From the Mic to the Board Room: Rappers Turned Entrepreneurs Take Control of Their Financial Destiny

Hip Hop and Rap Artists open businesses beyond the music world and destroy stereotypes about the genre along the way.

Rap is known for its hardcore, aggressive, no-hold-bars style, lyrics, and delivery. While the unapologetic genre holds the hearts of fans around the globe, it still finds itself at the constant center of political controversy and negative stereotypes.

However, a number of successful hip hop and rap artists have taken their success in music and turned it into other profitable business ventures defying long-held clichés about the genre and its offspring.  Long gone are the days where rappers and hip hop artists solely depended on the income from their record labels to stay afloat.  Here are three rappers-turned-entrepreneurs who learned the secrets to staying rich and relevant.

  1.  Dr. Dre
    “Straight Outta Compton” revealed that not only was Dr. Dre a formidable rapper and producer, but he also had a serious entrepreneurial streak.  After successfully guiding the careers of rap and hip hop heavyweights including Snoop Dog, 50 Cent, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, the Doctor recognized the economic power and protection in diversifying his assets.In 2008, Dr. Dre teamed up with longtime friend and former Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman, Jimmy Iovine and Beats by Dre was born. In 2014, Apple, Inc. acquired Beats by Dre for  $3 billion and while the deal did not make Dr. Dre the first hip-hop billionaire as he proclaimed, his net worth did grow to a reported $710 million and moved him into a superior tax bracket.
  2. Rick Ross
    Rick Ross isn’t just making boss moves with his Maybach Music label, the self-proclaimed hustler also expanded his portfolio with a chain of Wing Stop locations.  The rapper decided to invest in the franchise after declaring his love for their lemon pepper chicken wings.Ross now owns 25 franchise locations, continues to grow is monthly revenue by 50%  and has made repeatedly made the Forbes list for Hip-Hop Cash Kings.

  3. Nas
    For three years, the revolutionary rapper has been quietly making mogul moves. Nas and business partner, Anthony Seal founded QueenBridge Venture Partners, LLC (QBVP), a venture capitalist firm that invests in technology startups.The firm has partnered with some of the most popular and profitable companies of today including Dropbox, Pluto.tv and the ride-sharing app Lyft.  Due to the runaway success of many of QBVP’s investments, the firm’s portfolio has grown into the millions.

As rappers and hip-hop artists continue to push financial boundaries and set new trends, it may be only a matter of time before many of them move on from Forbes’ Hip Hop Cash King’s List to Forbes’ World Billionaires List.