Hip-Hop: Billion-Dollar Biz

ByABC News
February 23, 2004, 12:10 PM

Feb. 24 -- When hip-hop began more than 20 years ago, corporate America ignored it. Big mistake.

It now generates more than $10 billion per year and has moved beyond its musical roots, transforming into a dominant and increasingly lucrative lifestyle.

Visionaries foresee hip-hop-inspired housewares, furniture, linens, food, writing instruments and even a special hip-hop DVD section at Best Buy. They see publicly traded hip-hop companies and even a hip-hop entrepreneur rivaling Ralph Lauren or Oprah Winfrey on our list of the World's Richest People.

Their works include Def Poetry on Broadway, The Steve Harvey Show and The Parkers on TV and the Tupac Shakur movie Gridlock'd. Its most recent venture is a nationally syndicated radio show, Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Laws of Success.

Carving Out an Industry

Hip-hop has grown well beyond the urban market since the genre's first hit, "Rapper's Delight," was released in 1979. SLMG says its customer base is the 45 million hip-hop consumers between the ages of 13 and 34, 80 percent of whom are white. According to SLMG's research, this group has $1 trillion in spending power.

The Russell Simmons' empire is well placed to garner a big chunk of that.