Hip-Hop Cash Kings


Hip-Hop Cash Kings

From: www.forbes.com

While most of us look forward to retirement, Shawn Carter, better known to the planet as master rapper Jay-Z, couldn’t stand the view from the sidelines following his 2003 farewell The Black Album. Despite a frenetic schedule as president of Def Jam Recordings and co-founder of its ultra-successful Roc-A-Fella Records imprint, Jay-Z managed to squeeze in a comeback last year with Kingdom Come, his 11th studio album, which debuted at the top of the pop and rap music charts, selling some 2 million copies.

But those weren’t the only paycheques coming in. Jay-Z also owns the 40/40 Club sports bar franchise, with locations in New York and Atlanta, and a small stake in the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. (He’s often photographed in courtside seats alongside his girlfriend, pop superstar Beyoncé.) Plus the native New Yorker (from Brooklyn’s hardscrabble Marcy Projects) collects income from blue-chip endorsement deals with Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ), and General Motors (nyse: GM). All told, Jay-Z banked an estimated US$34 million in 2006, earning him the top spot on Forbes’ first-ever list of hip-hop Cash Kings.

Unlike traditional music genres like pop, rock and country, whose artists generally make the bulk of their money selling albums and touring, hip-hop has spawned an impressive cadre of musicians-cum-entrepreneurs who have parlayed their fame into lucrative entertainment empires. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who nabbed the No. 2 spot on the list, presides over G-Unit, a diverse portfolio of businesses that includes apparel, ringtones, video games and even a line of fiction. All told, “Fiddy” as he is known to fans, made an estimated US$32 million last year. “I’m creating a foundation that will be around for a long time, because fame can come and go or get lost in the lifestyle and the splurging,” he told Forbes last year. “I never got into it for the music. I got into it for the business.”

At No. 3 is impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs, formerly known as “Puff Daddy,” who lords over Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group. That enterprise is responsible for TV series like MTV’s Making the Band franchise, the Sean John clothing line, the bestselling Unforgivable cologne and a pair of restaurants called Justin’s, named after one of his sons. The Bad Boy Records label, backed by Warner Music Group (nyse: WMG), released albums last year by Danity Kane, Cassie and Yung Joc. Last year, Diddy himself released his first album in four years; Press Play debuted at the top of the U.S. pop and rap charts. All told, Combs made an estimated US$28 million last year. (Representatives for Diddy, ever the showman, insist that figure is much higher.)

Generally, the most successful “hip-hopreneurs” run their own labels, taking a cut from the artists they sign. Both Eminem (US$18 million) and Dr. Dre (US$20 million) boast Interscope-backed imprints; both helped produce and release 50 Cent’s last two albums, which have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Fifty owns his own G-Unit label which produces artists like Young Buck and Lloyd Banks, among others.

Other lucrative businesses: producing tracks and beats for other artists. Listers like Timbaland (US$21 million), Scott Storch (US$17 million) and Pharrell Williams (US$17 million) are among the most sought after–and pricey– producers on the planet. Rappers like Snoop Dogg (US$17 million) collect massive fees for cameos on other artists’ tracks. Last year, in addition to releasing Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, his eighth studio album, Snoop Dogg (US$17 million) made guest appearances on hit singles by Akon, Mariah Carey and the Pussycat Dolls.

While endorsement deals with top-shelf brands used to be the exclusive domain of pop’s biggest acts–Michael Jackson and Madonna, among them–hip-hop artists now routinely land such gigs. This year Chamillionaire (US$11 million) inked a deal with Energizer; The Game (US$11 million) peddles Skechers sneakers. And in an irrefutable sign of just how corporate hip-hop has become: Last October Anheuser Busch named Jay-Z “co-brand director” for Budweiser Select.

Our estimates are based solely on 2006 income. In March, Jay-Z sold his Rocawear apparel label to Iconix (nasdaq: ICON) for US$204 million. Forbes estimates he pocketed about a quarter of that, after taxes and other payable commitments. And in May, Coca Cola (nyse: KO) announced it would buy Glaceau, maker of VitaminWater, for US$4.2 billion in cash. Once the deal is consummated, 50 Cent, who agreed to endorse the brand in 2004 in exchange for a small stake, should walk away with some US$100 million. Best efforts were made to contact every member of the list for comment.

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Black Like Me

Black Like Me
Virtues: race, distinction, etiology

Black like me, like who? Whether your background is Caribbean, American, or African, if you are black you share traits – people look at you with common expectations. However, amongst black people, we like to distinguish ourselves from each other, even though we essentially come from the same place – Africa. My background is Caribbean, but now I reside in North America (Toronto to be specific), and I once talked to this African woman; I thought that it would be just as usual if I was talking to a Jamaican or Trini, but I soon realized that I felt that our cultures were so different; I almost thought that I was dating a white girl. I was learning about different foods, traditions, heritage, attitudes that I thought that I should know (because we share the same race), but I was grossly mistaken.

Historical Sense
In North America, you generally have two classes of black people: domesticated/westernized blacks & Africans. The former group comes from a diverse background; they have either migrated from the Caribbean islands and/or are the offspring of slavery. From the shores of Halifax Nova Scotia which was Canada’s first black population settlement, to the deep south of Mississippi, there is similarity of a shared struggle throughout history that exists even to this day; their heritage only spans from somewhere in the 1800’s – anytime before that, and the details of their heritage gets sketchy, fuzzy, like channel ‘01’. Similarly, the Caribbean people that have migrated to Canada & the U.S. for better prosperity share a similar heritage-like progression as they too have lost details about their history from around the 1800’s and even early 1900’s. This is significant to the domesticated/westernized blacks because they have a loss of culture; a loss of roots.

I know the enlightened person is like, ‘you shouldn’t group Caribbean’s with domesticated westernized blacks because their culture is different’, such a person would be right; but they share the same etiology – the etiology they share is different from African blacks.

Noticeable Differences
It is the etiology that essentially creates the distinction and divide that exists amongst blacks – so much so that both groups are prejudice to each other. And with all types of prejudice behavior – it is a result of a lack of knowledge and respect for others. Meaning, that the Westernized blacks may know about the history of Africa (i.e. slavery), but currently, the Westernized blacks do not know much about the current state of their brethren across the Atlantic. According to the media, Africa is still full of savages, AIDS, poverty, and tribes.

In my experiences, both groups have an inherent bias towards themselves. The domesticated/westernized blacks believe that they are better than the Africans because they have been in the West longer, understand the western culture & ideals better, and have better language skills. Whereas, the Africans believe that they are better than the domesticated/westernized blacks because they believe that they have more heritage, know their roots, and are more ‘black’ (pure) than their brethren. So basically, this correlates into a subdued (or at times overt) attitude that people develop of ‘frowning’ and/or ‘looking down’ on others. Which really shouldn’t be the case, because in the end, while we battle ‘looking down’ at each other, the ‘man’ is looking down at us – laughing, exploiting as usual.

Think about that!

.:: d.b

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Life in B Major