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In hip hop, one of the most popular topics is money. From boasting about one’s ability to spend it or lamenting about having a lack thereof, money has always been a major talking point among rap artists. While most rappers view money as a means to an end and waste it frivolously, there are a handful of rappers who have taken it upon themselves to teach youths about the importance of making sound decisions with their income and planning ahead for a rainy day.
In celebration of Financial Literacy Month, REVOLT highlights seven legendary rap artists who promote the importance of staying on top of your coins.
The hustler-turned-entrepreneur is a common backstory among rap artists today. But, during the late ’80s, Eazy-E was the first to put his money where his mouth was. Using proceeds accrued during his tenure in the dope game, Eazy founded Ruthless Records, which housed his group N.W.A. and became one of the most successful record labels in rap. While his rhymes were nihilistic and oft-times obscene, they were always peppered with the knowledge of a financial wiz who parlayed a minor investment into a massive empire.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s rhyme skills are well-known. But, one aspect of the late Brooklyn don’s life that gets overlooked is his promotion of financial literacy. From boasting about having an accountant to stashing away money for the benefit of his kids’ futures, a number of Biggie’s lyrics were spat from the perspective of someone who knew the true value of keeping your finances in order.
One figure in rap history who can be credited with ushering in an era where rap stars focused their minds on the money is Master P, who helped revolutionize what a rap mogul and CEO was supposed to be. Flipping an inheritance into the start-up money for No Limit Records, P set a precedent by having the wits to grow his business independently and later sign a massive distribution deal. Taking his game to Hollywood, the clothing industry and beyond, Master P is the embodiment of black ownership and an example of making your money work for you.
Ever since the release of Reasonable Doubt, JAY-Z has presented himself as more than a mere hustler, but a callous businessman. Betting on himself as a co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, the pride of the Marcy housing projects has preached financial literacy for the entirety of his career. Whether through gems dropped in his lyrics, or through the business partnerships and acquisitions that have brought him to the brink of being a bonafide billionaire, Hov has preached mindful spending and growing your net worth one calculated move at a time.
Known as the man who once boasted “don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks,” Sean “Diddy” Combs has always had a keen awareness of the importance of having your fiscal matters in order. One of the first rap moguls to branch off into various corners of the entertainment industry, Combs has made it a habit to make smart investments; and put his genius behind brands like Sean John, Ciroc, Justins, and other profitable ventures. In what may be the biggest move of them all, Diddy took his game to another level with the launch of REVOLT TV. The game spit in his music about balancing funds, preparing the next generation of moguls, the opening of his Capital Preparatory Schools, and his fervent testimonials about financial literacy all add up to his inclusion on this list.
To be the boss, you have to pay the cost, which is a maxim that rapper Rick Ross has sworn by throughout his career. Following in the footsteps of other hustlers out of the south, Rozay has used his standing within the rap game to branch off into other endeavors — quietly building a business portfolio that is impressive. Having acquired stakes in several Checkers and Rally’s franchises, as well as Wingstop, the MMG CEO has never shied away from his ability to make a dollar multiply. On the surface, his music is geared toward the hustler and those living an opulent lifestyle. But, if you dig deeper between the lines, there is a lot of game to be gleaned on the ins and outs of financial literacy and independence.
In addition to being revered for the quality of his music, the late great Nipsey Hussle was also praised for his business acumen, which the rapper always put on full display. Living by the mantra “all money in,” the South Central L.A. native always put forth a message preaching financial prosperity. Opening his flagship The Marathon Clothing store on the very streets he hustled on; as well as launching Vector90 — an inner-city co-working space focused on developing the next generation of entrepreneurs — these were just a few of his moves that proved Hussle truly lived up to his last name.
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