10 Most Business Savvy Rappers and Singers
We’ve all heard the stories about artists making it big and then going broke, turning to reality TV shows and taking other desperate measure to replenish their lost money. However, there are a few music tycoons who found ways to turn a few hit songs into multi-million dollar machines by delving into fashion, cosmetics, technology, television and other industries.
Take a look at music’s 10 Most Business Savvy Rappers and Singers.
Lately, Drake has been making some major, game-changing business moves that will keep him raking in the dough for years to come. As of September, Drizzy pulled in $10.5 million according to Forbes. And he has already started the new year off selling 658,000 copies of his latest effort, ‘Nothing Was the Same’ in the first week and 1,000,000 copies to date. He’s fast becoming a hometown hero for Toronto. His OVO Sound label recently partnered with the city to form the Toronto Music Advisory Committee. In addition, the Toronto Raptors basketball team named October’s Very Own as their global ambassador, which means he’ll work on rebranding the team. And we’re certain his Would You Like A Tour? will push him ahead of the pack in the coming year.
Following in the footsteps of his “daddy” Bryan “Birdman” Williams, Lil Wayne has built his own empire as the founder and president of Young Money Entertainment. The talents he has signed to the label, including Nicki Minaj and Drake, continue to grow as global superstars in their own right. Besides record sales, the part-time skateboarder managed to launch his clothing line TRUKFIT in 2012, selling it online and in Dillard’s department stores nationwide. The rapper recently expanded his TRUKFIT brand to include clothing for young woman. According to Forbes, Weezy is worth $16 million.
As the keeper of all things G.O.O.D. in rap culture, Kanye West continues to delve into the world of fashion and art, expanding his brand. He raked in $20 million, reports Forbes. On the style tip, the ‘Yeezus’ creator collaborated with Nike to release the Air Yeezy II — the kicks goes for as much as $93,000 on eBay — and his “Hip Hop” white T-shirt collaboration with A.P.C., which sold for $120. As he embarks on a new year, Kim K.’s fiancee North West’s dad will finish out 2013 strong with the Yeezus tour. And he still has the mysterious DONDA design agency he heads. We’ll have to wait and see where Yeezy continues to go with his high-end urban streetwear, rants and creative ventures. We’re sure it won’t be predictable.
As the godfather of all things Young Money and Cash Money, Bryan “Birdman” Williams is usally more lowkey, rubbing his hands likely at a business meeting and keeping his successful ventures thriving. As co-founder of Cash Money Records, he is worth $150 million. The rap mogul gives big names such as Busta Rhymes, Bow Wow and Mystikal a second chance by signing them to his label and created a buzz recently with signing Paris Hilton. Whatever his formula, it continues to work more than two decades into founding the lauded label.
Every year Nicki Minaj expands her Barbie nation, which has brought her a sizeable income — more than her boss Lil Wayne in the past year, according to Forbes. With her growing popularity, the rapper has been able to partner with a number of companies to create signature products. In 2012, she created her own MAC VIVA GLAM Nicki lipstick to help raise HIV and AIDS awareness among young people around the globe. She also teamed up with OPI for an array of fun and colorful nail polishes last year. In April, Minaj partnered with Beats Electronics to launch the Pink Pill speaker. In recent months, she became the co-owner of Myx Fusions, a moscato beverage that comes in a small ready-to-drink bottle. Nicki deserves to toast to this success because she is definitely working.
Beats by Dre headphones were one of the biggest products in pop culture in 2012, and that proved great for Dr. Dre with his end-of-year earnings calculating to $110 million before taxes. The Beats by Dre headphones have become a staple for the everyday person to the most notable faces in entertainment and sports. The West Coast producing legend is now expanding his company with business partner Jimmy Iovine to include a streaming music service.
Rihanna learned the fundamentals of business from her musical big brother, Jay Z, and sister, Beyonce. She managed to be an even bigger mainstream star as far as marketability this year. As of June, the Barbadian pop princess has gained $43 million in earnings. In the past year, she released her new album ‘Unapologetic’ and went on a world tour. While the music was pumping, she was also selling Vita Coco drinks in advertisements. She has delved into the world of fashion, presenting her first line in collaboration with River Island during London Fashion week, and her RiRi Woo lipstick products were released in collaboration with MAC Cosmetics. The pop vocalist put out a new men’s fragrance, Rogue, just last month and a female version is soon to come. At 25, any struggling millennial would envy her plush and green bank account.
King Bey makes this getting money thing look so easy, and does it with a million dollar smile. But the Texas-bred, New York resident is a tough CEO behind closed doors and has run her brand since 2011, as she reveals in her HBO documentary, ‘Life Is But A Dream.’ Outside of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which is selling out venues across the globe, Beyonce signed a $50 million mega ambassador deal with Pepsi at the end of 2012. She didn’t even put out an album, but if we add on her beachy H&M summer collection campaign, her new calendar and other tour memorabilia, it’s safe to say Bey is going for the top spot on the list of music’s biggest earners next year. Even if you’re not a fan, you have to bow down to her work ethic.
Where do you begin with Jay Z? The hip-hop entrepreneur started off the year announcing he was creating Roc Nations sports, a sports agency, and began signing some of the hottest up-and-coming talents in the NBA, WNBA and MLB. He sold his stake in the Brooklyn Nets in order to move on with the venture. The rapper also introduced the “new rules” mantra, when he went platinum before his latest album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail,’ was officially released. Jigga sold the opus to Samsung, who offered the project as a free download to select Galaxy S smartphone users a week ahead of its Independence Day release date. We’re not sure when this man sleeps or has time to play with his daughter, Blue Ivy, but we’re sure even in his slumber he’s dreaming of ideas to continue his reign as one of hip-hop’s biggest moguls.
This year, Diddy took the crown as Forbes’ highest-earning Hip-Hop Cash King for the past 12 months. The entertainer and record label executive cashed in $50 million, thanks in part to his popular Ciroc vodka, Bad Boy record label, Sean Jean clothing line and Blue Flame agency. Next year proves to be even bigger and better for Sean Combs as he launches his cable channel, Revolt TV, this fall via Time Warner and Comcast.