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Hustle Hard or Hardly Hustle? The Pros and Cons of Hustle Culture Are More Complex Than You Think

The concept of hustle culture has been around for decades, but people are starting to wonder if it has more cons than pros. Here is what we think.


May 8 2024, Published 3:47 p.m. ET

Every hip-hop head knows that a huge chunk of rap songs, both past and present, have hustle culture embedded in their DNA. Veteran rappers like Jay-Z and Rick Ross, prolific business moguls, have built their careers around encouraging hustle culture.

Rappers are known for penning songs about how they escaped rough neighborhoods by working hard and relentlessly. In rap, the mantra “sleep is for the dead” isn't just a saying; it’s a lifestyle. In fact, in J. Cole’s “9 5 . s o u t h,” the North Carolina native proclaimed: “I get up, dust my clothes off / sleep is the cousin of death / No plans to doze off.”

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This has become the status quo for famous rappers and their fans, and it is a mindset that has been glorified in hip-hop lyrics and praised by social commentators, painting a picture of hustle culture as the ultimate path to success.

However, like any cultural phenomenon, hustle culture is a double-edged sword with benefits and drawbacks. Read on to explore the pros and cons of hustle culture.

The pros of hustle culture can be alluring.

Hustle culture can be empowering because it inspires people to believe in themselves enough to work for what they want and feel fulfilled. Many artists have rapped about getting “out of the mud” and making their way in life by “putting in the work” all day, every day, and this is the mentality that inspires this.

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A second reason hustle culture can be empowering is that it allows people to be independent and resilient. The major idea behind this is that if you work hard enough, there is a potential for financial gain, which can be appealing to anyone who is in a tough financial situation.

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Thirdly, in a world that can generally feel unkind to people of color, hustle culture can offer a feeling of self-empowerment in response to the systemic barriers and discrimination that people of color face. It can also allow people to feel like, regardless of the cards they have been dealt, they have the ability to take control of their destinies.

At its best, hustle culture is ambition in action. It implies that if you work hard and long enough, you will succeed, and it promotes the idea that there are no limits to what can be achieved.

Rick Ross famously rapped, “Every day I'm hustlin’,” and the catchy intro has become the anthem for grinding round the clock to crack the code of success. To validate this, other rappers like T.I. have also contributed to the cultural idea that a person isn’t simply an individual but an empire.

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According to research, the cons of hustle culture are equally significant.

While hustle culture is celebrated in pop culture, people don't frequently talk about its drawbacks.

For all the ways that non-stop work is glorified, hustle culture often glosses over the toll this takes on mental and physical health.

According to a study by Deloitte, hustle culture and burnout go hand in hand. The company’s study revealed that about 77% of people have experienced burnout at their jobs, and 42% have quit their jobs because they felt burned out.

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Burnout, which often manifests as exhaustion, cynicism, and a lack of inspiration or enthusiasm about life, can weigh very heavily and have long-term effects on the body and brain. Thankfully, more people are beginning to pay attention to the toll of overworking and its impact on mental health.

Chasing success at all costs can cause a work-life imbalance, which can negatively affect relationships, hobbies, and basic self-care.

The idea that people must fill every minute with tasks until they are worn down can be exhausting and unhealthy. In the long run, this can prove ineffective and show a lack of general direction.

Although working hard is important, weighing the pros and cons and prioritizing accordingly is important. Health truly is wealth, after all.

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