THE AFTERMATH THEORY

(aka the co-sign)

by Curtis Washington

Entrepreneurs and aspiring influencers… you can learn a lot about branding from music industry politics.

Specifically hip hop.

Even more specifically, Aftermath Records.

Now if you’re not familiar with Aftermath Records… go Wiki that shit. I’m not going to give you a history lesson today.

All you need to know is that it’s run by legendary producer Dr. Dre.

Now what I’m about to break down for you is a real life example of fame by association. If you’re smart, you’ll know where I’m going with this…

Perception is reality.

Dr. Dre started Aftermath after leaving Death Row Records and partnering with legendary music producer Jimmy Iovine.

Think about this… Jimmy Iovine was the co-founder of Interscope Records, one of the biggest record labels of our time.

This is important because even tho Dr. Dre had a multi-platinum album and a long list of production credits under his belt, he had no track record as a label owner.

But because of his association with Jimmy Iovine, he was able to position Aftermath Records as the top tier hip hop record label and create a fruitful partnership with Interscope Records (this relationship is also a key factor in the spawning of the Beats by Dre brand)

It doesn’t stop there tho.

Before Dre, who outside of Detroit gave a fuck about Marshall Mathers?

Nobody, that’s who.

It wasn’t until he was seen as Dr. Dre’s protege that we all noticed Slim Shady. Yes he was a dope emcee, but when he was in the company of an already established artist, he had instant credibility.

On the way to becoming one of the greatest rappers of our time, Eminem stumbled across a little known rapper from Queens by the name of 50 Cent. 50 was building a local buzz, but it wasn’t until Em gave him the co-sign that the world took notice.

Now for you hip hop heads, here’s where it gets even better… Why do you know who D-12 is? Why do you know who Tony Yayo is? Royce Da 5'9"?

The Co-Sign.

Now you might be asking “how does this apply to me and my desire to be a recognized influencer?”

Look at what happened… by associating themselves with people who were further ahead and already established, they gained INSTANT CREDIBILITY.

Whether they are good or not is subjective.

This is important for you because the key to going from a relatively unknown whatever you want to be, to being recognized in your field is the co-sign.

Get yourself around people who are already where you want to be.

And yes, it will probably cost you money.

I remember I reached out to Krayzie Bone from Bone Thugs n Harmony to be featured on a song I had. He quoted me $5k for a verse and I said shiiiiiiiiiit

Wrong mentality.

The smart thing for me to do would’ve been to find $5k (which isn’t really that hard) and pay for the feature! By virtue of having my name associated with a Grammy Award winning artist, I would have gained instant credibility in the eyes of my fan base.

This is imperative in the world of brand positioning. People with influence are not all assholes. In fact, I’ve come across some dope individuals that have gone out of their way to help me.

The bottom line is that one of the best investments you can make for yourself to position your brand is an investment in the time of those who are ahead of you.

You’re riding their wave to gain enough momentum to create your own.

Here’s a funky ending to the Aftermath story that you may want to pay attention to…

It stopped at 50 Cent. See, 50 did use his influence to build the career of another artist: The Game.

But when The Game’s wave was getting bigger than his, he shut that shit down and the cycle stopped.

The lesson there is to make sure you selflessly pay it forward. If you’re blessed enough to get a cosign and you’re to the point where YOUR cosign has clout, pass it on.

(just use discernment when you do)

Lil Wayne did it for Nicki Minaj and Drake.

Dr. Dre also did it for Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar

There’s real power there.