Salt-N-Pepa, Rapsody and Baby Tate Talk Entrepreneurship in Hip-Hop – The Hollywood Reporter
Feb 6, 2023
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Mastercard is sponsoring “She Run This,” a three-part panel series spotlighting Black female entrepreneurs and musicians. On Friday, Feb. 3, Mastercard’s vp of global sponsorships Laytoya Bennett-Johnson was joined by trailblazing rappers Salt-N-Pepa, emerging rapper Baby Tate, Grammy-nominated rapper Rapsody, entrepreneur Bridgid Coulter Cheadle and journalist Gia Peppers, who moderated the conversation.
The panelists were invited to speak about how they’ve built their brands, the ways in which entrepreneurship and creativity have impacted their businesses and musical careers, how they define success as women working in and around the entertainment industry and more.
“Before you step into this business you’ve got to know who you are and which lines you won’t cross,” Rapsody said to the group and guests. “When I was young and looking at what I thought was success — platinum plaques and sold-out arenas — [I later realized] those are materialistic things. When you can sit at home and look in the mirror and be at peace, [that’s success].”
Salt-N-Pepa shared stories about how they first formed as a group in the mid-1980s and the confidence it took to succeed as female emcees, along with some of the challenges they faced along the way and how faith got them through.
“Because I was so convinced in my mind that I was going to be able to make this happen, that’s what pushed me forward. It was when I got on the microphone and found my voice,” Cheryl ‘Salt’ James shared, adding, “Authenticity leads to longevity.”
“Coming up in hip-hop as female emcees in a male-dominated field, it was very hard for us knowing we were charting so hard — more than the male rappers — and still weren’t getting that respect or the acknowledgment that we deserved,” Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton said. “[But] I had my eyes on the prize from day one.”
Beginning Thursday, Feb. 2, and running through Saturday, Feb. 4, these discussions are being held at venues owned by Black women across Los Angeles. Last night’s event was hosted by Blackbird Collective, a global private membership collective of flexible work and wellness spaces centered on women of color. Headquartered in Culver City and founded by Cheadle, who is also an actress and interior designer, the space was a fitting setting for the evening’s festivities, which were punctuated by a surprise $5,000 gift to Blackbird from Mastercard. The founder spoke about how underresourced Black female entrepreneurs generally are, despite being the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.
“We do it with less, and we do better,” Cheadle said, adding: “In those quiet moments when you’re by yourself and you just are resonating with your truth and your authenticity, in those moments when you’re really scared but you keep acting in spite of, to me that is success.”
Baby Tate, who closed out the night with a post-panel performance, shared insights about challenges she faces in the music industry as a Black woman in particular, like body image and colorism, which her male peers don’t struggle with in the same way.
“It’s crazy that as women we have to be under such a microscope, like we can’t just exist as we are,” she said. “Why can’t I just say what I want to say? I have a message that I want to spread.”
The final installment in the series happens Saturday night and is about building Black wealth, moderated by Amanda Seales and featuring female rappers Yo-Yo and Coi Leray and entrepreneur Simone Smith as panelists.
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