How To Become A Successful Hip Hop Artist: Image

Image01In a follow up to Part 1 of becoming a successful hip hop artist, Part 2 looks at the importance of crafting an image which matches your established brand, whether it's flashy and ostentatious, or simple and humble.


Guest Post by Darius Burgan of ArtistShortcut.com

Part 2 of a 4 part series.

Welcome to the 2nd article of this 4 part series about becoming a successful Hip Hop artist. I appreciate you reading this and would love for you to share it with your friends on social media.

If you haven’t read the 1st article in this 4 part series, please do:

Becoming A Successful Hip Hop Artist: Branding 

In the article above, you’ll learn:

  • What’s a brand
  • Why branding is important
  • How branding helps you as an artist
  • How to brand yourself
  • And more

Anyway, let’s focus on today’s main topic: your image.

Why Is My Image Important?

Your image gives your target audience a visual character and personality for your brand. It creates a stronger relationship with fans, while moving them closer to becoming customers.

What Does My Image Consist Of?

  • The way you dress
  • Your personality

What Do You Mean By “Personality”?

Personality just means the way you act.

So, to keep this area simple and straightforward, just be yourself. Unless you’re an asshole, then be someone else.

People want to work with and build relationships with honest, genuine people. If you’re honest and genuine, just be yourself and you shouldn’t have much problem.

I Don’t Need Help With Dressing Myself. I Got Swag.


You might feel like you don’t need help with your image and that’s cool. You don’t want instructions on how to dress and I don't blame you. But, there’s a possibility that you don’t know how to dress in a way that compliments your brand.

I’ll give you an example using Kendrick Lamar (one of my favorite artist).

A lot of Kendrick Lamar’s brand is humble and ‘bigger picture’ focused at the moment. Buying designer clothes could be tempting, seeing as K.L is a young black male from the hood.

Now, I don’t know if Compton is into designer like that, but Cleveland is. That’s all young black men want. You know, Gucci belts, Rolex watches, chains, earrings, etc..

But, Kendrick Lamar wouldn’t be able to wear that and grow his brand (easily). Why? Because, a humble person (his brand) mixed with flashy clothes (the image) are opposites in our society.

You expect a humble person to wear simple clothing:


  • Plain shirts
  • jeans
  • simple colors
  • limited jewelery / cars / house size
  • etc..

You would expect someone with flashy clothes to have these traits:


  • rude
  • cocky
  • selfish
  • etc..

I’m not saying Soulja Boy has those traits, but this pic would make you believe so.

Now, there are a lot of people that wear flashy clothes, that are humble (some successful). But, our society, in general, would assume people with flashy clothes, have those traits. Use these stereotypes to your advantage.

So, How Do I Improve My Image?

Tip #1: Create your image after creating your story

Too many artist work on their image before they even have their branding and story. That’s an inefficient way of doing it. Not wrong, but inefficient.

I say that because, your story and brand is the foundation for your career. Your music and visuals should match your story.

So, create your image after you've created your story and what your brand will stand for / mean.

Tip #2: Keep your image consistent with your story

Make sure your image is consistent with your story at all times. Your image should be able to tell the same story as your brand, even if your viewer has no idea about your brand.

If your story makes you look flashy, go buy some designer clothing and wear it to the fullest. But, if your story makes you look humble, keep it simple and plain (but nice).

Tip #3: Look at what’s working for the competition, then improve

Don’t be like most of these other Hip Hop artists that completely steal someone's style. It’s not cool and it will only hurt your brand’s credibility down the road.

But, It’s fine to look at another Hip Hop artist's style, see what’s working for them and what’s not. Then improve on that. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

“Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

So, What Did We Learn Today?

  • Why your image is important
  • What your image consist of
  • How to dress in a way that compliments your brand
  • How to improve your image

In the next article, we’re going to discuss:

  • How to create ‘good’ music
  • How to promote your music
  • Along with a few things you should not be doing when marketing your music

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  1. If you’ve just read this article and have any questions or would like to just talk about the article, leave a comment. I’ll answer every one and try to help as much as possible.

  2. What you’re doing is very much appreciated and I have faith that with these articles I will be a much more improved independent artist! Respect!

  3. Thank you for this article. As an image consultant for recording artists, I continually find myself having to explain the importance of knowing your brand and your story first before we can start putting a look together.

  4. Hey Lori! Thank you for reading. So many artists have no idea what their story is. It’s scary how many artists want to be successful, but just “wing” it.

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