Big Pimpin: The Hard-Knocked History of Jay-Z Becoming Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire
Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)
The hard-knock life isn’t as hard when you’re rolling in cash.
To say that Jay-Z is “just a rapper” would be like saying Drake is “just annoying,” even though he is very annoying. The newly-minted billionaire said it best on Kanye West’s “Diamonds Are Forever” when he rapped “I’m not a businessman / I’m a business, man.” In a world of hip-hop where perception rarely meets reality, Jay-Z is “Big Pimpin'” for real.
Shawn Carter has risen from the Brooklyn housing projects to the 1 percent’s corporate high-rises, establishing himself as a global brand while also building an investment portfolio that would make his mentor Warren Buffet proud. Here are some of the entrepreneurial endeavors that have made Jay-Z a rich man.
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Ridin' the Tidal Wave
Jay-Z paid $56 million to acquire the subscription-based music, podcast, and video-streaming service Tidal in 2014. While Tidal rolled out with some heavy-hitters (Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Madonna) committed to its artist-friendly service, it’s been rumored to be treading water but has yet to go under.
He Wrote a Guide to His Life and Lyrics
He wrote Decoded, a mold-breaking autobiography, told mainly through his song lyrics.
Poppin' His Own Bottles
Jay-Z became an investor and then full-owner of Armand de Brignac (a French champagne company) after racist comments made by a Cristal executive inspired him to find and promote a new hip-hop champagne that he refers to as “Ace of Spades” in many of his songs.
40/40 Club is a Win-Win
Hova's upscale sports lounge and restaurant is inspired by New York nightlife and is an ode to his love of sports. It also reportedly nets a profit of $10 million a year.
He's Brooklyn's Finest Fan
Jay-Z bought into the then-New Jersey Nets for $1 million and became the face of the NBA teams rebrand and eventual move to Brooklyn. Although he sold his share of the resurgent franchise in 2013 (he saw a total return of $2.35 million) him and Beyonce are still courtside regulars.
Photo: James Devaney (Getty Images)
Head of Roc Nation
Since its founding in 2008, Roc Nation has grown into the world’s preeminent entertainment company that represents superstars such as Rihanna, Kevin Durant, J. Cole, and Todd Gurley.
He Became Uber-Rich
Jay-Z is rumored to have invested in Uber’s Series A deal in early 2011 when the company was worth around $60 million. It was recently valued at $90 million when it went public in May 2019.
He's an Avid Art Collector
Jay-Z not only raps about artists he admires (Shepard Fairey, Pablo Picasso) but is an avid collector who picked up a print by Jean-Michel Basquiat called "Mecca" for $4.5 million in 2013.