How Jay-Z Became the First Billionaire in Hip Hop

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Jay-Z is famous for saying that he’s not a businessman, but he’s a “business, man”.

The rapper has managed to prove that’s the case by becoming one of few people to be a billionaire – and the first person in hip hop to achieve the feat. Jay-Z is building quite the kingdom for himself that continues to expand. As well as being a rapper, Jay-Z has invested in art, liquor, real estate, and even in companies like Uber. He’s not just made money, but he’s been smart with the money he has. Where Jay-Z found himself is even more impressive when you consider the journey that has led him to this point.


Born and raised in the notorious Marcy housing projects of Brooklyn, then Shawn Carter was a drug dealer before becoming the musician we know him as today, starting his own record label Roc-A-Fella Records to make his 1996 debut – Reasonable Doubt. Rechristened as Jay-Z, he went on to release 14 No. 1 albums, win 22 Grammy awards, and amass over $500 million in pretax earnings in under a decade. One of the most important things Jay-Z did was focus on building up his own brands instead of promoting someone else’s. His clothing brand, Rocawear, was started up in 1999 and then sold in 2007 for $204 million. He also pioneered a cognac with Bacardi, called D’Ussé, and launched his own music streaming service Tidal.

“Tidal” Streaming Service is Rising

So how does all that money break down? Well not only does he have a massive $220 million in cash and investments, but he also has a $410 million stake in the aforementioned D’Usse, as well as his Armand de Brignac liquor. Throw in the $100 million from his ownership of Tidal, the $75 million from his company Roc Nation, and his other investments, and it’s easy to see how he became the first hip-hop billionaire – and how it’s so impressive he was able to do it by 50. Some people may believe that Dr. Dre became the first hip-hop billionare when he sold his Beats by Dre to Apple for $3 billion, but Forbes reports that his actual net worth is a little under a billion, sitting at $850 million. He came close, but Jay-Z pipped him at the post. Jay-Z;

Dre Dre & Jay-Z

Billionaire and Community Leader One of the most impressive things about Jay-Z being a billionaire is that he managed to do it while giving back to the community.

He continues to give back as well, donating a substantial amount of money to charitable causes and other causes that are near and dear to his heart. While Jay-Z was criticised for a perceived underwhelming response to the Black Lives Matter movement, he was doing plenty of good behind the scenes. Jay-Z’s friend and activist Dream Hampton revealed that the rapper had bailed out dozens of protestors in Baltimore. Hampton revealed that he had asked Jay-Z if he could donate any money to bail out protestors and that the rapper had sent him thousands of dollars within a matter of minutes. Jay-Z also stepped up to the plate in 2008 following the acquittal of three police officers charged with the death of unarmed black man Sean Bell, who was fatally shot on the day of his wedding. As the outrage among the black community spread, Jay-Z established a trust fund for the man’s two children to ensure they could go to college if they wanted to and that they would be well taken care of. As the first billionaire in hip hop, Jay-Z is nothing short of an inspiration. He truly started from the bottom and made an incredible career for himself. He has inspired a generation of people to believe that anyone, no matter what they look like or where they come from, can make something of themselves.


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