For an otherwise pretty boring business publication Forbes has built quite the name for itself in the hip-hop space with its annual list of the richest rappers, but reporting that Jay Z is very, very wealthy isn't exactly breaking news. So, instead, the magazine's now turned its sights to the next generation of money makers by compiling a list of rappers they believe will eventually be able moguls in their own right.
Before we get to their actual list though, I feel obligated to offer a few disclaimers because there's nothing I enjoy more than ruining a good party with facts. First, Forbes hasn't proven to be a very reliable source of rapper wealth period lately - they had 50 Cent making over $100 million at the same time we now know he was preparing to declare bankruptcy. And second, this list isn't based on any actual numbers. Instead, they brought together a panel of music industry types - Hit-Boy, Charlamagne Tha God, Atlantic Records chief Craig Kallman and Forbes staffers - and those people selected artists based on what seemingly amounts to gut instinct.
There, I'm all disclaimered out. Now let's get to the main show. In no particular order, they selected:
- Dej Loaf
- Fetty Wap
- Joey Badass
- Lil Dicky
- Little Simz
- Metro Boomin
- Young Dolph
Overall I have no real complaints with those names, but what bothers me most about this list is that it doesn't seem to acknowledge how the music industry actually works, and how the music industry actually works is by often creating an abyss between fame and actual income. For example, even though Fetty Wap's the one with the uber-giant-enormous hit songs, I wouldn't necessarily assume Fetty has any more money than Joey Bada$$. Joey, who's truly independent, is likely taking home a much higher percentage of every dollar he generates versus Fetty, who only gets to take home what's left after Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold, Kevin Liles, Todd Moscowitz and a small army of managers and lawyers take their cut.
Would you rather have 1 percent of $5 million, or 50 percent of $100,000? Don't worry, I won't make you actually do that math. That $5 million number looks much more impressive, but the takeaway is actually the same amount, and that's how platinum-selling artists can end up bankrupt before indie acts.
I want to stress though, all of that is just hypothetical. I don't know the terms of any of these artists' contracts, and Forbes doesn't either. More than ever, a rapper's income is based on an increasingly dizzying and constantly shifting mix of music sales, publishing, touring, merch and brand endorsements, all of which makes accurately estimating the depths of someone's pockets nearly impossible. But I won't completely kill the vibe, I'm no stranger to a bit of baseless speculation. So as long as we're here, out of that list....
....my money's on Logic being the one still standing financially tall in ten years. Who you got?