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Jay-Z is first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire, Forbes reports

Jay-Z named hip-hop's 1st billionaire
Jay-Z becomes the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire 00:29

Jay-Z just joined an elite club of entertainers who have hit billionaire status — and he's the first hip-hop artist to do so. Forbes says the rapper's art, real estate, liquor and other investments, along with his entertainment industry earnings, have accumulated into "a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion." The 49-year-old's journey from young drug dealer to mega-mogul spans decades and includes numerous record and business deals.

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shaw Carter, grew up in the Marcy housing projects in Brooklyn, New York. After gaining success as a rapper, he created his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, signing about 50 artists to its roster. A clothing line, Rocawear, and a sports management company shortly followed. 

The billionaire businessman and rapper Jay-Z is married to Beyoncé, who holds her own when it comes to net worth. She has amassed about $355 million, according to Forbes. Getty

While Jay-Z, a father of three with his superstar wife Beyoncé, is one of the wealthiest entertainers in the U.S., a good chunk of his money comes from other business endeavors. Forbes determined his net worth by calculating the combined value of his businesses and investments. His Ace of Spades champagne, D'Usse cognac, investment in Uber, Tidal streaming service, art collection and three homes all contribute pieces of the billion-dollar pie.

Fellow music, fashion and liquor mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs is probably one of Jay-Z's closest competitors, but with an estimated net worth of $820 million, Diddy did not make the billionaire list. Dr. Dre is also a major player in the music industry — with his Beats by Dre headphones and a major deal with Apple Music — but Forbes estimates his net worth at $740 million. As for Beyoncé, she has amassed about $355 million, according to Forbes.

2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH - Inside
Only a handful of entertainers have become billionaires, and Jay-Z (left) is the first hip-hop artist to do so. Sean "Diddy" Combs (right), Jay-Z's next closest competitor, has a net worth of $820 million, according to Forbes. Getty

Other billionaires on Forbes' list of wealthiest American celebrities include Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Jay-Z has joined the ranks of some pretty powerful celebrities, and as his friend and producer Swizz Beats tells Forbes, his empire is still growing.

"If he's a billionaire now, imagine what he's about to be," Swizz Beats said. "Because he's only just starting."

With 22 Grammy Awards and a track-record for releasing hit albums — including "The Carters," his joint album with wife Beyoncé, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart last year — Jay-Z is showing no signs of retiring with his $1 billion fortune. Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi are very lucky kids.

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