An Insider’s Guide To Hip-Hop Celebrities And Their Business In New York City

NEW YORK CITY, 5 October 2023  Hip-hop music has been a pillar of New York City’s culture since its origin in the South Bronx in the 1970s. Hundreds of notable hip-hop artists have come from the five boroughs over the past five decades. In addition to their creative talents, many of these artists created empires rooted in hip-hop by leveraging their notoriety to build successful businesses. Check out these NYC shops and restaurants founded by local musicians and lovers of hip-hop culture.

Coffee Uplifts People (CUP)  
329 Gates Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn 

Coffee Uplifts People is a vibey coffee shop in Bed-Stuy opened in 2020 by radio host and entertainment personality Angela Yee and her two business partners, LaRon Batchelor and Tony Forte. Yee, who until recently co-hosted The Breakfast Club, a hip-hop centric morning show, was motivated to open the café during the pandemic when she noticed a lack of coffee shops in her neighborhood. The contemporary decor and sparse seating make it a great place to work remotely or take a quick break from the pulsing streets of the neighborhood. The menu offers traditional breakfast pastries (croissants and bagels) along with items from the many cultures around Brooklyn and sourced from nearby eateries, such as currant rolls from Allan’s Bakery. 

Juices for Life 
277 Malcolm X Blvd., Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn 

In the mood to drink your greens and get that extra boost of nutrients? Consider a visit to Juices for Life. Founded in the Bronx by Styles P and Jadakiss, two members of rap group The Lox, this shop now has locations in Brooklyn (co-owned by Angela Yee), Queens and Yonkers (where the pair grew up), offering an extensive list of smoothies, juices and juice shots. Styles P used juicing to gain control of his own health journey, and he and Jadakiss wanted to encourage those in less-wealthy communities to engage more in their overall wellness.

135 Alexander Ave., Mott Haven, the Bronx

This uptown eatery pays homage to hip-hop culture and transports patrons back to the streets of New York City during the ’70s and ’80s, when hip-hop was still on its ascent. Junior Martinez and Alfredo Anguier founded this Bronx restaurant, which they’ve styled with graffiti murals, photographs of hip-hop legends such as DJ Kay Slay and paintings of tagged New York subway trains from that early era. The menu has a mix of American soul food and Puerto Rican comfort dishes—we’re talking shrimp and grits, pernil, crispy catfish, bacalao and maduro appetizers that will make you want an extra order to go.

Boogie Down Grind Café 
868 Hunts Point Ave., Hunts Point, the Bronx 

The Boogie Down Grind is the go-to coffee shop in the South Bronx when you want to be fully immersed in hip-hop culture. South Bronx native Majora Carter founded the café to boost the surrounding Hunts Point community and highlight the local talent. Her previous aspiration to be a rapper and her general love for hip-hop inspire the themes around the café, which was recognized by Beyoncé with a BeyGood grant for revitalization of the restaurant. Carter used the grant to create an outdoor space that replicates a New York City subway car—the design earned the café an Alfresco NYC award. Live music and art pop-ups amplify the talent in the area and bring the community together.

3806 Broadway, Harlem, Manhattan; 519 W. 207th St., Inwood, Manhattan; 2490 3rd Ave., Mott Haven, the Bronx 

Head uptown to Up NYC, a sneaker and apparel store owned by rapper Fat Joe. The company launched in 2016 with locations in Harlem, Inwood and the Bronx, all of which display Joe’s love of sneakers and sneaker culture. Up NYC quickly garnered widespread support from local communities by offering popular streetwear brands like Billionaire Boys Club, Bape and Honor the Gift. Sneaker heads across the City come to grab the latest limited release, and the fashion conscious arrive in search of the perfect pair to complete an outfit.

Stay Press’d 
679 Classon Ave., Crown Heights, Brooklyn 

Stay Press’d is a great grab-and-go spot in Crown Heights for juices, smoothies and healthy fruit bowls. Cofounded by rapper Meechy Darko, a former member of the Flatbush Zombies, along with two longtime friends, the space is a small walk-in shop with fruit-inspired design on one wall and an extensive menu covering the opposite one. If you’re looking to stay a while, come for one its Taco Thursday evenings, which typically take place in the warm-weather months.

Sweet Chick 
Various locations around NYC 

Sweet Chick has gained popularity across the City over the past 10 years by highlighting one of the most delicious brunch food combos: chicken and waffles. Sweet Chick is partially owned by Queens-born rapper Nas and serves up perfectly golden crispy fried chicken with an assortment of both sweet and savory Belgian waffles. Flavors include apple cinnamon, chocolate chip, vanilla glaze and bacon cheddar. The menu offers other breakfast items such as pancakes, shrimp and grits, and breakfast sandwiches. The casual decor and lively atmosphere make it a great place for a quick and easy dinner or brunch with friends.

Killah Koffee Shop 
828 Castleton Ave., West Brighton, Staten Island

Killah Koffee is one of few Black-owned businesses—and the only one owned by a hip-hop artist—on Staten Island. Ghostface Killah, rapper and member of the Wu Tang Clan, opened the brick-and-mortar location in West Brighton after a year of successful online sales. The quaint coffee shop brews the finest arabica coffee beans, has a small selection of store-branded merchandise and is a great stop for a quick hot brew to go while exploring many of the other sites on the island.

Paint N Pour 
53 Delancey St., Lower East Side, Manhattan; 2080 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem, Manhattan

Head on over to Paint N Pour on the Lower East Side or in Harlem for a night of great music and a way to express your creativity. This spot is not your typical paint and sip experience—guests are guided through painting their favorite hip-hop artist all while listening to hip-hop hits and sipping specially crafted cocktails. The studio walls are covered in graffiti, and the Harlem location features murals of legendary musicians such as Biggie Smalls and Beyoncé. If all the painting makes you hungry, don’t worry: there’s a full food menu with items such as fish tacos, sliders and jerk chicken empanadas.

Bronx Native 
127 Lincoln Ave., Mott Haven, the Bronx

This curated clothing and gift store was founded by Bronx natives Amaurys and Roselyn Grullon. The siblings started by designing stylish apparel such as hats and T-shirts that represents the Bronx. When you step into the store you are immersed in hip-hop culture, specifically Bronx culture—the walls are covered in graffiti tags created by patrons as they come to shop (yes, you can tag the walls too!) and photos of hip-hop artists such as the Bronx’s own Big Pun. Choose from the large selection of tees, sweatshirts, caps and accessories (think throw pillows, mugs and pins) to show your love for the BX.

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