Home » Generating income

Four reasons you should listen to Young Jeezy and Macklemore when they rap about making money

Would you take financial advice from a rapper?

Probably not. Most people would rather talk to a personal finance advisor.

Cool; if that’s is your swagger.

Still, there is much to be said about learning and variety. And there is a lot to be learned about making money, business and success from rappers.

How do I know, you may ask? After all, you wouldn’t expect a middle aged, female, philosophy professor to hit you with quotes by Eminem and Jay-Z; or to know anything about the latest on the Nigerian hip-hop scene?

Well, you may wish to change your expectations. I listen to rap; I’ve listen to it for about fifteen years now. Rap has a steady beat and angry poetry that go well with long distance running.

Rap is also a connection to my teenage son: I introduced him to it and he loves shocking his friends by calling me ‘my swag mother’.

When teaching, I sometimes use references to rap as an aid: a casual reference to Eminem or Young Jeezy gets me the attention that long dead philosophers and living methodologists can’t even begin to compete for.

There is a lot in rap that I disregard. I pay no attention to talk about ‘b*tches’ and crude references to s*x pass me by. As to the swear words, I haven’t got to my age without knowing and using most of them.

This out of the way, let me tell you why I think that rappers have a thing or two to teach us about making money. And I’m not talking about spending it on gold teeth, diamond filling and gold plated cars.

I am talking about net worth; I’m talking about making money.

Not convinced? Here are three messages about making money I took from hip-hop; I could extend the list but there is little point in that. Here we go:

  • ‘Make money, don’t let money make you.’ (Macklemore). This is, I believe, a reference to two things. First, it is a reminder that you need money to live and don’t live to make money. And second, it is a reminder about the importance of action: to make money you need to act rather than obsessing about it.
  • ‘The greats are great because they pain a lot.’ (Macklemore) We tend to pay far too much attention to talent; to the potential with which we were born. I won’t argue this doesn’t matter: if you don’t have a writer’s gift it is likely you’ll never be a truly great writer. By paining a lot, by practicing, you can become a good and successful writer irrespective of how talented you are. I’ve met many people with a lot of talent and little application – they don’t get very far in life.
  • ‘Scared money don’t make no money.’ (Young Jeezy) Any investment, be it in yourself or in something else, carries a risk. It is scary because you can lose. Not reaching beyond this fear doesn’t make money. ‘Scared money’ stays in savings accounts paying below inflation rate interest and loses money.

Do you think these make sense?

Now, let me tell you why you should listen to rappers when they rap about money.

Reason 1: Rappers make a lot of money

How much do you make per year?

Okay, you don’t have to answer this one. I, at my age and career stage, make six figure income (in dollars, I hasten to add). Yep, I have two Masters degrees, couple of PhDs and have been in the academic game for well over twenty years now.

Do you know how long would it take Eminem to make $100,000? No, not even a day; it will take Eminem two songs (between 10 and 15 minutes) to make $132,000.

I like engaging in casual empiricism; so while browsing a site called CelebrityNetworth I found how much the top five rappers charged for a concert in 2012 (there is no information about Birdman, Dr Dre or Diddy):

  • #1 Kanye West – $3 million
  • #1 Jay-Z – $3 million
  • #2 Eminem – $3.3 million for two nights at UK festival ($66k per song)
  • #3 50 Cent – $2 million
  • #4 Rihanna – $800,000
  • #5 Lil Wayne – $500,000

Even the lower paid rappers charge a decent amount for a gig:

  • Tyga – $15,000
  • Yo Gotti – $15,000
  • Shwayze – $15,000
  • Meek Mill – $10,000
  • Mystikal – $10,000

For comparison, a trainee financial advisor can make up to £30,000 ($50,000) per year; a fully qualified advisor will make up to £45,000 ($76,000) and a senior financial advisor can expect to make £60,000 ($101,000) per year.

Now, this is what I’m talking about! When it comes to making money are you going to listen to someone who makes $100,000 per year after years of training and experience or to someone who makes $3 million per gig?

Reason 2: Rappers have a lot of money

What is the image of a rapper?

Gold teeth, diamond fillings and bling, right? There are exceptions but generally hip-hop is an ‘in your face’ culture.

Rappers, notably the absolutely top ones, are not only about the BS, though; they make a lot of money and keep most of it.

Here is a list of the ten wealthiest rappers in 2014:

  • 1. Diddy – Net Worth: $700 million (up $120 million)
  • 2. Jay-Z – Net Worth: $550 million (up $50 million)
  • 3. Dr. Dre – Net Worth: $500 million (up $140 million)
  • 4. Master P – Net Worth: $350 million (no change)
  • 5. 50 Cent – Net Worth: $270 million (up $10 million)
  • 6. Birdman – Net Worth: $170 million (up $20 million)
  • 7. Eminem – Net Worth: $160 million (up $20 million)
  • 8. Ice Cube – Net Worth: $140 million (up $20 million)
  • 9. Lil Wayne – Net Worth: $135 million (up $25 million)
  • 10. Snoop Dogg – Net Worth: $135 million (up $10 million)

Serious wealth, this is!

Reason 3: Rappers invest their money

Rappers make money rapping, true. The wealthiest amongst them, though, make most their money through savvy investments.

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is the wealthiest rapper ever; he is the founder of Bad Boy Records but a relatively small proportion of his wealth comes from music ventures. A lot is from his deal with Ciroc Vodka and owning TV channels (Fuse TV and Revolt TV).

Shawn Corey Carter (Jay-Z) famously said:

“I’m not a businessman – I’m a business, man.”

True. This guy is in every kind of business from fashion and sports agencies to deals with Duracell and Budweiser.

As to Dr. Dre, his most profitable venture is Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.

Would you listen to one of these guys when they rap about starting a business?

Reason 4: Rappers have struggled with money

And the most important part is that these guys are largely self-made. They come from housing projects, they used to hand at corners with their homeboys (and homegirls).

They were just kids with a big dream, a bit of talent and a lot of grit.


Let me ask you again: would you take financial advice from a rapper?

photo credit: darkmatter via photopin cc

7 thoughts on “Four reasons you should listen to Young Jeezy and Macklemore when they rap about making money”

  1. I am willing to listen to anybody! I think I am smart enough to determine what is good and what is not. I am exposed to more ideas this way. It is called open mindedness. I think it is important to be open to new ideas. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.

    • @Krant: That’s the spirit! I only wish all were as open minded as you appear to be (and as a teacher, I hope you give the gift of open mindedness to young people who need it to survive). Most people I’ve mentioned this to, think that I’m beinng ‘funny’; and it is rapidly becoming my test for open and closed mentality.

  2. The first three quotes are excellent and just say the most intricate things in simplest words. Thanks for reminding. 🙂

    1. In the quest of making money we generally forget to live, for which in the first place we have started to work and earn. Yes, I agree we need to draw the line and have a proper balance between money making and spending quality time with our family.

    2. Yes, just having talent doesn’t mean anything. You have to work on it to monetize. Exactly! Can’t agree more.

    3. Yes, we do get scared while investing. But investing is essential to earn more, at least more than inflation. However, uninformed investing should be avoided, I feel, as it’s better to have what I have than losing what I have. So, knowledgeable investment is the most important thing I believe.

    • @Fionna: Welcome to TMP, Fionna, and glad you liked the article. It took me quite a bit of research to write (apart from listening to rap when I run, that is :)). I love these three quotes and have printed them out for my teenage son – young people tend to get the wrong message of all our civilization is making out of ‘talent’ and ‘inspiration’. We shouldn’t forget hard and smart work.

  3. I love this analysis; those rappers (or any artist, for that matter) didn’t make it to where they are by being stupid with money. My brother has always listened to hip hop and rap, and because of that, I was introduced to it when I was quite young, though don’t listen to a ton of it now. I do enjoy their money references though, and that businessman Jay-z quote has always been one of my favourite lines.


Leave a comment