Hive Five: A Brief History of Rapper Restaurateurs

Rick Ross performs at the 2011 BET Awards in New York City. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The rapper-turned-business mogul has almost become a cliché. P. Diddy-Ciroc and 50 Cent-Vitamin Water deals exemplify an artist’s alignment of image and funds with a heavyweight food franchise in hopes of a healthy dividend. But not everyone chooses to invest in everyday staples, and some rappers choose to work their cash reserves at quirkier, lesser-known brands, while some just take time to invent their own. Known to boast about an addictive product, Rick Ross recently co-signed growing fast food chain Wingstop, telling Allhiphop.com:“After tasting Wingstop’s signature Lemon Pepper-flavored wings in Miami, I knew this was a franchise I wanted to add to my investments.” And just like that, Rick Ross has a stake in the fast-food industry. But he’s certainly not the first to get into the foodie game. With that in mind, Hive’s ordered up a brief history of five rappers turned restaurateurs.

1. Flavor Flav: Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa

With a name like Flavor Flav, how could you not open a fried chicken franchise in your name? The Public Enemy hype man wasn’t a blind investor, and in promotional videos surrounding the grand opening of Flav’s Fried Chicken, he shares that he was once head chef at the Nassau County Courthouse in the group’s home of Long Island. Yet Flav recently had to back out of his licensing agreement, citing unpaid employees and expired food due to his partner Nick Cimino’s mismanagement. Even hype men turned reality stars have an image to maintain.

2. Styles P – Juice For Life in the Bronx, N.Y.

Styles P’s most visible work as of late was a guest verse on Rick Ross’ “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).” What he didn’t mention over his 16-bar spot is that he’s the recent proprietor of a juice bar called “Juices for Life.” The D-Block denizen was turned on to eating healthy from co-investor Nyger Rollocks, owner of “Fruits of Life” in Harlem. From flipping fruity smelling greens to fruit smoothies, Styles P made a move to clean up his act and his tract.

3. Fat Joe – City Island Express in the Bronx, N.Y.

Given his recent weight loss and “live healthy” mentality, some might call owning a fried seafood and Caribbean cuisine spot in the Bronx’s City Island a conflict of interest. But Fat Joe is taking his weight loss seriously, and after losing seven friends in the past year to heart attacks, is likely skipping meals at his City Island Express in favor of lighter, healthier fare throughout the day. Still, the Japanese swear by a heavy fish diet as the source of their longevity — so we’ll assume Joe’s on that line of thinking.

4. Ludacris – Strait in Atlanta, GA

You might initially think Ludacris was a shoe-in for another wings spot given his 2003 album Chicken-N-Beer, but in fact he’s the only rapper on this list who opted out of the trusted burgers-n-wings concept in favor of something more upscale. Ludacris met restaurant owner Chris Yeo at a charity event and after bonding over food conversation, decided to extend Yeo’s Strait franchise of upscale Singaporean restaurants to Atlanta. Ludacris has become a foodie in the process, and you can find the delightfully successful duo at the Straits Atlanta website.

5. Fatburger – Many Investors, Many Locations

Fat Burger takes the burger-joint crown when it comes to hip-hop friendly food franchises. The chain has welcomed extensions on the dimes of E-40, Queen Latifah, Pharrell Williams and even Kanye West’s food holding company KW Foods LLC. West’s taste for food might not match his ear for beats or eye for fashion, and his first Fat Burger, for which he has rights to open ten franchises, disappointingly closed late last year, unable to clear the bottom line.

 

 

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