How Curren$y Played The Long Game With His Career & Jet Life
Most artists want career growth and they want it fast — sometimes to a fault. This is where Curren$y is an outlier. From the jump, Curren$y set out to grow both his career and fanbase slowly but steadily. He successfully did that and it’s a reason why he’s not only stayed in the rap game for almost twenty years, but is now still earning more money, and at a career point where most of his peers coming up have already fizzled out.
Curren$y and his longtime manager, Mousa, joined me on this week’s episode to explain how zigging when others zagged contributed to their career longevity. One instance is leaving his hometown Cash Money Records label to create their own, Jet Life. The two have been able to morph the brand into a full-on business empire that now includes apparel, athlete management, products, and more verticals on top of the music label.
The duo built Jet Life on the back of touring and being true to their audience. To do so, they turned down more brand partnerships they can remember and even music festival appearances at times — no matter how good the bag was for each. These trend-bucking moves were covered at length in our interview. Here’s what we covered:
[3:15 ] New Orleans folks are immune to heat
[4:44 ] Mousa and Curren$y relationship began in 2005
[8:49 ] Growing Jet Life business beyond a record label
[11:45 ] Turning down non-authentic business opportunities
[15:59 ] Emphasizing touring early in Curren$y’s career
[19:21 ] Releasing an EP as an NFT
[23:52 ] Curren$y’s take on streaming farms
[29:47 ] Macro-view of Jet Life revenue streams
[34:47 ] Touring is cornerstone of Jet Life business
[37:08 ] Performing on own shows vs. music festivals
[43:48 ] Festival money goes to sports car dealership
[45:16 ] Curren$y’s partnership with NASCAR (and problems with Coca-Cola)
[50:37 ] What’s the secret to a great artist-manager relationship?
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guests: Mousa Hamdan & Curren$y, @MOUSA504 & @spitta_andretti
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[00:00:00 ] Curren$y: You can always expand and try new things, but if it feels wrong on the core, then you're setting yourself up. We never made a move like that. No matter what deal comes across the table 'cause he's money first. But he'll tell the people, the check writer like, man, just let me talk to bro. Because at the end of the day, he's going to hear me say it's half a million dollars, but he might say it's a boring job and he might not want to do it.
[00:00:32 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to The Trapital podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level.
[00:00:54 ] Dan Runcie: Listen, you're going to love today's episode. It is with one of the most successful independent artists in the game and his longtime manager. We got Curren$y and we got Mousa. If you've been following Curren$y's journey for a while, you know that he was originally on No Limit Records 20 years ago. He left the record label. He then went to join Young Money. He was a little early on the Young Money Train, but he ended up leaving the record label before Nicki and before Drake blew up and he started his own. He started Jet Life, and he's been building up his career as an independent artist, and it's been great to see how he has navigated both how he releases music and also how he approached his business overall. And that was a big focus of this episode. We talked about his strategy for releasing music, and Curren$y is someone that is very prolific in terms of the amount of music that he puts out, but it also gets him plenty of opportunities to be able to go on tour, to be able to have several other business ventures that they have through Jet Life and through other areas. We talked about what they're doing in cannabis as well. We talked about the nightclub that they have, the apparel business, and a whole lot more. We also talked about a few partnerships that you may be surprised by, but I still think that fit well within the ethos for what Jet Life is and what Curren$y is trying to build. We even talked about some of the movie deals and opportunities that Curren$y had turned down. I don't want to spoil it. It's a really good one, but this was a really fascinating conversation, is also been great to just see how long these two have stuck together. If you're a big fan of this podcast, these are the type of episodes that you come for. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Curren$y and Mousa.
[00:02:41 ] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we're joined by the duo themselves. We got Curren$y and we got Mousa here, the artist-manager combination. How are you guys doing?
[00:02:49 ] Curren$y: Man, we can't complain. The weather is nice outside and it is been pretty bad out here in Orleans. It's been a hundred degrees and raining every day, but right now it's sunny, 86 degrees, you know what I'm saying? I got long sleeves on, top down, having a good day. I can't complain.
[00:03:07 ] Dan Runcie: See, that's the one thing about folks I know from New Orleans, like it could be 86 degrees and y'all are still in long sleeves. Y'all are still in hoodies.
[00:03:15 ] Curren$y: Well, it is, well, because it is the heat, we're already adjusting. It's just hot in here. So now we've gone more fashion-forward, bro. It's like, just fuck it, bro. Wear what you want to wear because it's still going to be 190 degrees no matter what. So just go for it. I don't really condone that lifestyle unless you have a car. A lot of my younger brothers I see walking up and down the street, and they definitely look like they're about to commit crimes because it's a hundred degrees and they got on the hoodie and I'm, like, weary of, I'm like, hold on, you know what I'm saying, because, fuck, that don't make no sense. You dressed for action. But if you are in the car, you are in the office, you are in the studio. That's where that look really originated. People always tell me, II'm dressed like that forever, but it's been because most of my life has been like tour bus, studio, even when it wasn't me, I was like a little guy on Masterpiece bus. It was 60 degrees, you know what I'm saying? And these big mansions, it's cold as shit. So I just grew acclimated to dressing like that. I think I might have spearheaded that. I honestly, I think that I may have spearheaded that, but what haven't we spearheaded over here, you know?
[00:04:25 ] Dan Runcie: It's true, especially folks at New Orleans, folks like y'all are trendsetters. And one of the things that I feel like sets y'all apart is that you've been doing this for so long, and you've been doing this for so long together. I mean, Mousa, you've been managing Curren$y now for, since '05, right? I know you do 'em before, but you started managing, like, '05, right?
[00:04:44 ] Mousa Hamdan: We're friends before, but definitely since '05, since he joined in with Lil Wayne, with Young Money, Cash Money. So I think that's when he brought me on and asked me to come on as his manager.
[00:04:53 ] Curren$y: Yep. Yeah.
[00:04:54 ] Mousa Hamdan: And you know...
[00:04:55 ] Curren$y: As soon as there was business to manage.
[00:04:58 ] Mousa Hamdan: Right.
[00:04:58 ] Curren$y: You know, right? While I was just slinging t-shirts, like ordering 28 t-shirts on a month, pressing CDs upstairs at my apartment, that was easy to do. When it began to grow and I saw, like, my two homes wasn't going to be enough to handle it, you know, what could I do but reach out to the one homie who I knew forever who don't want to smoke no weed with me, who don't want to get drunk with me, you know what