From the earliest days of hip hop, we've seen the talent of musicians carry them from the block to the booth. But what we didn't count on seeing was those artists learning and harnessing the real secret to wealth - multiple streams of income, which happens to be a feat that many attempt but never successfully maintain.
We're not talking about being featured on popular artists' songs or taking small roles on the big and small screens, but true diversity in one's career. The following five rappers have successfully managed to grow their own money trees by planting seeds in the fashion, film, television, and beverage industries.
A legendary rapper in his own right, Dr. Dre has solidified his status in hip hop with six Grammy Awards and the founding of Death Row Records and Aftermath Entertainment. However, his knack for discovering and honing unique sound extends into his most recent venture, Beats Electronics. Founded by Dr. Dre in July 2008, Beats Electronics was bid on in May 2014 by Apple Inc. for a reported $3 billion, which is set to make Dr. Dre the "Richest Man in Hip Hop."
Consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers of all time with three groundbreaking albums, Jay Z has evolved into a true renaissance man. Not only was Jay Z the president of Def Jam Recordings, but he co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records and founded Roc Nation. Jay Z's interests led him to pursue business beyond the music industry, and he soon found himself involved in both fashion and sports. He founded the clothing line Rocawear in 1999 and sports management agency Roc Nation Sports in 2013. Seeking to further his career in sports, Jay Z became a certified NBA and MLB agent, and co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. He also co-owns the 40/40 club and released a fragrance titled Gold.
A man of many names, Sean Combs has left his mark on the world as a man of impeccable skill as a businessman and producer. Not only did Diddy sign The Notorious B.I.G., but he founded Bad Boy Records and has been certified platinum on multiple albums of his own. Diddy went on to become the founder of the clothing line Sean John in 1998, and the face of Ciroc vodka in 2007. He owns a restaurant named Justin's and acquired the Enyce clothing brand as of 2008. Diddy has also left a strong impression in reality television with the shows Making the Band on MTV and I Want to Work for Diddy on Vh1.
With his own struggle to fame immortalized in the autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin, 50 Cent went from selling a 9-times platinum album to founding both G-Unit Records and G-Unit Films. He continued to make sound business investments first and foremost with the beverage Vitamin Water, which he ultimately sold to Coca Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007. Most recently he has begun investing in his own headphones under the name SMS Audio, and executive produced the new television series titled Power on STARZ.
One of the most famous female rappers to date, Nicki Minaj's musical success quickly propelled her onto the fashion scene. Her earliest ventures were the fragrances Pink Friday and Minajesty, and now The Nicki Minaj Collection, sold exclusively at Kmart, serves as the face of her retail endeavors. In addition to this, she has scored major endorsement deals with MAC Cosmetics, OPI Products, and Pepsi. She's also released her very own Barbie doll by Mattel, which she sold for $15,000 for charity in December 2011. Her latest feat has been in the beverage industry, where she aims to distribute her own Myx Fusions moscato throughout the United States.
These business ventures have not only proven to be the key to career longevity and success for these select artists, but they also serve as inspiration for our youth today as many aim to enter entrepreneurship. From celebrities starting their own brands, like Draya Michele's Mint Swim and Fine Ass Girls, to local brands such as Paint Me Gold and Mad Paper, young adults today are aiming to make a dime on their own time.
This is extremely important given the present economic downturn when many college graduates are unable to find full-time employment, which is especially disproportionate for African-Americans. Creating one's own stream of income can mean the difference between coming home with or without the lights on. Millennials could stand to learn a little creativity, perseverance, and professionalism. The abilities to envision a great product or service, to find the correct tactics to reach your target audience and close sales, and to deliver something of great quality within financial and legal reason make a great businessperson; and great businesspeople are rarely without success.