Money, babes, cars, and mansions – these are all the sorts of things we hear when we turn on our favorite rap radio station. It’s no secret that rappers love to flex about their successes (it pretty much defines the genre), but hidden behind that six-car garage and enormous, walk-in sneaker closet are the brilliant businessmen who hustled to make millions off their art. That’s no easy feat, and it shouldn’t be surprising that most of our favorite rap artists know a thing or two about personal finances.
Whether it’s hidden in a Jay-Z lyric or blasted out over social media, these rap moguls give us awesome financial advice.
“Call me doberman, ’cause I’m a pincher of pennies.” – Common
Saving money is always a good thing. Just because you’ve got a ton of money, doesn’t mean you should wildly spend it all. Nothing says future financial success like fiscal responsibility.
“In anticipation, for precipitation, stack chips for the rainy day.” – Rihanna
Rihanna has always been a tough-as-nails baller, but she’s also a financially responsible adult. Back when she recorded her breakthrough single “Umbrella,” Rihanna was just a wise 18-year-old under Jay-Z’s wing. What happens when you’re a rap mogul’s protégée? You get some great advice. In this verse, Rihanna is clearly channeling Jay-Z’s money smarts and telling us all to save up because bad things happen. When it rains, it pours – and we’re going to need to buy an umbrella (or a replacement part for our car or a doctor’s visit). The best way to protect yourself from unexpected expenses is to have a solid savings.
“Hold off on all the jewelry and the cars. Straight up.” – Yung Joc
In 2006, Yung Joc was named one of Forbes‘ 20 richest hip-hop artists, but the reason he’s so rich isn’t just because of his talent. He’s a smart spender. The rapper spoke in an interview about saving money, and how young artists in the volatile entertainment industry shouldn’t blow through their cash just because they can.
“Hold off on all the jewelry and the cars. Straight up … (the rap business is) not a 9-to-5. You go to work for 40 hours a week, you’re not going to get the same amount of money … every week because it don’t work like that,” he said.
This isn’t just sound advice for musicians, but it’s sound advice for anyone who freelances, runs their own business or works in a tip and commission-based field.
“Diversify your millions. You can live off the interest.” – Xzibit
So what if Xzibit is constantly running into problems with the law? You may not want his legal advice, but you can’t deny that X has managed to have a long, successful career thanks to very diverse sources of income. While Xzibit was likely talking about spreading out your investments over numerous assets in his song “Everything,” it’s no secret that the star has a rather diverse portfolio. Xzibit made a small fortune starring in the MTV reality series Pimp My Ride in addition to having a number of Billboard-charting albums. He even played himself in a couple of video games.
“Seems like the more money we come across the more problems we see.” – Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie’s iconic song “Mo Money, Mo Problems” is only getting us ready for our future of financial success. It’s true: the more money your business has, the more problems you’ve got. There’s more staff to pay, higher tax rates, bigger mortgages, more pressure, more fake friends and more haters. When you’re poor, there’s none of that. While these problems are ones most of us would willingly take on for boatloads of dolla bills, you’ve got to be smart when it comes to your cash. Use caution and smarts when you invest and be wary of people trying to leech off your success.
“Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” – Jay-Z
In the song “Reminder” from his 2009 album The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z makes a call for financial freedom:“Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” The song heavily focuses on the idea that people are unpredictable but success is not (he’s got like a zillion hit albums, right?). In order to be fully control of your life, you need to be financially in control. Don’t rely on a partner and don’t be concerned about what people say it (anyone can talk trash, but not just anyone can grow a business from the ground up). Get a job, make money and the rest doesn’t matter.
“I used to think that if I bought stuff that showed the world how much money I made I’d be happy. But that doesn’t work.” – 50 Cent
Money doesn’t make us happy, it just makes our lives a little bit easier. In an interview with the Daily Mail, 50 Cent spoke about how his previous idea of financial success was kind of a waste.
“I used to think that if I bought stuff that showed the world how much money I made I’d be happy. But that doesn’t work,” he said. “For me, success was always going to be a Lamborghini. But now I’ve got it, it just sits on my drive. My Rolls-Royce has less than nine miles on the clock.” Basically, you’re better off investing your money in something that will grow your financial worth or help you reach a future goal than in something materialistic.
“Anybody with some money should invest now.” – Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is telling all her young hustlers to invest their hard-earned cash in her single “Blazin’.” Is this sound advice? Absolutely. Many people think that investing is pretty far off unless they’re making senior-level salaries. It’s completely a myth that you need a lot of money to start building an investment portfolio. While you won’t make as much if you don’t have stacks of cash to put into your investments, you also won’t lose that much either (less money, less problems, right?). Investing is a great way to grow your assets in the long-term.
“Promise me you’ll invest three fourths of it all.” – Andre 3000
In Outcast’s single “Hollywood Divorce” (featuring Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne), the eccentric front man sings “Promise me you gon’ stack. Promise me you gon’ ball. Promise me you’ll invest three fourths of it all.” Honestly, this is pretty sound advice – save some, spend some on yourself and invest the rest. Admittedly, Andre may be a little spend-happy with his investment advice, but it’s well intentioned. It’s far more realistic to invest 10% of your income. Experts suggest investing 5% of your income is a great place to start – especially if you’re not making big bucks.
“Sold me the dream and I went and bought it. I can’t even afford it.” – Stormzy
On “Dreamers Disease,” British rapper Stormzy sings a financial truth many of us know too well: “Sold me the dream and I went and bought it. I can’t even afford it. Should’ve played it safe, put it straight to my mortgage.” Basically, you don’t need those $300 pair of shoes Instagram is telling you that need. The advertising world is trying to sell us thousands and thousands of things we don’t actually need, and we buy them without having a regard for our actual financial future. If we spend everything now, what do we have later?
“50 dollars for a t-shirt that’s some ignorant [expletive] [expletive]… I call that getting tricked by a business.” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ single “Thrift Shop” is basically an anthem for thrifty millennials. Think about it: why are we paying so much for overpriced t-shirts we could really get anywhere? Do you realize that wholesale t-shirts cost just $3-4? Why the heck should you pay more for anything because someone like Kylie Jenner slapped her name on it? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis got it right. Designer duds are never the best value, and watching that pair get stoked about saving money is pretty darn inspiring.
“Holla ‘we want prenup.'” – Kanye West
Okay, so Kanye West’s hit single “Gold Digger” can be read as a little misogynistic, but you can’t deny his solid financial advice. A prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect your assets in the event of a divorce. Of course, you never want a relationship to end in divorce, but you can’t predict the future. Things happen that are completely out of our control and people change. In the event your sweet, caring husband turns into a bitter ex who’s trying to extort you for all you’re worth, a prenuptial agreement will make sure you walk away with everything you saved up before the marriage.
“Cash rules everything around me” – Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang’s single “C.R.E.A.M.” is somewhat of an anthem for hustlers. While some of the group’s advice is a little questionable (please don’t “five finger” anything), they do make some great observations. Does cash really rule everything around you? You bet it does. The world is an uncertain place and the worth of a person is often determined by the size of their pocketbook. Whether you like it or not, cash does rule everything around you, but you can use this as a source of power. Either you play the game or you don’t.
“Floss a little; invest up in a mutual fund.” – Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes’ “Dangerous” teaches a few valuable lessons. Despite how cliché it may sound, flossing is actually a whole lot more important than you think. Death seeps in through the gums, someone’s old, Italian grandmother used to say. Really, though. Flossing adds about six years to your life. Oh yeah, you should also probably invest in a mutual fund.
“I think the best place to start is [by looking at] what the actual objective of that mutual fund is, and does it fall in line with what you’re trying to accomplish in your investment program,” said Sean M. Dowling, president of The Dowling Group Wealth Management, in an interview with Business Insider. “I think consideration should be given to the company, what their philosophies (are) … their successes and failures, (and) how they’ve handled those.”
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z
Hov loves to spit tidbits of financial wisdom in his verses. The rapper’s iconic lyric from Kanye’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)” is a call to treat yourself like a business. No one ever got rich working an hourly 9-to-5 with no room to grow. While you might make ends meet, that’s all you’re doing. Hov’s advice calls for us everyday hustlers to look for work in every facet of our lives. For some this means monetizing a YouTube blog or opening an Etsy store. For others, it means turning your cupcake-baking hobby into a little side business.
“Get your money right, be an international player.” – Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre had it right when he teamed up with The Game and Jay-Z to release the financially conscious single “Get Your Money Right.” As a new investor, you may be tempted to put all of your money in the American market. That’s a missed opportunity because so many companies are killing it overseas. Not only does globalizing your investment portfolio diversify your holdings (never put all your eggs in one basket), but it can also help literally launch your brand overseas if you choose to do so in the future. Different countries have different economies. Why bet on one when you don’t have to?
“Joint venture. We’ll partner up until the shares are up.” – Iggy Azalea
Iggy gets a bad rap (probably because she’s spit some bad raps), but her advice on “Change Your Life” is pretty solid. Starting a business takes a whole lot of coin and a whole lot of effort. There’s writing the business plan, gathering your assets, finding investors and then actually launching and running the business. Things are a whole lot easier if you can find a partner. Splitting up the work also means splitting up the success, though it’s much more valuable when you find yourself struggling at the very beginning.
“If you can’t buy it three times over, you can’t afford it.” – Slim Thug
Slim Thug is definitely positioning himself to become the next financial guru for millennials. The rapper wrote a book called How to Survive in a Recession. Don’t you wish you knew about that a few years ago? Thug’s e-book has a litany of good life advice like “don’t take care of anyone over 18.” What’s perhaps the most poignant is his advice about saving money. Just because you think you can afford something doesn’t mean you really can.
“I always say if you can’t buy it three times over, you can’t afford it. Don’t drive a Bentley on a Benz income,” he wrote.
“Control what I hold and of course be the boss of myself.” – Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane’s hit “A Job Aint Nuthin’ But Work” is filled with fatherly, financial advice. What do you expect from someone who labels themselves “Big Daddy?” Kane has a few great quotes throughout the song like “I believe I can achieve to make ends meet like a hair weave” (i.e. always believe in yourself) and “the rich gets the most and the poor gets so little, and only money love can make it in the middle” (love is important, guys!). What’s the most poignant is his strong views about making things happen for yourself rather than waiting around for your dream job.
“Control what I hold and of course be the boss of myself. No one else will bring my wealth. I gotta hit them streets to make ends meet.” Financial control equals financial freedom. Be informed and work hard.
“Money tree is the perfect place for shade.” – Kendrick Lamar
We all know money doesn’t grow on trees, but enough of it does provide a certain amount of security. On “Money Trees,” Kendrick Lamar doles out some wisdom like how hot sauce makes Top Ramen taste kind of awesome (seriously, try it) and violence isn’t really the answer. Lamar also takes a brief second to talk about the importance of saving. A savings account can be your shelter from the storm, or in Lamar’s case the shade away from a scalding sun. He also later equates this to drug use (“dreams of me getting shaded under a money tree”) but his greater message is that money can give you an escape. In Lamar’s case it was his way out of the projects.