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Forbes Names Jay-Z As First Billionaire Rapper

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Jay z billionaire
Getty: Parkwood Entertainment - Larry Busacca

Forbes named Jay-Z as the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire.

In addition to the millions earned from touring and record sales, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is also a businessman.

Forbes calculated the rapper’s massive net worth by simply adding together his most valuable assets and investments.

His alcohol empire alone is worth nearly a half million dollars. Carter’s stake in Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac are worth a combined $410 million. Then he has an additional $220 million in cash and investments, including a $70 million stake in Uber.

In 2010, he launched Tidal, his own streaming service, which is worth roughly $100 million, according to Forbes.

He also has $75 million from his entertainment company Roc Nation, and another $75 million from his record deals. He also has an art collection that is worth roughly $70 million.

Jay-Z is involved in real estate as well, and has made at least $50 million through real estate deals. His properties include a $26 million East Hampton mansion and a $88 million Bel Air estate.

Jay z

Jay-Z during his Glastonbury performance. Photo Credit: Mike Barry, Wikipedia

Humble Beginnings

Jay-Z was born in Brooklyn, New York City and raised in a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.  Carter sold crack in his younger years and says that rivals shot him three times during his drug career.

Jay-Z loved music from an early age and began rapping on the streets when he was a teenager. Neighbors gave him the nickname “Jazzy,” which he modified into the stage-name “Jay-Z.” The rapper’s record company, Roc-A-Fella Records, was started out of his car.

Since his first release, the rapper has achieved 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and over $500 million in earnings.

Friend and producer, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, says that Jay-Z is just getting started.

 “It’s bigger than hip-hop … it’s the blueprint for our culture. A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us. If he’s a billionaire now, imagine what he’s about to be, because he’s only just starting,” Swizz Beatz says.

Dr. Dre’s Fortune

Many people expected NWA’s Dr. Dre to be the first hip-hop billionaire, after his $3.2-billion deal with Apple for Beats Electronics.

However, Dre was just shy of a billion dollars, with a net worth of $800 million after receiving his cut. After Dre sealed the deal with Apple, he posted a video online proclaiming himself as the first hip-hop billionaire. Dre looked drunk in the video, as many of his fans pointed out, but who can blame him for celebrating?

Unfortunately, Forbes quickly corrected Dre to inform him that he miscalculated his own fortune. Many fans were not aware that investors Jimmy Iovine and Len Blavatnik owned a large stake in the company.

At the time, Dre was still the richest artist in hip-hop with his $800 million.

Beyonce Jay z

Jay-Z and Beyoncé performing “Crazy in Love” on November 15, 2009. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Power Couple

Jay-Z is also married to a woman who is extremely wealthy on her own as well. His wife, the pop-star Beyoncé, has an estimated net worth of $500 million. Beyoncé could very well become a billionaire through her own assets in the coming years.

TIME magazine listed Beyoncé and Jay-Z as the most powerful couple for the magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood’s top earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They have come a very long way in just ten years time.

On November 16, 2010, Jay-Z published a memoir entitled Decoded, but it may be time for him to write another.

Black Billionaires

With the new announcement from Forbes, Jay-Z now joins the short list of black billionaires in the United States.

The richest African American is Robert F. Smith, the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners. Vista Equity is an investment firm that has made Smith a total of roughly $5 billion. In May, Smith made headlines by donating $40 million to pay off student loans for an entire graduating class.

Talk show host and entertainer Oprah Winfrey is also on the list with a massive net worth of $2.5 billion. Basketball superstar Michael Jordan is not far behind Oprah, with a net worth of $1.9 billion.

Michelle Williams was born in New York City, and began to take an interest in journalism as the editor of her high school newspaper. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in journalism, Williams moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a copy editor for a large television production firm.  While working as a copy editor, Williams began developing contacts in the entertainment industry, which helped her land a job with the neighborhood culture magazine LA Beat. As the internet began to replace traditional media, the LA Beat eventually went out of business along with most free neighborhood culture magazines, so Williams turned to blogging sites like Medium, where she was able to continue her work.

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