It’s Official: JAY-Z Is Hip-Hop’s 1st Billionaire

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Twelve years ago, JAY-Z projected that he would “see about a billion” in a guest verse on Freeway’s “Roc-A-Fella Billionaires.” At the time, the head of Def Jam Records was speculating on the maturation of his real estate portfolio and other assets. In 2019, Forbes reports that the net worth of Shawn Carter is “conservatively” at $1 billion. By this count, JAY-Z becomes the first Hip-Hop artist to reach this milestone, in a longstanding race that involved Dr. Dre and Puff Daddy.

Forbes‘ Zack O’Malley Greenburg accounts that Jay has amassed $500 million in pre-tax earnings over the last decade. The estimate also mentions Rocawear’s $204 million sale to Iconix in 2007, and points to significant stakes in Tidal, D’Ussé cognac, and Armand de Brignac champagne.

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In particular, the report accounts for more than $300 million in the “Ace Of Spades” bubbly, $70 million in value from a 2013 investment in Uber, and $100 million from D’Ussé, which has grown nearly 80% annually. In addition to eight and nine-figure draws from Roc Nation and Tidal, respectively, the report estimates that Hov’s music catalog is worth $75 million. Jay famously negotiated to own almost all of his master recordings and publishing in a solo Rap recording career that dates back nearly 25 years.

Moreover, Jay has an eye for value. The creator of 2013’s “Picasso Baby” has an art collection that Forbes estimates at $70 million. That art is valued $20 million more than the real estate of Jay (and wife Beyoncé), which has properties in Manhattan, Bel Air, and Long Island’s East Hampton. This climb comes from Forbes‘ early 2018’s estimate of Jay’s net worth at $900 million. At the time, that was $75 million above friend and collaborator, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs.

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In May of 2014, Dr. Dre (who has worked with JAY-Z) anointed himself “the first billionaire in Hip-Hop” following Apple’s acquisition of Beats. However, in 2015, Forbes’ Zack O’Malley Greenburg reported why that statement was not factual. Instead, they estimated Andre Young to be at approximately $700 million. Dre later expressed regret for the 2014 video, which singer/actor Tyrese posted online, igniting the news cycle.

Two years ago this month, JAY-Z’s 4:44 admitted some of that investment ethos and admitted past money mismanagement. However, by this count, no one can knock the hustle of Shawn Carter.