Do Rappers Exaggerate Their Wealth?

Rapper Jay-Z. (Photo: Matthew Harrison)

In his new album, rapper Jay-Z expresses skepticism about some of his colleagues’ claims of extraordinary wealth, saying, “The truth in my verses, versus, your metaphors about what your net worth is.”  So are your favorite rappers lying about how rich they are?  Bloomberg Businessweek straightens out the confusion with a great graphic comparing alleged vs. actual wealth.  Here’s a preview: Nicki Minaj is not “mak[ing] a billi like a big goat.” (HT: The Big Picture)

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  1. cgjane says:

    this is skewed. most of the “little” ones (not dre, diddy, or jayz) have friends/family/off the books income.

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  2. pawnman says:

    As several commenters on the graphic already noted, one year’s income from album sales is not a person’s net worth. 50 cent, for example, has a multi-million dollar contract with Vitamin Water.

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    • Jeff says:

      I love the quote from the “Forbes 5″ article, in response to the news that his net worth was about $100M in 2013: “Oh, you want me to tell you an exact number?” he said with a grin. “I’ve got way more.” Hello… IRS?

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    • clint3000 says:

      good point pawnman. 50 cent actually was compensated in equity for his promotion of Vitamin water and ended up with a windfall payout when the brand was sold to Coca-Cola. Same deal with Dr. Dre and his Beats Audio company, Jay Z and his sports agency, P-Ditty and his Sean Jean line of clothing. Lots of these guys are looking at themselve as a diversified brand rather than just an entertainer…very Donald Trump like in a way

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  3. Julio says:

    I don’t understand why the net earnings from one year are compared to how much they say they’re worth, in some cases. According to Forbes, in a list released this last March, 50 Cent is worth 125 million. Why they included the earnings from just one year is beyond me. Very inconsistent.

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    • James says:

      In addition to income, you also have to consider outgo. I know little about the lives of those who successfully perpetrate rap, but we have many parallel examples of sports stars who earn multiple millions for a few years, spend it all, and wind up nearly broke after their playing days are over.

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  4. Lauren lauren says:

    I think a far more interesting phenomenon is their attitude towards wealth. Old money NEVER talks about money and certainly doesn’t seek to make people envy their wealth with flashiness and bragging, ESPECIALLY not to thug types known to tote guns! Will be interesting to see how the original rappers season into understatedness at some point. Well, one would hope.

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    • chris says:

      While I agree that rappers need to shut up about their wealth, whoa re you kidding that “Old money NEVER talks about money and certainly doesn’t seek to make people envy their wealth with flashiness and bragging?”

      Have you seen the cars they drive, the houses they live in, the county clubs and their elitist attitude?

      And don’t even get me going on the old money that is royalty…

      I’m no liberal hippy who believes in redistribution of wealth, but if you really think that old money doesn’t flaunt it, then you are oblivious to the obvious or you are old money…

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    • pawnman says:

      I don’t really care what they rap about…mostly because I don’t listen to rap.

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  5. J1 says:

    There are some obviously smart rappers who, as Clint noted, operate more as a brand than a performer, but I suspect most rappers (and many other performers/celebrities) have no idea what their net worth is. To the extent there is one, the issue is more ignorance than exaggeration.

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    • chris says:

      Or maybe not ignorance at all. Maybe these are just lyrics meant to create an interesting song.

      One of my students is a rapper in the making. He sings about bringing in the g’s, being rich, ect. He works a barely above minimum wage job to pay his way through college. He is well aware he is not exactly wealthy, but when I asked him, he told me its about the lyrics, what rhymes, the flow of the song, not an actual bank statement.

      For the record, I still don’t like rap.

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      • J1 says:

        There’s a difference between a min wage college student doing this for fun and someone who does it for a living. That at least some performers (not just rappers) have a tough time managing their money or finding someone to do so honestly is well documented. It’s entirely possible the rappers mentioned really do believe they’re much wealthier than they are, and someone straightening them out about that would do them a world of good.

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  6. achewon87 says:

    “I got lawyers watching lawyers so I don’t go broke”

    It’s rap music emcees have been bragging about how much more everything they have than the next emcee…it’s just posturing.

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