On July 24, I found out that my newest album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. This isn’t my first time around the block, but it’s one of the most satisfying. I started as a hungry MC from QB, but now I am trying to give back to the hip hop community that made me. So as I stepped to the mic on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that night, wearing a special 12Society t-shirt that I designed, a pair of jeans, and some Timbs, I can say I was on top of the world.
More than ever, entertainment is about self-promotion — using the power of your fans through social media to market live shows and new business ventures and move a few records. The direct connection to the fans is not just freeing artists from the old corporate structure; it’s redefining the relationship between creator and audience.
When piracy hit the entertainment industry, artists were distraught and began distrusting their own fan bases. In truth, it was a response borne from confusion rather than logic. The passion the fans had for what we were creating never went away; we just had to evolve to survive in the new digital world.
A huge aspect of that evolution is offering a glimpse into your lifestyle — being more accessible. The power that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram offer is immense. Being an artist today is not only about being creative in what you produce, but finding creative ways to show people what you’re doing. Artists everywhere took notice when Louis C.K. sold his stand-up special and show tickets without a network backing him on the promotion and distribution. That truly was innovation at its best.
To me, that’s inspirational. That’s bringing things full circle and is the kind of independent triumph that will allow artists to create freely and reap the full benefit of their craft.
It is this same type of innovation that has defined and revolutionized the landscape of Silicon Valley, especially within the confines of e-commerce. 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.
We now live in a world where, instead of subscribing to a GQ or Vogue to read about what’s new, everyday people can substitute this reading for experiencing, and have goods delivered to them based on their likes and personality. It’s style-made-easy, and will change the way we shop forever. Companies like Five Four Club and Trunk Club are taking the difficulty out of discovery by making personal styling a painless and fun exercise in exploration, expertise, and a bit of surprise.
I started 12Society in June with the hopes of bringing this generation the new wave of commerce. Providing my fans with access to products, brands, and technology that they haven’t seen before. Increased accessibility and visibility has always been the future, and finally, that time is now.