By Mike Enemigo
You wanna be a top-dog rapper, right? And you never want to work a day again when you finally make it, right? I already know: You wanna get rich from rappin and live your wildest dreams. This article is about having the mindset that is going to allow you to get rich, stay rich, and get richer once you finally make it. I’m going to show you the ways rappers go from being just rappers, to getting rich from rappin, to building an empire and stayin rich forever.
- Understand first that rappin alone will not make you rich. This is important to remember because it allows you to always be ready and looking for opportunities to make money from your rap career as they come about.
Let’s talk about being more than a rapper. Because to be completely honest, the end goal isn’t to just be a rapper if you’re a smart rapper. The goal is to start with music, grow an audience, then use the money and influence you make from rap to help you expand and build an empire. Think Jay Z, Diddy, Master P, and 50 Cent. Do you think Jay would be worth over $500 million from just selling rap albums at $10-$15 each? Nope. It is the investments in other areas that allowed him to get rich from rappin.
- Get it while you’re hot. Buzz fades. No one really thinks about rappers from the 90s the same way they did in the 90s. Same goes for the 2000s or even just five years ago. You have a peak and hottest moment in your career as a rapper. So, keep in mind now that the money you start making needs to start being invested in other business ventures. The money you make at the peak of your rap career will be the most you make from rapping; hence, peak of your career. Think about how many broke-ass rappers there are becuase they didn’t monetize properly at the right time and sure as hell didn’t do any of the stuff I mention in this article. You need to consider where you are going to invest your money so you can continue to grow upwards and not the other way around. When everyone has their eyes on you and you are the hottest thing out, that is when everyone is buying from you. But if you’re business skills ain’t up to par at that time, and if you don’t have a solid plan, you will miss out on what could change your life forever.
A great example would be this guy; the guy who popped off from one song, then made a song joking about how no one knew who he was. It was basically… Who is Mike Jones? Remember that? Probably not. His career was extremely short. He was hot for maybe six months. After that he wasn’t hot anymore so it became hard for him to use his “influence” to make deals and he had to rely solely on financial capital to fund business ideas. Is he still rich? Who knows? Do I care? Nope. Why? Because he didn’t grind hard enough to stay relevant to me. Keep that in mind.
- Know the markets where you can get rich rappin. If you don’t know where you could potentially expand to with your money and influence, you can’t capitalize on it. So, let’s take a super-well-known rapper with amazing business skills who got rich initially by rappin: 50 Cent. He then expanded his influence into every single area possible to monetize that area and make more and more money.
- Sell your life story. 50 primarily built influence using his story of being in the street, getting shot 9 times, surviving it, then coming back. It’s the story of an underdog not only surviving an assassination attempt, but coming back from it stronger than ever. This is extremely influential and it is like a gold mine for publishing companies and record labels. When you can influence and motivate people, you can influence and motivate them to buy. To spend their money. 50 and his team branded him perfectly, then sold his story to the masses. Since then, he has used it to build himself an empire, and he’s taking his “struggle” all the way to the bank. They started with the album – Get Rich or Die Tryin’ – then flipped it into a movie. Just like Eminem started with his music then made 8 Mile.
- Create a movie soundtrack. After you do the movie, you do a movie soundtrack. Popular movies have soundtracks that sell and make a lot of money. In addition, the movie promotes the soundtrack and the soundtrack promotes the movie. It all goes full circle.
- Create more music. Though 50’s career peak was Get Rich or Die Tryin, every album afterward still had enough buzz to sell units. They did, however, decline in sales. But this cannot be fought. It’s typical, especially when someone has such a massive debut.
- Tour. Touring is the bread and butter of a rapper’s career. But this also requires you to show up and get paid for your time. The smartest people who get rich rappin do so by investing their money into things that don’t require them to actually show up – where they can make passive money. They create an automated business that requires little or no upkeep or they hire people to run it for them so it runs on autopilot. This way they just collect a check. At the big levels, you can make $100,000 a show. But even at the lower levels, where you only make $5,000 a show, it still adds up when you are doing 200 shows a year.
- Create your own record label, sign your own artists. Eminem and Dr. Dre used their influence to support 50 and that gave 50 his massive influence. Then, when 50 was “on,” he signed all the talent he had around him. If done right, you then make money from everything your artist makes that I’ve listed in this entire article. This is because, generally, when you sign someone now, it’s to a 360 deal. 360 means “full circle,” which means you make money off everything that artist does. Record labels typically want a 360 deal because after they have spent their money investing into you, branding you and building you up, they want a return on their investment; they don’t want you to then be able to take all the money they spent and work they did and reap the benefits without them. When 50 sells an album, Eminem and Dre get paid. When Lloyd Banks or The Game sell an album, 50 gets paid. Shit, when 2 Chainz sells an album, Ludacris gets paid, still. All because Luda signed 2 Chainz in 2007. Lesson: Make sure you read and understand those contracts. And make sure your contract has an expiration date.
- Start a clothing line. While you’re hot, you can make serious money from clothes. It only costs a few bucks to create a shirt and you can sell it for $20 or more, easily. 50 made a ton of money from G Unit clothing. Eminem had Shady for a minute. Jay Z made a shitload of money from Rocawear. Diddy made a bunch of money with Sean John. Nip made a ton of money with Marathon. No-brainer.
Create a fragrance. Selling water in a bottle that has some scent added to it can make some real dough. This is why everyone does it. People want to smell like their favorite rapper.
Sign a shoe deal. If you get big enough, you will have the opportunity to team up with a shoe brand and put out your own shoe. Big bread.
Invest in business start-ups. 50 Cent invested some money into Vitamin Water when it was on the rise. Coca Cola then bought it for 4.2 billion. 50 got a big chunk of change from this. Then he rapped about it: “I took quarter water, sold it in bottles for two bucks / Coca Cola came and bought it for billions; what the fuck!?” Dre did his thing with Dre Beats, which Apple came and acquired for 3.2 billion.
Write a movie script and/or act. If a movie wants to use your influence to sell tickets, they are going to pay you based on how many tickets they can sell. You get the exposure and the cash. Many rappers have appeared in movies. Rapper Gunna just appeared in the Dutch movie, a movie based on the book Dutch, one of the greatest street lit books of all time.
Create a TV show. As you probably know, 50 has the TV show Power and Power Book 2: Ghost on Starz, as well as For Life on ABC. He has his hands in everything! And he has BMF in the works, too.
Create a website. 50 saw the power of having your own website and created thisis50.com. This is not only a great place for hip-hop content, but also a platform that he controls that he can drop his own projects on, promote them, etc. Very smart. It’s his own media platform, which he controls. Though I’m not a rapper, I’m an author, this is what I’m doing with my website, thecellblock.net.
Get book deals and/or start your own publishing company. One of the top books for prisoners and block bleeders is The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene. 50 Cent teamed up with Greene to drop The 50th Law, which is in the style of The 48 Laws of Power, but teaches 50’s business strategies and uses his real life experiences as examples to show you how he built his empire. He also launched the publishing company G Unit Books, which usually drops street lit, and he recently dropped a new book titled Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter. Baggage claims.
Capitalize on new tech trends. When Dre dropped Beats By Dre, the headphone market exploded. So, 50 jumped into the game and dropped SMS Audio and got his hands on some of that headphone money. Headphones are not expensive to make, but they can sell for lots of money with the right name attached. Even Ray J got some headphones out now.
Create an energy drink. 50 dropped Street Kings. Lil Jon dropped Crunk Energy. This is a tough market to get into because Red Bull and Monster got it on lock, but you can still get some money from it.
Create an alcohol brand. Look at Diddy’s Ciroc. He’s making a killing. Jay got Ace of Spades. Even Boosie got Boosie Juice. The margins on alcohol are great. You can make a bottle of vodka for $1.50-$4.00 and sell it at a premium if you have the right name behind it. (Shout out to my neighbor Noe. He makes some of the best Whiskey ever right in his prison cell. I’m telling you; jet fuel! I’d invest if we was out.)
Get endorsed by a brand. Remember when Drake was drinking Sprite while “Forever” played in the background? That’s a brand endorsement. Cardi has one with Pepsi. Nicki’s had one. Nas gets paid to say he drinks Hennessy. There’s a lot of money in endorsement deals. Shit, you can make money just posting these brands on social media if yours is poppin enough.
Music royalties can add up. You can make money for a long time off a hit song. It just keeps paying out. Every time “In Da Club” plays, Dre and Em get paid. Every time “Window Shopper,” “Just a Lil Bit,” and “I Get Money” plays, Dre, Em and 50 gets paid. Even lower-level rappers –like Oakland’s Philthy Rich makes 30 bands a month just off iTunes. While that’s not the “rich” we’re talking about, it’s still stupid ballin, especially when we’re talking about passive income.
Sell merch. Rich rappers are selling merch. This can count as shirts, hats, backpacks, COVID masks, books, headphones, posters, hoodies, etc. Shit, even weed. Nip had “Marathon OG.” Rappers are getting baggage sellin weed. All you gotta do is brand it.
Invest in real estate. This is another no-brainer. Real estate is one of the best investments one can make. Any rapper with any sense will take some of his money and buy properties.
And that, my friends, are a few ways you can get rich from rapping. It’s not just the rapping. It’s what you do with your influence and the platform you get from rapping. You need to capitalize on your influence and opportunities by making smart business decisions.
Mike Enemigo is a former drug dealer. He’s now a successful “prisonpreneur” who’s turned his dirty hustle clean. With over 30 books published and many more on the way, he’s America’s #1 incarcerated author. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and he’s written several books which teach prisoners and street hustlers how to make money legally so they can avoid the traps of prison and crime. Among these books are Hood Millionaire: How to Hustle & Win LEGALLY! (Also published as Get Out, Get Rich: How to Make Money Legally When You Get Out of Prison!), and CEO Manual: Start a Business, Be a Boss! (Also published as The CEO Manual: How to Start Your Own Business When You Get Out of Prison!). For more information on Mike and his books, visit thecellblock.net, where you can also subscribe to his blog, The Official Magazine of The Cell Block, where he and other TCB authors provide raw, uncensored news, entertainment, and resources on the topics of prison and street-culture from a true, insider’s perspective. Be sure to also follow Mike on all social medias at @mikeenemigo and @thecellblockofficial.