If you’ve ever read Ben Horowitz’s blog, you know his posts often begin with a few lines from a rap song.
Horowitz is a partner at top Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm, Andreessen Horowitz. He’s frequently seen hanging with celebrities like Kanye West and he led an investment in Hip Hop annotation site Rap Genius.
So why is a rich Silicon Valley guy obsessed with rap? It stems from a heart-wrenching story from Horowitz’s childhood, in which a 13-year-old family friend was shot in the face. After the injury, Horowitz’s friend became depressed and pellets left from the gunshot in his brain caused a number of seizures.
“Seth Clark and his family — Joel, Adam, Dana, Joel, and Penny — were my family too,” Horowitz writes. “We lived two houses away from each other. We ate dinner with each other almost every night. We saw each other every day. I went on their family vacations. He was my brother and he was 13 and he was blind for life.”
Horowitz was living in NYC at the time where Hip Hop was exploding. He love that the music embraced life and could be performed without instruments. Horowitz began mailing tapes of the music to Clark, who had stopped talking altogether.
Then Horowitz received a phone call: “”Ben, Seth isn’t talking, but he wants to talk to you about Chuck Chillout and how he remixed something from this guy LL Cool J called, ‘Rock the Bells,'” Horowitz recalls.
Horowitz went home that summer and spent time with Seth. They created their own label, “Blind and Def” and started writing and recording songs. They never got signed, but the music brought his friend out of a dark place and taught him to enjoy life again.