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Rap Snacks

Spotlight: Rap Snacks CEO James Lindsay On Building A New Marketplace For Hip-Hop

The man behind the infamous hip-hop chips speak out. 

"I knew that I created a brand years ago that I could rebrand and make synonymous with what's going on in today's world."
There's been a lot of talk these days about hip-hop going pop. But what about going popcorn? Or potato chips, or cheese puffs for that matter? Rap Snacks CEO and majority owner James Lindsay is bringing some of the genre's biggest stars to convenience stores around the country by putting their likenesses on bags of chips, each featuring their own specifically-designed flavors with an exercise in next-level branding that'll have music fans licking their lips.

READ: Snoop Dogg Teams Up With Jack In The Box To Satisfy America’s Munchies

Lindsay originally launched the company in 1994 with a brand partnership with Master P, but things slowed down for Rap Snacks around 2011. But after spending years co-managing Meek Mill (a role he still holds), last year Lindsay rebranded and relaunched the business, sorting out previous issues with manufacturing and distribution and rolling out new flavors that included Migos' Sour Cream with a Dab of Ranch, which even got its own jingle from the superstar trio.

Now, in markets around the East Coast and Midwest (with plans to expand westward) there are packs of Fetty Wap's Honey Jalapeño, Boosie Badazz's Louisiana Heat, Fabolous' New York Deli Cheddar and Romeo Miller's Bar-B-Quin with My Honey chips -- the only holdover from the old flavors, which Lindsay claims to be the first-ever honey barbecue chip, created when Miller was known as Lil Romeo. (Miller, Master P's son, is a limited partner in the company.) And, as of Sunday, Lindsay -- who designs the flavors himself -- has added four more varieties to the Rap Snacks roster: Lil Yachty's Hot Cheese Fries and Hot Chili Pepper & Lime Crunchy Curls, Trina's Honey Jalapeño cheese puffs and Migos' new White Cheddar with a Dab of Ranch Popcorn. The company even has Rap Snacks-branded vending machines that will be going out to the market soon, playing music videos by their various endorsers.

READ: Lil B Whips Up Vegan Delights On His ‘Food Makes Me Happy’ Cooking Show

Lindsay says it's the years spent working with Meek Mill where he saw changes in the music industry that signaled the time was right to bring Rap Snacks back. "I just noticed that with the internet these kids were really into items that were approved by the artists and I knew that I created a brand years ago that I could rebrand and make synonymous with what's going on in today's world," he says. "Social media has played a big part in the resurgence of Rap Snacks, because people knew about it but everybody didn't know about it."

As far as the business goes, Lindsay says each flavor is a partnership with the artist. "I told these guys, 'You make what I make,'" he says. "The new version of Rap Snacks is something just to teach these guys the power of their brand. Years ago they needed a lot of these big companies to pay them to do X, Y and Z, now they're becoming the brand where they can sell through all their social media followers and they don't really need those big companies anymore. They can make a lot of money just promoting their own brand."

And, maybe in this case, their own chips too.

Spotlight

When you're coming up make sure you focus on something that you really love to do. Do your research, be innovative and outwork everybody.

My big break came two years ago, when we relaunched Rap Snacks, because social media had caught up with the Rap Snacks brand. The Migos' Rap Snacks jingle was the breaking point.

Dealing with musicians is very different because you have to learn how to think like they think. A lot of times they are in a more creative space when it comes to business. You have to learn how to meet them in the middle in order to build relationships and get the job done.

When I strategize I try to focus on the present and the future of how I am looking to move my business forward. A part of strategizing is out-of-the-box thinking. It's called the surprise effect... People don't see you coming.

I've learned to move in silence. I've learned to also be patient and be very strategic about how you move.

The best advice I've received is to do you... Be you, believe in your talents and bet on yourself instead of other people.

Spotlight is a new Billboard.biz series that aims to highlight those in the music business making innovative or creative moves, or who are succeeding in behind-the-scenes or under-the-radar roles. For submissions for the series, please contact [email protected]

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Kentucky Catholic School Faces Backlash After Students Berate Indigenous Peoples March Protesters

Representatives from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School have confirmed plans to look into their student body after several of their students appeared in a viral video harassing and mocking protesters at an Indigenous Peoples March.

The viral video above spread around the web Saturday (Jan. 19) a day after the protest that took place in Washington, D.C. Teens in the video were rocking "Make America Great Again" to support President Donald Trump and the anti-abortion March for Life demonstration that was also taking place on Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports  Laura Keener, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, released a statement about the video: "We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it."

In the video below, Indigenous elder Nathan Phillips of the Omaha tribe was reportedly performing a song meant to calm down the crowd when the large group of teens surrounded him, with one eye to eye as he and another elder chanted.

https://twitter.com/2020fight/status/1086476619877765120

In tears, Phillips recalled the incident, calling for an apology and that the teens would "put that energy into making this country really great." The teens also got their messages mixed up when they also screamed "build that wall" toward him.

"I heard them saying 'build the wall, build that wall,'" he said.  "This is indigenous land. We’re not supposed to have walls here. Before anyone came here there were no walls, we never even had prisons. We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We taught them right from wrong."

 

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#ipmdc #ipmdc19 #indigenousunited #indigenouspeoplesmarch #indigenouspeoplesmarch2019

A post shared by KC🇬🇺🌴🌴 (@ka_ya11) on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:42pm PST

Speaking to The Enquirer Vincent Schilling shared how Phillips has been attacked in the past for standing up for indigenous peoples. Schilling, who is a member of the Mohawk tribe, said Phillips was pelted with trash just a few years ago by Eastern Michigan University students who hosted a Native American-themed party.

"As a Native American journalist, I find this to be one of the most egregious displays of naïve – I can’t even say naïve. It’s racism. It’s blatant racism," Schilling said.

"The guy has just been through a lot. To see Mr. Phillips treated this way is an incalculable amount of disrespect, and it's absolutely unacceptable in Native culture. As a Native man, I’ve got it countless times myself I’ve been mocked, I’ve been teased, my culture has been ridiculed. This is just another brick in the wall. I wanted so bad to walk up to those kids and say, 'You know this is a Vietnam veteran, right?'"

Director Ava DuVernay slammed the teens for their behavior as well as a number of indigenous social justice figures.

Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019

Thank you for the kind shout-out @Ava

Nathan Phillips and I have shared in a sacred pipe ceremony to honor Native American veterans.

He is a Vietnam veteran, such behavior is terrible.

Again, thank you for your support. https://t.co/RRaQeEJFku

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) January 19, 2019

The teens in the video haven't been identified.

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Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

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Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

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