Legendary producer Swizz Beatz said the early innovators of hip-hop deserve a cut of the millions being made by the genre's biggest artists today. 

During a conversation with rapper-turned-podcaster Joe Budden on his Instagram Live show Zone Radio, Beatz said hip-hop pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash are owed a cut of the massive earnings pulled in by today's rap stars.


"I wanna raise a million dollars for each icon that started hip-hop, Kool Herc on down. The fact that we're not paying taxes on who started hip-hop shows that we don't f**king really love hip-hop. The fact that we don't pay taxes as artists to those icons that paved the way, took the lower cut for the music that allow us to feed our families. ... We need to be paying taxes to the creators of hip-hop that gave us freedom of speech to go forward,” Beatz told Budden.

Beatz is one of the minds behind the wildly popular Verzuz battles that have dominated Instagram over the last two months.


The battles have drawn millions of viewers and increased streams and sales for artists who have participated and have brought legendary music to a new generation of listeners.

The Verzuz battles between Erykah Badu and Jill Scott as well as Babyface and Teddy Riley have dominated conversation since coronavirus quarantines began. 

Part of what spurred the conversation about hip-hop taxes was a discussion of how Verzuz was reviving a widespread love and appreciation for past generations of music.

Beatz spoke about how he wanted to do battles centered around verses from legendary artists like LL Cool J,  Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and Busta Rhymes. The conversation moved to the idea that legendary rappers of the past have not received their due and that they deserved a cut of the wealth being accrued by the current generation of rhymesayers.

“Every new deal that gets signed, 1% or half a percent should go towards rapper reparations,” Budden said in response, adding that it should become a standard the way 360 deals are now an industry standard.

Beatz's intentions are admirable, but it's safe to say the consensus was he may need to return to the drawing board with his desired form of homage.