Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Picture: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/AL BELLO
Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Picture: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/AL BELLO

New York — Jay-Z is officially hip-hop’s first billionaire, Forbes declared on Monday, founding his kingdom on entertainment but also reaping earnings from liquor, art and property.

The rapper born Shawn Carter, who grew up in one of Brooklyn’s most notorious housing projects, “has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1bn, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire — and the first hip-hop artist to do so”, the magazine said in a new cover story.

The house that Jay built includes stakes in Armand de Brignac champagne and D’usse cognac — worth $310m and $100m respectively — as well as $220m in cash and investments that includes a stake in Uber worth an estimated $70m.

He also boasts a $75m music catalogue, $75m from the entertainment company Roc Nation and $100m from streaming service Tidal.

In addition to his penthouse in New York’s  Tribeca neighborhood, Jay-Z and his superstar wife Beyoncé own mansions in East Hampton, New York and Los Angeles’s swank Bel Air neighborhood — real estate holdings adding some $50m to the rapper’s name, Forbes said.

In 2017, Forbes said music’s first couple had officially amassed a joint billion-dollar worth.

It had been widely assumed that hip-hop mogul Dr Dre had already achieved billionaire status — especially after he announced as much in 2014 — but according to Forbes’s 2018 ranking his personal wealth is closer to $770m, despite selling his company Beats by Dre to Apple for $3bn.

Fellow rap titan Diddy (Sean John Combs) is worth $825m, according to the same list. He, along with Dr Dre and Jay are not only the wealthiest hip-hop artists, but the richest American musicians of any genre.

Swizz Beatz, the producer behind a number of Jay-Z’s mega-hits, told Forbes that the rapper has created “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 said. “If he’s a billionaire now, imagine what he’s about to be.”

AFP