by G. Brown
“Ni**as In Paris”, “I Hit It First”… You may not love their music, but you have to give some respect for their business acumen.
Hip Hop artists continue to not only saturate our culture, change music history and make rap music as mainstream as rock n’ roll, they’re also branching out to grow businesses, employ communities and build budding empires.
When JayZ rapped about having 99 problems and money won’t one of them, he wasn’t kidding. According to HuffPost, “The rapper and businessman has made history as hip-hop’s first billionaire, according to a new Forbes cover story published on Monday. The magazine conservatively estimates his fortune totals more than $1 billion.”
Forbes says “ it’s clear that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so. Jay-Z’s steadily growing kingdom is expansive, encompassing liquor, art, real estate (homes in Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Tribeca) and stakes in companies like Uber.”
JayZ isn’t the exception, but he seems to be the rule for many rappers and hip hop artists who are living their best lives on stage and walking off stage to head up all types of businesses and investments.
“Incognegro” rapper Ludacris has been in the music game since 1999 dropping nine studios since then. He’s focused more and more energy on acting roles since his ‘Tej Parker’ in the “Fast and Furious” franchise landed him in Hollywood’s fast lane. Still, music has been at heart of Luda’s career and the center of his third gig. He started his own ‘Disturbing the Peace” record label just a few years after getting into recording.
Rapper Nicki Minaj poured some of her “Super Bass” and “Anaconda” millions into Music Messenger. The app is a link sharing platform for music lovers to share some of their favorite songs.
And countless others from Diddy, to RiRi to Kanye to Ice Cube have a hand in everything from fashion to vodka to vitamin water.
Add RayJ to the ranks as the latest hip hop artist adding on titles as investors, owners and business partners. Growing up in the shadow of your much more famous big sister couldn’t have been easy. RayJ’s music career never quite measured up to the success of sister Brandy, but he still charted a few singles. Lately, RayJ has been looking for his Google, Amazon or Facebook and according to TMZ, he may have found it. TMZ says RayJ has “already poured in $5,000,000 to fire up a cannabis company in Cali, and the first rollout will feature pre-rolled joints, dubbed, “Ray Jay’s.” The rapper/actor’s manager says the company will rely on “non-traditional marketing strategies in media, music, and entertainment.”-whatever that means.
Like pro athletes had to learn you’re only on top for so long, sooner or the later the fame game changes. Hip hop artists like athletes aren’t waiting for the final game buzzer or last number one hit before they start planning a second career. They’re using their celebrity and name to launch second, third and multiple streams of income.