It was all business -- literally -- at Saturday's (May 14) Detroit Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment, the first stop on the Hip-Hop Action Summit Network's (HSAN) seven-city Get Your Money Right
It was all business -- literally -- at Saturday's (May 14) Detroit Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment, the first stop on the Hip-Hop Action Summit Network's (HSAN) seven-city Get Your Money Right Tour. The capacity crowd of 2,100 at Detroit's Orchestra Hall heard hometown hero Eminem, Lil Jon, Master P, Common and Fantasia discuss their own journeys from poverty to multi-millions during the three-hour session.
Eminem, on hand for the last half-hour of the event, advised attendees to "have a Plan B, because if you don't and you bank everything on that one shot you have [to be a rap star] and it don't work, you're kinda stuck with nothing." He also said that dropping out of high school to pursue a rap career "wasn't a smart decision."
Lil Jon and Master P detailed their rises as independent rap entrepreneurs, while Common spoke about real estate investments he made with his mother's advice and guidance. Run-DMC's Reverend Run called money "a spiritual entity" and spoke about the need to use it to give back to the community via music and other forms of service. The panel was moderated by former 3rd Bass rapper MC Serch, now a morning radio DJ in Detroit.
Despite describing 50 Cent as "50 Cents," best-selling author and CNBC host Suze Orman held the audience's attention as she offered expert advice about managing their finances, debt and how to build a good credit rating. "Let's get real; you don't have any money," she said, to appreciative laughter. "You get your money right by learning how to make more out of less money."
Though the summit ended with Common performing an impromptu rap and Eminem and others signing autographs, its academic tone struck a sour note with some. "It was boring," said Eric Aldridge, 18, of Detroit. "It was straight-up, but it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I thought it would be different than this."
Richard Griffin of the Ann Arbor office of Merrill Lynch understood that reaction. "We've got a young crowd here. They're star-struck," he said. "But there are young entrepreneurs here, too, who have questions about budgets and retirement. That's good to see."
One of those was Nikita Harper, 33, of Detroit, who came to the summit with her eight-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son. Harper is hoping to start a fitness center in Detroit, while her husband, who works at the Westin Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport, is starting his own record label. Harper wanted information for herself but also wanted her daughter to learn something from the participants.
"She doesn't know who Russell Simmons is," Harper said, "but I explained to her that all these people started with very little money and now have millions. She understands that."
Over the next five months, the Get Your Money Right tour will also hold summits in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Trenton, N.J., and Chicago.