JAY-Z Is the First Hip-Hop Artist to Become a Billionaire: Inside His Fortune

Brianne Tracy
JAY-Z Is the First Hip-Hop Artist to Become a Billionaire: Inside His Fortune

When JAY-Z rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” on Kanye West’s 2005 track “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” he really meant it.

According to a new report released by Forbes on Monday, the rapper turned mogul has become the first hip-hop artist to amass a billion-dollar fortune with his impressive investments across liquor, art, real estate and companies like Uber.

Before becoming a musician, JAY-Z, 49, was a drug dealer in his hometown of Brooklyn. In 1996, he started his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Since then, he has earned 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy wins and a reported $500 million in pretax earnings, according to the outlet.

In order to calculate JAY-Z’s net worth, Forbes says they first looked at his stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne (which he owns 100% of) and applied their customary discount to private firms. They then added up his income and subtracted “a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle.” Additionally, they say they ran the numbers with a roster of outside experts to ensure that the estimates were “fair and conservative.”

Since its launch in 2006 in JAY-Z’s music video for “Show Me What You Got,” Armand de Brignac is estimated by Forbes to now be worth $310 million. JAY-Z’s cognac D’Ussé, which is a joint venture with Bacardi, is estimated to be worth $100 million.

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JAY-Z is also estimated to have $220 million in cash and investments, including a stake in ride-share service Uber which is estimated to be worth $70 million itself.

JAY-Z’s music-streaming service Tidal — which launched in 2015 with a number of celebrity investors including his wife, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Calvin Harris — is estimated to be worth $100 million.

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Roc Nation, which JAY-Z started over a decade ago as a joint venture with Live Nation and counts Rihanna and J. Cole among its roster of talent, is estimated to be worth $75 million. Additionally, JAY-Z’s own music catalog is estimated to be worth $75 million.

For over a decade, JAY-Z has been scooping up masterpieces like artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Mecca,” which he purchased in 2013 for a reported $4.5 million. Forbes now estimates JAY-Z’s art collection to be worth $70 million.

JAY-Z’s portfolio also includes an estimated $50 million in real estate. After welcoming their twins — Rumi and Sir — in June 2017, JAY-Z and Beyoncé bought a $26 million East Hampton mansion and an $88 million Bel Air estate. JAY-Z also owns a penthouse in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, which he reportedly bought for $6.85 million in 2004.