Boss'd Up: 10 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists Making Bank Outside of Music

BB25 2019 - DO NOT REUSE
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Nas, Travis Scott, Ice Cube, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B

50 Cent: Although Fitty’s hit series Power is in its sixth and final season on Starz, the hip-hop mogul is far from finished with the network. In October 2018, he signed a reported $150 million deal with the pay-cable channel that includes a three-series commitment and a “discretionary fund” for developing projects. According to Power showrunner Courtney A. Kemp, the deal includes a spinoff of the original series that will star Mary J. Blige.

Cardi B: The Bronx-bred MC’s money moves extend well beyond her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. Her “Season 2” collection with online boutique Fashion Nova dropped in May, reportedly taking in $1 million in one day. Her minor but memorable film debut in Hustlers -- which grossed $33.2 million in its opening weekend -- should lead to more offers, and she and her “Okurrr” catchphrase jazzed up major marketing campaigns for Amazon’s Alexa and Pepsi.

Ice Cube: In April, CBS announced it had inked an exclusive deal to air over 20 hours of Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league on its broadcast network (and more than 25 hours on its CBS Sports Network cable channel), where NBA stars compete in three-on-three half-court games. CBS Sports executive vp programming Daniel Weinberg applauds the MC for “working tirelessly” to promote the partnership: “Ice Cube provides a terrific opportunity to create buzz and visibility.”

Joe Budden: Budden’s 2018 partnership with Spotify for his namesake podcast; his YouTube interview series, Pull Up; and his REVOLT show State of the Culture have changed the way fans absorb hip-hop-focused digital media. “These are necessary conversations that our audience cares about, wants to hear more about and ultimately can make their own decisions about,” says Robyn Lattaker-Johnson, REVOLT’s head of content and development.

Killer Mike: The Run the Jewels star gets candid about several topics affecting the black community and the world as a whole in his Netflix docuseries Trigger Warning With Killer Mike, which began its six-episode run in early 2019. Killer Mike says he was given the opportunity to construct the series “without infringement,” allowing for a seamless creative partnership. “This was my first endeavor in TV, but Netflix is a company that I would look forward to doing more cool shit with,” he says.

Nas: Outside of his vaunted skills on the mic, the Queens native is proving to be a top-notch businessman. In January, Viacom spent $340 million to acquire the Nas-backed streaming platform Pluto TV. The rapper also has invested in such companies as Lyft, Genius and SeatGeek throughout the years. In August, his label Mass Appeal, along with Universal Music Group, announced the launch of Mass Appeal India and signed DIVINE as its first act.

Nicki Minaj: Minaj may be retiring from music, but she’s just getting started in fashion. In September, she announced her Fendi Prints On collaboration with the luxury brand. The 127-piece collection -- named after a lyric in her song “Chun-Li” -- will hit stores in October and feature clothing and accessories for women, men and children. (Prices will range from $220 to $12,200.) Minaj has said the women’s line will showcase curves in an effort to promote body positivity.

N.O.R.E.: REVOLT, Tidal and Mass Appeal connected for a multiplatform partnership with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN involving their popular Drink Champs podcast. In August, those media outlets began offering exclusive content from the show, which features hip-hop luminaries candidly discussing their careers. “N.O.R.E. is a big proponent of having fun, and the show just exudes that,” says Roc-A-Fella co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, who was instrumental in the merger.

Rihanna: In May, RiRi and LVMH Moët Hennessy announced they had partnered on a Fenty fashion label in which the luxury-brand conglomerate will invest a reported $30 million. The deal adds another facet to Rihanna’s fashion empire, which began with her inclusivity-driven Fenty Beauty makeup collection and Fenty Savage lingerie line. The Barbadian mogul also has been in the studio recording her much-anticipated next album.

Travis Scott: Scott’s Air Jordan 33 NRG sneaker dropped in February, the latest in a collaboration with Nike that began in 2017. In March, he wrapped his Astroworld -- Wish You Were Here Tour, which grossed $58.7 million in North America. The creative process that led to his Grammy-nominated Astroworld album was depicted in Scott’s August Netflix doc Look Mom I Can Fly, and his second Astroworld Festival is slated for later this year.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of Billboard.


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