Jay-Z is officially the first billionaire rapper in the world with a net worth of $1 billion, Forbes declared on Monday. He is reported to have built his empire on record labels, music stream, liquor, art, real estates and stakes in companies like Uber.
According to the US magazine, one of the factors that led to his financial stardom was his decision to make his own brand instead of endorsing other clothing lines. In 1999, he launched 'Rocawear' that was later sold to Iconix in 2007 for $204 million. His investment in a wide range of companies such as D'Ussé, a cognac that he co-owns with Bacardi, 'Tidal', a music-streaming service, validate his widely quoted expression, "I'm not a businessman. I'm a business, man."
Being the first hip-hop artist to be included in the illustrious list, the ride to the top is impressive because it started all the way from the bottom. Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, grew up in one of New York City's most notorious areas.
Known to be a drug dealer before becoming a musician, he started his own label, 'Roc-A-Fella Records' and released his debut, 'Reasonable Doubt' in 1996. Since then, the rapper has collected more than 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and over $500 million in pretax earnings in a decade.
Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean, the producer behind some of Jay-Z's biggest hits ("On To The Next One,"), told Forbes that Jay-Z's achievement is "bigger than hip-hop".
"A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us" he said.
Calling it "the blueprint for our culture' he further added: "If he's a billionaire now, imagine what he's about to be. Because he's only just starting."
Forbes calculated his wealth by adding the artist's stakes on companies and subtracting a "healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle".
His assets include:
1. Alcoholic beverages
His stake in brands like Armand de Brignac champagne and D'Ussé cognac amount to a whopping $410 million.
2. Cash & investments
His vast investment portfolio includes a stake in Uber worth an estimated $70 million, making the hip-hop artist's total cash and investments worth an estimated $220 million
3. Music Streaming
Jay-Z acquired Tidal from Norwegian media technology company Aspiro for $56 million in 2015. As per the magazine, he makes $100 million in stakes from the music streaming site.
4. Music Catalog
According to Forbes, when Jay-Z signed on to become record label Def Jam's president in 2004, he had negotiated the return of his masters (publishing rights, royalty of 10-15% on music sales). With his streams clocking close to 1 billion streams annually, Jay-Z makes $75 million.
5. Entertainment company
His entertainment company Roc Nation, worth $75 million, represents top sports stars such as Kevin Durant, Todd Gurley to artist giants like Rihanna and J. Cole.
6. Art collection
The value of his art collection is estimated to be at $70 million. His collection includes Jean Michel Basquiat's "Mecca," purchased in 2013 for a reported $4.5 million.
7. Real estate
The magazine estimated that he owns real estate properties in upscale New York and Los Angeles that is worth $50 million. His property list includes the twin $26 million East Hampton mansions, a $88 million Bel Air estate he bought with his wife Beyonce as well as a Tribeca penthouse bought for $6.8 million.
With Beyonce reportedly worth about $335 million, the couple has had a joint net worth over $1bn for several years
While rumours had it that Dr Dre had reached billionaire status after selling his Beats headphone business to Apple in 2014, last year Forbes put his personal wealth at about $770 million.
In 2010, Jay-Z appeared on Forbes' cover along with another billionaire, Warren Buffet, who is 40 years his senior. The magazine stated that Buffet was impressed by the rapper 10 years ago. "Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I'll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he's the guy to learn from" he was reported to have said.