Rap Snacks is on a mission to create a lasting impression on the culture through its business blueprint.
Created in 1994 by James Lindsay, Rap Snacks has energized the business and music landscape for Hip-Hop artists that include Master P, who now serves as limited partner, and other relevant artists such as Lil Baby, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, and Nicki Minaj.
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Origins Of Rap Snacks
The vision for the company dates back to Lindsay’s childhood years as he walked into Philadelphia, PA, convenience stores to purchase a bag of chips for 25 cents.
“At a younger age, you know what you want to do. I always liked snacking, and it just hit me one day, ‘This is what I want to do’ as I progressed and looked at the industry,” Lindsay told AFROTECH during an interview.
Many of the snacks Lindsay came to know and love at the time were major brand names, but few were relatable products for the Black community, he says. Understanding the value of authentic representation, he felt that the most effective approach would be to disrupt the packaged food industry.
How It All Started
The feat is even more impressive when you consider the company launched without outside investors or support from banks. Instead, the venture was embraced by family and friends, who collectively contributed $40,000.
“It was scary,” Lindsay expressed to AFROTECH. “Launching any business with no equity. You can’t go to the bank… So, when I started telling my family and friends about the idea, I didn’t know this person had $10,000. I didn’t know this person had $15,000. I’m like, ‘You guys got that much money?’ They felt the idea was great.”
He continued, “To make a long story short, I raised $40,000, which is not a lot of money at the time. And that $40,000, I got a manufacturer to make the product. I had to buy the seasoning. Nobody gave me any credit. It was all cash.”
The investment from family and friends wasn’t in vain. Within the first two hours of Rap Snacks’ launch, the company sold out of all 800 cases. This was a testament to its promise of bringing authentic products to the Black community.
Securing Business With Master P
What’s more, the vision would continue to scale, helping the company catch the attention of Universal Records. Lindsay connected with Jacqueline Rhinehart, the label’s senior vice president of marketing at the time, presenting a proposal for Universal Records to shift its strategy from featuring artists on sneakers to showcasing them on chip bags. One of the first artists to be on board was Master P.
“The reason why I got involved with teams with Rap Snacks, I seen a passion,” Master P explained to AFROTECH. “I noticed that [Lindsay] put his own money into it. I always tell people, ‘If you want me to put something into the game, you gotta have skin in the game.’ This guy was serious about this brand, which a lot of people didn’t believe. They didn’t see it. And I remember at one time, nobody wanted to be on the bag. Now, today, everybody wants to be on the bag. We have to fight people off.”
Lindsay added, “Master P is really the type of entrepreneur that sees opportunities and things that nobody else sees. That’s a really important way to be successful, being able to see the diamond in the rough that other people don’t see.”
Master P’s role at Rap Snacks started with him being a brand ambassador. The rapper-turned-entrepreneur felt he could leverage the success of his career as a rapper to enhance the company’s marketing efforts.
“To be able to sell $100 million records and then come into something else with James, with Rap Snacks knowing that ‘OK, I’m going to do the marketing part of this and be a part of that,'” Master P said.
In 2017, Master P would become a limited partner in Rap Snacks, and he helped Lindsay broaden the company’s products lineup into noodles, breakfast cereals, and rice, according to the Rap Snacks website.
In addition to new products, the company’s footprint has expanded to the United Kingdom.
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Today, the business duo continues to build their momentum around the same strategies that proved effective for the brand when their bag of chips was priced at 25 cents. Their secret? Genuine interest in the brand.
“The business strategy back then was selling millions of bags of 25 cent potato chips, which doesn’t exist anymore, but when I think about that strategy, it really allowed us to have ample opportunities for people to taste our product,” Lindsay noted to AFROTECH. “I was very confident that when they taste our product, that they will come back again. So, that’s serving us as we move forward into having a premium product.”
In light of a new year and setting new benchmarks for their growing empire, the entrepreneurs want to ensure they are leaving behind a blueprint for others who aspire to be shelved in stores.
Rap Snacks Disrupt Summit 2024
That’s the reason they convened in Miami, FL, Jan. 9-12, 2024, for Rap Snacks’ “Disrupt Summit 2024: Where CPG Meets Culture.” The event provided attendees with educational keynotes, workshops, and exclusive fireside chats, fostering exposure, networking opportunities, and access to valuable resources and insights, a news release mentions.
“You’re not a millionaire unless you create other millionaires,” Master P reflected. “And I think that’s what we are doing. We are getting on that road to help others create success and create generational wealth.”
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Ownership Of Distribution Channels
Additionally, Lindsay and Master P are quite literally creating a roadmap through the establishment of Rap Snacks Trucking. Announced in October 2023, the venture allows them to take control of the company’s distribution channels, enabling efficient and timely transportation of loads across the United States, a news release states.
“If you don’t own your manufacturing or your distribution, you are at somebody else’s mercy, and they can pull you off of the shelves,” Lindsay explained to AFROTECH. “They have all these type of programs. They put you in these big stores, but they put you in these big stores to fail because you’re not prepared, and they know that. What we’re going to do is what we continue to do, create those avenues of ‘we own our distribution, we own our manufacturing.’ So, that way we make the decisions. Nobody can come to us tomorrow and say, ‘I don’t wanna produce your product and you’re out of business.'”
Aspirations For The Company
Lindsay and Master P aim to ensure Rap Snacks will become the biggest consumer packaging goods company in the world, they say, with their eyes set on Africa in mid-2024.