage costs are diving
But when it comes to analyzing data, the market’s thriving
This is a rap guide to what’s on the horizon

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I don’t compete with Jay-Z ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I’m no threat to 50 Cent ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook

The idea came to me when I was takin’ a crap
I could make a career out of informational rap
Instead of boastin’ and braggin’ I could base it in fact
That was ten years ago, now check the place where I’m at
I’m the chief executive of Rap Guide Incorporated
Global dominance in the field of educational rap
Plus platinum plaques, and estimated
Future revenues of… well, seventy or eighty
Million, at first it was stops and starts
But now it’s all Rap Guide music that tops the charts
Conscious rap – that’s hip-hop with smarts
So I wanna try to explain how I got this far
With the plaque on the desk – it’s about managing risk
And adaptin’ to fresh circumstances, and yes
Sometimes havin’ to stretch the facts a lil bit
You gotta fake it ‘til you make it on the path to success

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I don’t compete with Ludacris ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I’m no threat to Eminem ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook

It’s like one of those “CEO Survey” type initiatives
“We need some insight for young executives
Please, teach us how to drink blood and stay competitive!”
Those reports are like a fuckin’ sedative
I’m here to synthesize information into basic packets
‘Cause young peoples’ minds today... way distracted
Business leaders need to take evasive action
Before their contracting niche in the marketplace collapses
‘Cause in the rat race only change is constant
And the main commodity is information content
You gotta separate the signal from the noise and the blatant nonsense
And modern workers want a playful office
So get some X-Boxes – it’s simple economics
If you give people what they want, it leads to profits
Business has to stay creative, and keep evolving
The Rap Guide can teach you how – believe the promise

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I don’t compete with Asher Roth ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook

Step to the stage with your best foot
Hit the competition with a left hook
I’m no threat to Justin Bieber ‘cause I’m less hood
I compete with a textbook
Track Name: Walk Like An Amoeba
Walk Like An Amoeba

How the hell did I go from a nerdy white
Suburban guy with a couple words that rhyme
To a millionaire, platinum certified?
I can tell you in a word: I diversified
That’s the only way to keep entrepreneurs alive
Stick your fingers in twenty-five or thirty pies
And then when the returns arrive, you fertilize
The best ones and just let the worst ones die
I’m talkin’ about business initiatives
Not individuals, there are some critical differences
Who’s gonna sponsor insolvent businesses?
The government? Only if they’re sellin’ derivatives
But for the rest of us, tryin’ to create benefits
For customers, instead of just bein’ acquisitive
Diversification is the best preventative
Against over-exposure, so risk is limited

Walk like an amoeba
Throw off lots of little feelers
And see which ones’ll feed ya baby

Walk like an amoeba
Throw off lots of little feelers
And see which ones’ll feed ya

Go get it, go get it, go get it
Go get it, you want it? Go get it

Okay everybody, ready for a case study?
Rap Guide Incorporated, we make money
By collaborating with… pretty much anybody
So our business relationships stay slutty
We’ve got the Rap Guide to Evolution, Business
Chemistry, Geology, Law, Statistics
Cosmology… Quantum Physics
We pretty much got a locked on the academics
But that’s just the entrance; we have Rap Guides
To all of your favorite hobbies and pastimes
From flying kites to fly fishing – we franchise
We even have a Rap Guide to writing Rap Guides
That’s how our business model gets sold
We only centralize quality control
Synthesizing all knowledge into flows
That’s our motto, plus our modest goal

Walk like an amoeba
Throw off lots of little feelers
And see which ones’ll feed ya baby

Walk like an amoeba
Throw off lots of little feelers
And see which ones’ll feed ya

Go get it, go get it, go get it
Go get it, you want it? Go get it

So what does it mean to walk like an amoeba?
Don’t you need a vision to be a business leader?
And don’t those amoebas move with little feelers
‘Cause they ain’t got no eyes they can see with?
That’s right, but your eyes will deceive ya
No one saw the credit crisis comin’ either
When it comes to gains, people are safe creatures
But when it comes to losses, risk-seekers
Humans are not Econs, that’s wrong
Classical economists have been hittin’ the bong
Cognitive biases are mad strong
Otherwise, you wouldn’t have black swans
Economics is the modern astrology
With crystal balls to predict the economy
And expert advice is like hittin’ the lottery
You gotta be like an amoeba if you wanna lead

Walk like an amoeba
Throw off lots of little feelers
And see which ones’ll feed ya baby

Walk like an amoeba
Track Name: Nuts and Bolts
Nuts and Bolts

Number crunching, staring at a spreadsheet
Data entry, coffee break, that’ll tempt me
Diuretic, hit the bathroom, bladder empty
Then it’s back to my back-shattering seat
All work, no play, got bent vertebrae
From sittin’ strapped in one place for thirty days
Like a penguin – “quack” – not like a bird of prey
We’ll be right back, after this commercial break
Entrepreneur’s fate, gotta pay the bills
Haven’t smoked weed in years, life is way too real
Another admin day, what a waste of skills
But I can’t sit still, I’m afraid to chill
Pushin’ this cart up hill, I’m Blade Running
Can’t stay in one place, it’ll get away from me
I might coast for ten minutes, maybe twenty
But gravity brings me back, gotta make money

These are the fruits of my labours produced
In the slavin’ away I do day by day
These are the moves that I make and the rules
That I play by, when I ply my trade

The only videos I make are instructional
Peace to Shad K, I’m mad functional
That’s the nature of industry, nuts and bolts
Bullshit committees and tax deductibles
I’m like “fuck your rules” whose rules anyway?
You gotta be a masochist to get an MBA
You gotta be in love with boredom, and pain
Ain’t no original ideas in a pencil case
What a waste of talent, fuck a bank balance
I mean, it’s great, but why chase it if it ain’t a challenge?
Find the space to engage your native passions
In every imaginable way – you gotta make it happen
And when it ends in crushing disappointment
Use that to advance by making different choices
Or else by listening to different voices
Failure is all but assured, you gotta pick your poison

These are the fruits of my labours produced
In the slavin’ away I do day by day
These are the moves that I make and the rules
That I play by, when I ply my trade

This isn’t pessimistic, it’s just descriptive
There’s lots of ways to let the debt collectors getchya
And not so many paths to a successful business
There’s no certain formula to get the riches
The visionary perspective isn’t very effective
When it comes to calculating the yearly interest
On all the various debts you’re carrying from initiatives
That failed to achieve their revolutionary objectives
This is serious business, you gotta dot your i’s
You gotta cross your t’s and watch your bottom line
Keep your money on your mind, and stay on your grind
You gotta crawl sometimes before your star can rise
Just try to fail constructively, trust me
Some days you’re gonna hate your company
The vision doesn’t take you to a place of luxury
It just sustains you while you face the daily drudgery

These are the fruits of my labours produced
In the slavin’ away I do day by day
These are the moves that I make and the rules
That I play by, when I ply my trade
Track Name: Human Capital
Human Capital

I been on my grind, building up my company
Rap guide on the rise, somethin’ to see
Just like every business, it started with a vision
But winnin’ the competition wasn’t just a solo mission
No, I had schemes and revenue streams
But to achieve great things you need a dream team
So, I recruited England’s sickest producer
Mr. Simmonds with the illest skills on a computer
We made some rap guides, reduced the nonsense
In the content, it was just proof of concept
Pretty soon we had a long back-catalogue
With the orders comin’ in, just a mad backlog
Time to get some fresh blood, tap the talent pool
A bunch of young rappin’ brainiacs with attitude
A business has to feel like a family group
It’s only worth as much as its human capital

Human capital, it’s tough to quantify
But without it your business will not survive
Human capital, it’s tough to quantify
You gotta offer people more than just a nine to five

How did I get to be the master of this industry?
Mr. Infomatic? Happiness delivery
You gotta spread love, the top is a lonely place
Peace to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
Forget the old way, where the realm of business
Was synonymous with the realm of narrow self-interest
We need to reach consensus, breach defenses
And seek the best of each employees’ unique perspective
That’s a corporate policy that’s worth acknowledging
It’s something we’ve been polishing since before the Holocene
Humans are social primates with tribal roots
We thrive in groups to survive and reproduce
Which means gossip and reputation maintain
The invisible fabric of status in the blame game
And the praise game, two sides of the same thing
Just ask Bernie Madoff if he wants a name change

It’s human capital, it’s tough to quantify
But without it your business will not survive
Human capital, it’s tough to quantify
You gotta offer people more than just a nine to five

Whatever industry you’re in, whatever occupation
You need to learn about the science of cooperation
Don’t let the insights of evolution evade you
Especially human behavior, including consumer behavior
Reciprocal exchanges are the most typical arrangements
But individual differences change things
The division of labor needs to be delegated
Internally, within firms, not in the yellow pages
Interns get promoted when they begin to earn
And then recruit their own interns, in turn
While the free market chooses between firms
Usually, some banks get bankruptcy insurance
That’s crazy, that’s when the state needs to regulate hard
That is, unless you want grenades in K-Mart
Fair play starts with the question: who’s interested?
Citizens, families, employees, businesses

That’s human capital, it’s tough to quantify
But without it your business will not survive
Human capital, it’s tough to quantify
You gotta offer people more than just a nine to five
Track Name: Switch Lanes
Switch Lanes

To some people rap is just a lot of manure
Others say the planet’s sick and hip-hop is the cure
Some people say commercial rap isn’t pure
But to me every rapper is an entrepreneur
You wanna make a difference? You wanna to make a living?
You wanna teach the children? You wanna make a million?
Either way, you gotta find a way to get their attention
And if you don’t then no one’s gonna listen
I know a few anti-capitalist rappers
Whose activism consists of selling anti-capitalist
Raps to their fans in fancy little packages
While ranting about how rap is cash-obsessed
Try to not give yourself an aneurism
Or get your panties twisted, just ‘cause your angst-ridden
Anti-business existentialism
Is just a strategy to get more fans to listen

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I keep from goin' under

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I feed my growin’ hunger

You’re gonna make a lotta mistakes
It’s okay, you take a hit, you switch lanes
Competition is extreme
To get ahead you gotta switch

Every record gets the fans it deserves
Hip-hop is a business first
You wanna make a difference? Word
Then go find yourself some customers
A couple artists will hate this for sure
And say “success is just a curse”
Sour grapes get squished to syrup
C’mon, don’t shoot the messenger
Hip-hop started in the streets
And then it spawned a whole industry
Sorry if I’m bein’ indiscrete
But I’m in it for the spinach and it isn’t just me
So if your songs are interest-free
Then I doubt they’re gonna interest me
Integrity makes you poor? Interesting…
I pay for things that impress me

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I keep from goin' under

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I feed my growin’ hunger

You’re gonna make a lotta mistakes
It’s okay, you take a hit, you switch lanes
Competition is extreme
To get ahead you gotta switch

Rappers are crabs in a bucket, just ask ‘em
They’re stuck with a tiny fanbase that happens to love it
But they can’t expand it without angering someone
I couldn’t handle that, man, I had to do somethin’
Here’s a business plan for you: self-promote
And grab onto some driftwood to help you float
And when you got enough, built yourself a boat
And fill it with like-minded folks to help you row
You got two choices, you do it yourself
Or you find somebody else with a use for your skills
You take the red pill or blue pill
Most businesses do fail, but you don’t think you will?
I’m not tryin’ to say you ain’t different
But it takes creativity to change directions real quick
And go where the competition ain’t headed
So if you get stuck in a single lane, switch it

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I keep from goin' under

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
How I feed my growin’ hunger

You’re gonna make a lotta mistakes
It’s okay, you take a hit, you switch lanes
Competition is extreme
To get ahead you gotta switch
Track Name: Vacuums
Vacuums

Yeah, this goes out to everyone with “rotism”
That’s “rich person autism”
I would say you know who you are…
But that’s a tough one to self-diagnose

Business breeds the most impressive villains
Newscorp, Murdoch, Enron, Jeffrey Skilling
They made the mistake of takin’ survival of the fittest
As a guide for business instead of a fact that’s scientific
Anything goes right? There’s no vice
In pursuit of profits, race to the bottom baby, hold tight
It’s a roller coaster ride, fuck a safety check
I’ll save the cost and take a lawsuit if you break your neck
I can calculate the risk as a function
Of several different assumptions, a mix of evidence and hunches
You sons of bitches with your lack of compunctions
You wonder why people get mad and laugh at your comeuppance?
Why abuses get hurled at News of the World
‘Cause they hacked the phones of kidnap victims, cute little girls
And pollute the mental atmosphere with misinformation
About global warming, and fuckin’ traffic in fear?
I can’t say if Murdoch should be on trial even
That’s for the courts to call, but that’s corporate malfeasance
I want personal repercussions, pies in the face
Boycotts, public inquiries, infamy in cyberspace
Here’s my advice to future corporate giants
Avoid the reputation of an extortionate tyrant
Watch your triple bottom line, social and environmental
This is the voice public outrage – I am vengeful

See that space? That’s a niche to adapt to
Nature hates waste, and hates vacuums
We make trades, from streets to backrooms
Business hates waste, and hates vacuums

Living space degrades; we breathe mad fumes
Neighbours create waste, and hate to vacuum
They’ll clean up their act, if we make ‘em have to
Roommates create waste and hate to vacuum

A business is a cost externalizing machine
It has to be losing money if the environment is clean
And obviously it’s got some politicians bought off
So what’s gonna stop corporate greed if not laws?
Not that greed itself is wrong, just the kind of greed
That tries to feed itself by dumping on someone else’s lawn
C’mon, the free market’s great for innovation
This is not socialism; it’s a pro-business statement
The question is how to reconcile it with the common good
Either legislatively, or in the style of Robin Hood
I’m talkin’ about the human instinct for justice
Which simply predicts some businesses will get interrupted
Business leaders need to make predictive judgments
Either learn to use a vacuum, or live with limited suction
Business hates vacuums, like nature, it’s opportunist
But it also hates vacuuming, like college students
So how do pollution and profits get put in opposition?
Either with laws, or else with ostracism
Appeals to conscience just don’t work, you gotta banish
No business opportunities left on a dead planet
If you really trust the market and its power to adapt
Then I guess it could adapt to a new environmental act
Or fuck it, treat the world like it’s endlessly bountiful
And find out the hard way whether you get held accountable

See that space? That’s a niche to adapt to
Nature hates waste, and hates vacuums
We make trades, from streets to backrooms
Business hates waste, and hates vacuums

Living space degrades; we breathe mad fumes
Neighbours create waste, and hate to vacuum
They’ll clean up their act, if we make ‘em have to
Roommates create waste and hate to vacuum

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