Has it really been so long since the last "
"? Is has? Sweet baby jesus, my apologies. But all the work I've done over the years to close the gap between rap fantasy and rap financial reality came rushing back to me when I saw a story about Ludacris' custody battle.
, child support hearings are really bizzaro rap songs. In a video rappers have every incentive to make themselves appear as wealthy as possible; in the courtroom those incentives are completely reversed. It's surreal to watch the same rappers driving Maybachs in their videos vehemently insist they're essentially broke in the courtoom; as always the truth is probably somewhere in between.
In Ludacris' case, a
with his daughter's mother, Tamika Fuller, has lead to Luda insisting in court that he made $55,000 in 2013, and can only afford $1,800 in monthly child support, mostly because he was counting on a check from "Fast & Furious 7" that now might never arrive/will be delayed. So to recount, despite the music royalties and
, when it came time to file those legal papers, Ludacris claimed less than $60K in income last year. That's kind of mind-blowing.
For some perspecitve, here's a
that on avergae made as much, or more, money than Ludacris last year: Education Administrators, Funeral Service Managers, Postmasters and Mail Superintendents, Claims Adjusters and Appraisers, Computer Programmers and, of course, Cartographers.
Do I have to pause and issue disclaimers that no one will read? I do? Fine.
First, I genuinely wish nothing but the best for Ludacris. As a father having my child taken from me is my nightmare, and while I can't claim to know anything about his relationship with his children and their mother, I hope he and Fuller can find a way to provide their daughter with the parenting she needs.
Second, this isn't about hating on Ludacris; he may have fallen off on the mic, but he's still a legend. This is about trying to provide some much needed perspective to artists, prospective artists and fans. I guarantee that if I walked into a high school classroom and asked how much money they thought Ludacris made last year, all of them would guess in the millions. And those are the same kids who end up
because they think rapping is the surest way to wealth.
We live in the era of the Instagram rack, an era when Rick Ross
, an era when Luda insists that he's
while most people are struggling to find a job that pays thousands after graduating.
I've known tech entrepreneurs who sold their companies for millions and are now millions in debt, but still driving that Bentley because they're floating on loans, praying for that next payday. And there are clearly rappers who, however much they may hide assets in a child support hearing, brag about spending 15 racks in the club a night because it's nothing, but when they step in that courtroom, say they're tapped out at 2K a month.
So I'm not saying don't chase your rap dreams. I'm just saying that if you're chasing rap dreams primarily because you want to get shaded under a money tree, know that you're chasing a dream. If you're really all about your paper, you might want to consider putting that same grind into becoming an air traffic controller ($118K a year). And to all those fans who get so mad when I write articles like this, someday you might just have to confront the fact that the rappers you life vicariously though don't really live such opulent existances.
Only Luda, God and his accountant know how much he really made. But there are a lot more roads to those millions than hip-hop, and a lot more ways to become a (true)