Let’s be real: making a living through an art form is difficult. Even after having a major hit, a lot of artists will fizzle out into obscurity and their once large fortunes will dwindle. That is not the case with Chamillionaire.
After becoming a major player in the hip-hop world with the releases of his major label albums (The Sound of Revenge and Ultimate Victory), along with his acclaimed mixtapes (specifically the Mixtape Messiah series), Hakeem Seriki didn’t play around and started investing his rap earnings outside of the music business. This included putting that money into tech startups and ride sharing services (among other industries).
Serving as a prime example of success in the music business – and as an entrepreneur – Chamillionaire sat down with Tom Bilyeu as part of his Impact Theory series to discuss how he managed to navigate through his rough upbringing to achieve eminence.
The rapper believes the key to his attaining success started when he gave up being afraid and took that first step – even when it was his own family that was stifling his dreams.
“I think the number one thing that keeps people from being successful is their fear,” said Chamillionaire.
“Sometimes it’s about the people around you and how they’ll perceive you because maybe you grew up in a household where things weren’t accepted or you know, maybe your parents didn’t accomplish things and then they put that kinda insecurity on you. You know, I used to have a little bit of that; I used to write my raps in super sloppy writing on purpose because my dad used to come, he used to look [at them] and he was like ‘what is this?’ He used to ball it up and throw it away so I started writing sloppy on purpose to make it look like it was school work. These are the things that I feel sometimes prevents people from being who they wanna be because all it takes is somebody wanting to take a step.”
For Seriki, he thinks perhaps his experiences during his youth/adolescence might be a factor as to why he was able to put fear aside.
“There’s so many things in our lives that we’re scared about but we’re still here, we made it past all these things,” he said.
“During my life, I saw so many things that seemed scary and was able to make [it] through that it’s just like now, the things that seemed so scary to people [are] just not as scary to me. When I think about venture capitalists and tech and entrepreneurship and all these people from MIT and Stanford you know, it was a little intimidating before I got into it but I was like ‘have you seen where I came from? What I been through?’ Like, I’ve seen some things that I wouldn’t wish on any kid to see, so I’m like it just doesn’t seem that scary to me and if you fail, so what? You start over, you do it again, but most people that fear of failure is the thing that I think prevents them from like really, really being successful.”
Of course, they say knowing is half the battle.
While some can come to grips with knowing failing isn’t the end of the road to success, there’s another key ingredient required: application. To Chamillionaire, in order to apply this knowledge you simply have to make an effort and commit to that vision.
“When you tell people the answer to success, it’s a lot of hard stuff, you gotta work hard right? Nobody wants to hear that, everybody wants a shortcut,” he said.
“If you tell people right now ‘hey if you wanna lose this many pounds this is what you gotta do,’ there’s no short solution but every time, there’s still people out there selling whatever Herbalife treatment or whatever to try to get you the quick short route because people believe that, ‘you know what I’m gonna do it the easy way’ and there is no easy way.”
Further illustrating his point that staying the course and putting in the work are the key factors of success, the artist used a story about rock breaking to drill home his message.
“I think somebody was telling me this story one time, I thought it was really great, they’re like when you’re chiselling at a rock…you can chisel for a hundred times, two hundred times, three hundred times and it won’t break, and when you get to five thousand times it finally breaks. All the work that you did is what made it break – it’s not like the last one just broke it,” he said.
“But sometimes people don’t wanna start that journey, they don’t wanna get on the mission of becoming the best that they can be, but I think that people like me come from places where we’re motivated by things that we’re not tryna go back to. Sometimes, it’s a very dark place. It’s all kinds of things you’re just tryna put in the back of your head; compartmentalize and just move on.”
The 45 minute interview can be viewed in its entirety below. Throughout, Chamillionaire discusses how his rough upbringing influenced his life for the better, how he got started in investing in tech start-ups, why he uses e-mail instead of text, how Paul Wall helped him change his approach towards fans and more.