University of Miami Business Law Review

Document Type



Most people are familiar with superstar rappers like Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Drake, who continue to anchor hip-hop in a competitive culture of braggadocio, high fashion, and lethal lyrics. Many are also familiar with the recent deaths of rising stars like King Von, Pop Smoke, PnB Rock, and Takeoff due to gun violence. However, beyond the megastars, melodic music, and the high-profile murders, hip-hop represents a global marketplace valued at over $15 billion, which is shocking considering the poverty surrounding its birth. On the eve of its 50th anniversary in 2023, hip-hop’s position as the dominant form of contemporary music remains unassailable.2

However, hip-hip as a business sector has also been known for shady business tactics, thuggery, unsavory individuals, and a longstanding history of using organized crime and violence to resolve conflict. Issues like these merit real examination from a new perspective such as: “what’s the accountability within the music industry and law enforcement community for these events” and “what responsibilities do the media companies funding rap music have when they employ rogue artists engaged in criminality.” Simply put, if hip-hop artists are engaged in criminal activity sanctioned and funded indirectly by their music labels, then those companies should also be held criminally responsible for the resulting harm. For that reason, this paper sets forth the legal framework to establish criminal culpability on behalf of the financiers that have been inadvertently or intentionally funding these criminal enterprises in hip-hop over the last 50 years