Business of Hip-Hop Brings New Conversation to Bloch School

Harvard fellow, sports and media professionals collaborate to discuss influence and impact of hip-hop with students

No longer business as usual, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Management continues to find new ways to educate and inspire students. Their latest move, the business of hip-hop. The music genre celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. What started with two turntables in a house party in the Bronx, is now a trillion-dollar industry.

The business of hip-hop is a collaborative effort among the Bloch School, UMKC Athletics and the UMKC Men of Color Academy (MoCa). More than 100 campuses worldwide teach courses on hip-hop culture and rap music; many of which speak to lucrative opportunities the genre brings across sports, fashion, food/beverage and the culture at large. 

“The goal was really for students to see the different avenues that they could go into when it comes to sports and music and how our culture intertwines into our careers,” said Elizabeth Montelongo (BA ’21), program coordinator of student services and recruitment at the Bloch school.

Montelongo led the charge coordinating this new event, bringing in C. Keith Harrison, Ed.D., business professor at the University of Central Florida, and Nasir Jones, Hiphop Fellow at Harvard University, as keynote speaker.

“Hip-hop has dramatically evolved over the last 50 plus years,” Harrison said. “We’re teaching students about the success and risk-taking of hip-hop culture.”

Harrison speaks extensively on the intersection of hip-hop and business, and how many are using it to their advantage. Over its 50-year history, hip-hop has been used to solve business, health and educational challenges that lead to important change and awareness in communities.

This event also included panelists with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. UMKC Alumna Shae Perry (B.A. ’19) who currently serves as morning host on Hot 103 Jamz in Kansas City, Felicia Martin senior vice president of inclusion education and community engagement at the NCAA, Jeff Porter, Ph.D., vice president of corporate partnerships at the Kansas City Current and Bryan Boots, Ph.D., managing director at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Together, this panel helped students navigate questions surrounding business opportunities in sports and music and how to inspire young people who interact with students through the Bloch Mentorship Program. The latter is something Harrison believes is achieved through good professional role models in these fields, not just artists and athletes.

“Seeing images of the successful humans in hip-hop and sports, in addition to and beyond rappers and athletes is key, especially black Americans and other folks of color,” Harrison said.

And while not everyone who dreams of life as a professional athlete or artist will make it, it’s important not to put out the spark in young people who aspire for more.

“Even though we can think a dream is unrealistic, it’s important not to clip anyone's wings and allow them to fly and be a support system to them,” Montelongo said.

The Business of Hip-Hop will return in the 2024-25 academic year, with hopes of bringing high school students to the conversation.

Published: Apr 1, 2024
Posted In: Student Life

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