On June 3, Forbes reported that Jay-Z is now hip-hop’s first billionaire.
Rapper Jay-Z, whose legal name is Shawn Corey Carter, has released over a dozen studio albums since his first release Reasonable Doubt in 1996. Jay-Z’s smooth style and clever raps have earned him 22 Grammy Awards and a slew of other trophies from Billboard, ASCAP, BET, and other organizations. In addition to his substantial rap discography, Jay-Z is also a producer, entrepreneur, and investor.
Rather than promoting products and brands belonging to other people, Jay-Z has found great success as an entrepreneur starting brands of his own. The rapper started his own clothing line Rocawear in 1999 and sold it in 2007 to Iconix for $204 million. He also co-owns D’Ussé cognac with Bacardi, and co-owns the music streaming service Tidal along with an array of other successful musicians.
Jay-Z’s incredible wealth is especially impressive due to the hip-hop mogul’s humble beginnings. Jay was born in Brooklyn where he grew up in the rough Marcy housing projects. Before becoming a rap star, he worked as a drug dealer and started his own label Roc-A-Fella Records to release his first album. So how did Jay-Z build his billion dollar net worth?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jay-Z’s Music Catalogue Is Worth $75 Million
Forbes reports that Jay-Z’s music catalog is worth $75 million. When Jay-Z signed on as president of Def Jam in 2004, he made the eventual return of his masters part of the deal. Although he left Def Jam in 2007, he has held his masters from that label since 2014.
In a separate deal with EMI, Jay-Z negotiated his publishing rights back from EMI. Holding his own masters entitles Jay-Z to a larger percentage of royalties from every record or download he sells, and owning his publishing rights also grants him a larger portion of the money earned when his songs are used as samples or in TV and film projects.
Jay-Z is also part-owner of Tidal, a streaming music company founded with the mission to pay artists more per stream. Digital Music News reported that Tidal paid artists $0.0125 per stream in 2018, compared to Spotify which paid $0.00437 per stream. Forbes reports that Jay-Z’s hits can easily reach 1 billion streams a year.
He also owns Roc Nation, an entertainment company with clients like Rihanna, Shakira, J. Cole, and Big Sean on the artist management side. Roc Nation handles athletes as well, representing Andre Ward, Kevin Durant, and other top athletes in their Roc Nation Sports Division.
While other artists have famously sold millions of records but been left with very little in the bank, Jay-Z has been careful to get paid as much as he can from his work. His attention to masters, publishing rights, streaming, and artist management have made him an undeniable music mogul.
2. He Owns a Luxury Champagne Brand Worth $310 Million
Cristal was once the champagne of choice for rappers, but after Cristal’s parent company’s manager Frederic Rouzaud turned his nose up at hip-hop in 2006, Forbes reports that Jay-Z moved on to a new bubbly. Jay-Z immediately stopped rapping about and buying Cristal and was soon seen with gold bottles of Armand de Brignac in his “Show Me What You Got” video.
Also known as Ace of Spaces, Armand de Brignac retails at $300 per bottle. Jay-Z bought stakes in the company, and in 2014 bought out all shares of Armand de Brignac. The brand is currently valued at $310 million.
Jay-Z also co-owns the cognac D’Ussé with Bacardi, a brand that Forbes estimates is worth $100 million. D’Ussé has grown 80% in the past year, an increase that the company attributes to Jay-Z’s influence.
3. Jay-Z Owns Real Estate Worth Over $50 Million
Another large portion of Jay-Z’s billion dollar net worth is invested in real estate. According to the latest Forbes report, Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé bought two incredible properties in 2017. The couple purchased an East Hamptons mansion worth $26 million and an estate in Bel Air worth $88 million. Jay-Z also owns a $6.85 million penthouse in Tribeca, one of New York City’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
In addition to his real estate holdings, Jay-Z owns an investment portfolio with an estimated value of $220 million. He owns stock in Uber and is highly invested in his own companies as well.
4. He Reportedly Spent $250,000 at a Nightclub for His ‘Watch the Throne’ Listening Party
Hello Magazine reports that in 2011 Jay-Z racked up a $250,000 tab hosting a listening party for his joint album with Kanye West Watch the Throne. They report that the bar brought him a magnum of Ace of Spades at the party to celebrate the club’s biggest bill of all time.
According to Hello Magazine, Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé spend lavishly on their lifestyle, travel, and children. They report that the couple spent $200,000 on their daughter Blue Ivy’s first birthday party, with $95,000 of that spent on flowers alone. He reportedly spent $1 million on a 1959 Rolls Royce for Beyoncé’s birthday.
5. Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation Has Given Out Over $4 Million in Scholarship Funds to Low-Income Students
Jay-Z isn’t just a business-savvy mogul with expensive tastes. He also uses his considerable bank account to give back. In 2003, he founded the Shawn Carter Foundation, and through this foundation, he’s given over $4 million in scholarship, study abroad, and college prep funds to disadvantaged students.
The rapper also supports causes like Black Lives Matter, and in 2015 he reportedly bailed out protesters who were arrested in Baltimore demonstrating against police brutality. Bail for the Baltimore protestors was tens of thousands of dollars, according to the source.
In 2008, the New York Times reports Jay-Z set up a trust fund to help the children of an unarmed black man who was shot by police. The fund is for an unspecified amount, but it should be enough to allow both children to pay for college.