Hussle has always been part of rap culture. The rapper entrepreneurs featured in this article are the ones who took their businesses to the next level.
From record labels, to fashion, to drinks, to technology, the world of hip-hop has spawned a handful of multi-millionaires. These savvy investors and CEOs have found success in business that has equalled, and in some cases exceeded their success in music.
Let’s find out more about these rap entrepreneurs and the businesses that made them millions.
Sean Combs, known variously over the years as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and Diddy, is a rapper and entrepreneur who has found quite some success in his business ventures.
The business he is best-known for is his Sean John clothing line.
Combs’ business achievements have not necessarily achieved the same media attention as some of the other rappers on the list, but his portfolio of varied enterprises appear to have set him up pretty nicely.
Under the company Combs Enterprises, Combs has run Sean John, a couple of restaurants named Justin’s, and the Enyce clothing line, which he acquired for $20 million.
He also owns stakes in television network Revolt TV, and drinks company Aquahydrate.
Pharrell Williams is a visionary artist, songwriter, music executive, and fashion entrepreneur.
Williams first rose to success as part of the songwriting duo The Neptunes, who were responsible for a number of hits from Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and others. He went on to release several hits of his own.
Williams founded his own record label, Star Trak in 2002, and went on to found two fashion brands in 2005. Alongside Japanese designer Nigo, he launched Ice Cream, and the wildly successful Billionaire Boys Club.
Today, Billionaire Boys Club is one of the best-loved streetwear brands on the market, along with the likes of Stüssy and Supreme.
Pharrell’s work in the world of fashion has also seen him partner with Uniqlo, Adidas, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.
William James Adams Jr, better known as Will.i.am, is a rapper, producer, media personality, and entrepreneur. He first rose to prominence as the founder and lead member of the Black Eyed Peas.
Finding significant success in the music industry, he went on to produce records for a wide range of artists, including the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and many others.
Since 2013, Adams has been a coach on the UK and Australian series The Voice, making him a highly-recognisable media personality. He was also a panellist on the 2016 show Planet of the Apps.
In the last decade, Adams has become significantly involved in technology, launching his company i.am+ in 2013. The brand is perhaps best-known for the smart ‘cuff’ product, Puls.
Combining fashion and technology, the company website describes i.am+ as “a technology company whose mission is to create technology hits that create a ripple effect across pop culture.”
Andre Romell Young, better known as Dr. Dre, made a name for himself not just as a rapper, but as one of the most influential hip-hop producers and record executives of all time.
A visionary music executive, Dr. Dre played a pivotal role in the success of Eminem, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg, working with them as a producer.
In 1996, he founded Aftermath Entertainment, a subsidiary of Interscope Records. The label has released music from the likes of 50 Cent, The Game, Eminem, Anderson.Paak, and Kendrick Lamar.
But Dre’s most impressive business move was the creation of his Beats By Dre headphones, which made Dr. Dre a household name.
In 2014, Beats was acquired by Apple for $3 billion – Apple’s largest ever acquisition.
Kanye West, today known as Ye, is well-known for his previous business success.
Although recent scandals have wiped hundreds of millions off Ye’s net worth, the visionary artist and entrepreneur has made a number of impressive business moves in his time.
In 2004, Ye founded GOOD Music in conjunction with Sony BMG. Over the years, the label has released music from John Legend, Common, Mos Def, Travis Scott, and many others.
Ye also found significant success with his fashion brand, Yeezy. He collaborated with both Adidas and GAP on Yeezy ranges, however Ye ended his deal with GAP in September 2022, and Adidas terminated their relationship with him in October 2022 following his anti-semitic statements.
Ye is also a part-owner of Tidal (along with several other big artists), as well as the social media platform Parler.
Before Ye’s fall from grace in 2022, his net worth was estimated to be over $1 billion.
50 Cent burst onto the scene in 2003 with his hit song ‘In Da Club.’ The rapper’s subsequent path, including his business ventures, are the stuff of legend.
The wildly driven rapper and entrepreneur made his first business moves as a teenager, selling drugs. After getting shot and nearly killed, he realised he had to move into a different area of business.
50 was discovered by Eminem, and the artist had two Billboard-topping singles with ‘In Da Club’ and ‘21 Questions.’ He has sold over 30 million records to date.
Aside from his successful music career, 50 Cent has invested in a wide variety of business ventures. Some of his most famous include G-Unit clothing – a collaboration between 50 Cent and Ecko – and Glacéau, a beverage company.
Despite being teetotal, 50 also launched a successful vodka brand, Effen Vodka.
50 Cent’s biggest boon was his involvement in the fortified water business, Glacéau. 50 was a fan of Glacéau and bought a stake in the company. The company was subsequently acquired by Coca-Cola, with 50 reportedly netting in excess of $100 million for the deal.
He has published several books, including The 50th Law – a collaboration with Robert Greene, who wrote The 48 Laws of Power.
Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z is well-known as the most financially successful rapper of all time. With a net worth of over $1 billion, Jay has made countless back-to-back smart business moves.
As an artist, Jay-Z’s success is huge. He has sold over 140 million records, and picked up twenty-four Grammy awards. His business achievements are equally impressive.
Jay-Z co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, with the label going on to be one of the most influential rap labels of all time. In 2008, he launched Roc Nation, which, as well as a label, is a talent and management agency that operates across the sports and entertainment industry.
Along the way, Jay-Z set up the hugely successful sports bar chain, 40/40 Club, and the Rocawear clothing brand.
The jewel in Jay-Z’s business crown may be his acquisition of Aspiro AB, the company behind Tidal.
The streaming service, which is part-owned by several major artists, claims to pay higher royalties to its artists than any other streaming platform.
In 2021, Jay-Z sold the majority of his stake in Tidal to Jack Dorsey’s company Square, for around $300 million.
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