Starting in the streets of Brooklyn and building an empire that has surpassed $1 billion in worth, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is the first rapper to amass a billion-dollar fortune, per Forbes.
Since his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt was released via his own Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z has earned 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and a whopping $500 million in pretax earnings.
Other than his own music, Jay-Z has built an empire around him, including streaming service Tidal, D’Ussé (a cognac co-owned with Bacardi), real estate in Los Angeles, Tribeca and the Hamptons, and stakes in major companies like Uber.
Carter’s biggest venture is Armand de Brignac champagne and his $310 million stake in the company. The rapper has been showcasing the $300 bottles since his 2006 video “Show Me What You Got.”
Long-time Jay-Z producer Swizz Beatz believes Jay-Z is a model for young black men. “It’s bigger than hip-hop … it’s the blueprint for our culture. A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us,” he told Forbes.
Coming just under $1 billion, Diddy ($820 million) and Dr. Dre ($770 million) rank second and third out of the wealthiest rappers.