Money has always been a major issue in hip-hop. While integrity stands above all in the heart of the culture, raking in the big bucks is high on the list of priorities for rap artists and has been since the beginning of time — just look at Big Bank Hank giving listeners a glimpse of the good life on the iconic rap cut “Rapper’s Delight.”
Over the years, hip-hop has become big business since first being cultivated in the impoverished conditions of New York City. Fans and corporations alike are seemingly unable to get enough of the flavor that powers hip-hop. In 2016, the genre is as big a deal as it’s ever been. Just check President Obama’s playlist and you’ll see names like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Wale pop up, which is evidence of rap’s undeniable allure.
And if the president, who has billions of people hanging on to his every word, takes the time out to appreciate the power of hip-hop and the joy that it brings, imagine the average Joe being able to front on the little genre that could. The love affair that the mainstream has with hip-hop has translated into billions of dollars spent and have made multi-millionaires out of numerous men who were able to utilize the culture as a launching pad to nurture their entrepreneurial sensibility. The likes of Jay Z and Kanye West have created their own record labels and even ventured outside the world of beats, rhymes and life to attain a little coin and expand their brand.
The past calendar year has seen more than a few checks get cut and deals brokered, with a number of rap’s stars building up their resume and diversifying their portfolio. Here’s 20 rappers that made major business moves over the course of 2016.