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Jay-Z Is Hip Hop's First Billionaire, Says Forbes

Mary Scott
Jun 05, 2019
06:41 P.M.
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Forbes has officially declared Jay-Z the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire, just as his superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, makes it to the list of America’s richest self-made women.


On Kanye West’s 2005 remix of “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” Jay-Z recites a now famous line: “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!” Turns out, he knew exactly what he was saying.


On Monday, Forbes announced that the rapper “has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so.”

For a kid who grew up in a notorious Brooklyn housing project and once sold drugs, Jay-Z has come a long way

According to the outlet, Jay-Z (birth name Shawn Carter) owes his wealth to the pivotal realization that he should build brands instead of just endorsing for others.


This led to what can today be called the Carter Empire, encompassing interests in entertainment, sports management, fashion, art, real estate, and many more.

Forbes estimation of Jay’s wealth involved adding up his various assets and “subtracting a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle.”


In all, the 49-year-old father-of-three can boast of:

  • A stake in Uber and other cash and investments totaling $220 million
  • Stakes in Armand de Brignac champagne and D'Usse cognac worth a combined $410 million
  • A $100 million stake in his music streaming service Tidal
  • Ownership of the Roc Nation sports and artist management company
  • A $75 million music catalog
  • A $70 million music catalog
  • Real estate worth $50 million

For a kid who grew up in a notorious Brooklyn housing project and once sold drugs, Jay-Z has come a long way.

The 22-time Grammy winner found fame in 1996 with his debut album "Reasonable Doubt" and has since released 12 more solo albums, excluding several collaborative projects.

Jay-Z’s sixth album, 2001's "The Blueprint," was earlier this year added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry as it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," according to CNN.


“It’s bigger than hip-hop. …It’s the blueprint for our culture,” said music producer Swizz Beatz of Jay-Z’s achievement. “A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us.”

If there ever was a power couple, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are it

“If he’s a billionaire now, imagine what he’s about to be,” Swizz continued. “Because he’s only just starting.”


It’s also a double celebration for the Carter family as Beyoncé, 37, comes in at No. 51 on Forbes list of America’s richest self-made women.  The “Crazy In Love” singer, one of six black women on the list, has an estimated net worth of $400 million.

If there ever was a power couple, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are it. The lovebirds tied the knot in 2008 and have since welcomed three children: seven-year-old daughter Blue Ivy and twins Sir and Rumi, who turn two in a few days.