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From Roc Nation to TDE: A look at hip-hop labels getting into sports

Former star LSU running back Derrius Guice made news last summer when he signed with Top Dawg Entertainment, the indie hip-hop label that has been carried by Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and SZA.

Then he broke headlines again recently when he decided to ditch them to sign with Young Money Sports instead. He will now have Birdman’s backing entering the 2018 NFL Draft as a rookie.

Still, those aren’t the only two music labels getting into the sports management business. Former Penn State running back and future NFL first-round pick Saquon Barkley is signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports.

Roc Nation currently holds the most impressive roster of hip-hop labels that have joined in on the sports world.

Their roster boasts world-class talents like Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng, Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant, Rams running back Todd Gurley, Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, Spurs swingman Rudy Gay, and many other names.

These deals can be interesting for athlete and label alike. For players, they are given the opportunity to occupy the entertainment sphere like never before. The music labels themselves will actually hire real sports agents to negotiate things like contracts, incentives, and market value for their athletes.

But the real value in teaming up with record labels seems like a pretty obvious move to get their image in relevant ad campaigns and placements. The effect sports and music has on culture has many similarities, so it only makes sense to combine the two.

As for the labels themselves, sports make sense because, well, there’s a shit ton of money in them. According to Forbes, the industry will be worth $73.5 billion by 2019.

The music industry can be a fickle business but attaching your name to a valuable sports commodity can mean steady and guaranteed income for the remainder of that player’s career and beyond.

With news of Guice’s signing to TDE, it’ll be interesting to see if other hip-hop labels get into the business of sports management.

We already have seen that Quality Control has made certain moves to occupy that space by signing Saints running back Alvin Kamara to their team.

This is a pretty mutually beneficial move for both players and labels, we’ll be watching to see who, and if, TDE adds to their roster.