Hip-Hop’s first most popular song that featured rapping, arguably, was the track Rapper’s Delight recorded by Sugarhill Gang in 1979. The song reached #36 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1980. The tune sparked new ideas and created a new approach to music. Since then, artists and MC’s found ways to flourish in and out of the lucrative Hip-Hop business. Rap went from Sugahill Gang’s “…bodyguards, I got two big cars” to Jay-Z’s “black cards, black cars”, “yellow cars, yellow gold like Slick Rick”, temporarily owning a professional basketball team, and hanging out with the president of the United States. To say the least, in the past thirty-five years, Rap has evolved and is very profitable.
Forbes recently released their 2013 edition of “World’s Highest Paid Hip Hop Artists”. Coming in at number one is Diddy ($50 million). At a very close second, of course, is Jay-Z ($43 million), and number three is Dr. Dre ($40 million). These top three earners are all business men with financial investments in almost every industry.
The more impressive matter to note on the 2013 Forbes list are all the new comers, with only a few years in the mainstream Hip-Hop business, that made the top twenty. Wiz Khalifa comes in at number eight with $14 million and Kendrick Lamar coming in at fourteen with $9 million. Kendrick, this summer, filed more performing minutes of any artist in any music genre showcasing his willingess to stay connected to the fans and making his money the old fashioned way;delivering himself and his art to as many fans as possible.
However, success will always have its critics. In Chris Brown’s upcoming October JET magazine interview, he pulls the “race card” for some of Jay-Z’s success. He says,”…there have only been a handful of entertainers that get a ‘pass’ from a so-called white audience for their actions.”(JET)
Despite how you interpret the success of everyone on this Forbes list, one thing is remembered; they all got their true financial start by expressing themselves creatively through the art of music. A wise woman once said, “money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as driver.”