Is a record label a business? Def Jam? Bad Boy? DTP? These are all business's that started on the ground level. Business that were all nurtured from the dollar of the those who started the business. All a record company can offer is distribution to an already established artist or label. These are legitimate businesses but like I was saying and what your proving is starting a lable is not looked at person with a dream starting a buisness its looked at as another rapper starting another lable. The stipulation is that lable that helped to solidify that artist into the the limelight is somehow less of a hustle then Bill Gates. When both ideas could have had the same 2 results, either wildly successful, or sadly unsuccessful. Both companies required the same sort of business acumen and dedication. Your saying that once these lables begin blowing up they are matched with some big budget corporation that pretty much aligns the stars for them, that's just not the case. Russel Simmons wasn't approached to start a clothing line, he had a vision that is where he wanted to go and completed that vision through hard work and innovation....of course Phat Farm clothing is no longer marketable, Simmons innovated the music world with the idea of product placement (how many artist today have perfumes lines), another example is no big time corporation approached 50 with vitamin water.....he saw the potentional of the drink and put his own money behind it....and with his business acumen helped to push the product to become what it is today........all this is more then just some rappers who worked hard only to be a.ssisted by big time endorsment ...for Puffy and 50 their endorsment of other peoples products have gotten more money.....in that aspect Puffy and 50 are the corporations investing into the people doing the business with.
Your stance point is a Jay Z cannot be compared to a Bill Gates because Bill did it with no help(which is not true, Bill also needed big corporation money to get Microsoft off the ground as most major business's do)......my position is both gentleman are extremely intelligent and deserve the same respect in their own rights. Bill Gates may have more money, but that is only because his invention was more innovative then anything Jay Z has to offer.........but in the same sense Bill Gates could not matter Jay's hustle because Jay exist on 2 levels of the buissness world and the streets.
All the labels you named are all subsidiaries under the larger parent companies that basically created them. Most of them were corporate inceptions from their very birth. The only label that could somewhat say otherwise was Def Jam. Def Jam was started by Rick Rubin who isn't a rapper, he gets credit for creating the small little imprint that was Def Jam at the time, but he didn't grow it , he didn't work it into long term prominence by himself. He was fired from his own label in 1988 and then Def Jam almost shut down in 1994 until Universal stepped in and bought it.
The difference between these subsidiary labels and the companies of these entrepreneurs you're comparing them to is that nobody owns the companies of these larger entrepreneurs. Microsoft isn't owned by a bigger company, Apple isn't owned by a bigger company, Papa John's isn't owned by a bigger company, etc. These are all companies that maintained their independence from their inception to their current prominence. Their founders worked them from scratch and stuck with them and lead them into prominence where they still stand today.
Your other examples only help my point. 50 didn't create Energy Brands/Glaceau (the company that makes Vitamin Water) he simply bought stock in it. That makes him an investor not an entrepreneur. One obviously requires more work than the other. He had nothing to do with the creation or running of that company. Russell isn't a rapper, he's a businessman , has been from the beginning. So Phat Farm isn't really a creation from a rapper but it isn't really a "from scratch" creation either being that Russell as an investor pitched the idea to Kellwood Company which is a large fashion company that designs, manufactures, and markets all of the clothing. Once again Russell was just an investor and a face used by a larger corporation.
The bottom line is that these rappers are talents that are picked up and utilized by larger corporations. Why do you think these artists have called themselves slaves and compared the music industry to tenant farming or share cropping ?? because somebody else owns the company and gets the lion's share of the profit. Essentially these rappers are hoes being pimped. Then once they get popular enough on the block they start doing work for other pimps (other corporations) that pay them for their services to make them money. These entrepreneurs that STARTED, WORKED, and OWN these multi billion dollar companies are the real pimps.
I'm not trying to knock these rappers and say they didn't do anything at all, They did a lot, they did AMAZING things. All I'm saying is, don't compare the hoes to the pimps.