As hip-hop culture reaches its 50th anniversary, the art form is proving it is ready for further evolution.
Rock The Bells, the hip-hop platform led by LL Cool J, recently raised $15 million through Series B funding. The company plans to use the funding to expand its ability to celebrate hip-hop culture through content creation, entertainment, and commerce.
“This Series B round reflects the confidence our investors have in Rock The Bells as a global platform,” said LL Cool J, founder and CEO of Rock The Bells, said in a press release. “Hip hop is an art form that many people doubted from day one, but our culture continues to rise to higher heights! I’m honored that Rock The Bells is leading this resurgence of timeless hip hop, while simultaneously bridging the generations. I’m so excited about all of the amazing things we have planned for the community, fans and brands! This is just the beginning.”
The funding was led by Raine Ventures, Irving Azoff of Iconic Artists Group, and Paramount Global. Further participants in this round of funding included Amex Ventures, Wildcat Capital Management, and Capstar Ventures. Additional investments also included ASK Capital, North Island (Glenn Hutchins), AME Cloud Ventures and XO Capital.
Building The Brand: Hip-Hop As A Global Destination
LL Cool J, a pioneer hip-hop artist and veteran actor with a net worth of $120 million, founded Rock The Bells in 2018. Since then the brand has expanded its ability to reach audiences through various avenues. Its media reach includes Rock The Bells Radio on SiriusXM and the content platform, RockTheBells.com. Rock The Bells licensing and merchandising partnerships with various retailers such as Target and Walmart.
Partnerships with PepsiCo, as well as Proctor & Gamble, have solidified Rock The Bells as a global brand that is able to share hip-hop culture through curated experiences and events such as the annual Rock The Bells Festival in August and Rock The Bells Cruise in November.
The additional investments will allow Rock The Bells to grow its brand through retail partnerships and expand into the European Union. The funding will also help expand the popular Rock The Bells Festival while also developing new events in the media and entertainment industries.
The New York City festival features hip hop legends and is constantly sold out. In 2022, the lineup included Ice Cube, Jadakiss, Rick Ross, Lil’ Kim, Busta Rhymes and Scarface. It also featured the Trill Mealz Food Court, curated by rapper Bun B, which offered grub from rappers’ eateries such as Bun B’s Trill Burgers, Nas’ Sweet Chick and Ghostface Killah’s Killah Koffee. Some 13,000 people attended the one-day event.
“Rock The Bells has brand affinity that’s been built over time through consistency and authenticity,” said James Cuthbert, president of Rock The Bells, in a press statement. “We hold our audience’s trust, and we grow together by asking them to be a part of everything we do. Our partners proudly support our work because it spans generations, cements a legacy, and continues to elevate hip hop in a way that honors the art form and highlights it deservingly.”