Rapper Jay-Z is the kind of guy that impresses people like billionaire Warren Buffet. The pair got to know each other over strawberry malts a decade ago. One of the things that most captured Buffet’s attention was Jay-Z’s plans for the future. That future is here, with Jay-Z claiming the title of being the first billionaire rapper.
“Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational,” explains Jay-Z. For Jay-Z, those aspirations saw him achieving success in hip-hop and then expanding into other areas, including liquor, art, real estate, and investing in companies such as Uber. And those interest led Jay-Z to accumulate a fortune that is conservatively worth USD$1 billion. Not bad for someone who started as a drug dealer in Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy housing projects.
Of course, Jay-Z didn’t stick with that original career choice. Instead, he started his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and launched a career as a musician. During that career, he has had 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards, and over USD$500 million in pretax earnings.
Always the independent type, Jay-Z didn’t want to promote other brands when he could just build his own. So he created Rocawear, a clothing line, D’Usse, a cognac he partnered with Bacardi on, and Tidal, a music-streaming service. Jay-Z also brought other entertainers and athletes under his wing with Roc Nation, a joint venture with Live Nation that represents top stars in entertainment and sports, including Keven Durant, Todd Gurley, Rihanna, and J. Cole.
Part of his net worth includes his art collection, which includes masterpieces like Basquiat’s “Mecca”—reportedly bought for USD$4.5 million. Real estate also plays a big part of his portfolio, with a $26 million mansion in East Hampton, an $88 million estate in Bel Air, and a $6.85 million penthouse in Tribeca.
“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 was above us,” notes producer Kasseem “Swizz Beats” Dean, who produced some of Jay-Z’s biggest hits. “If he’s a billionaire now, imagine what he’s about to be, because he’s only just starting.”