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The 'Run This Town' Billionaire Club: Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West

They run this town now.
IMAGE SCREENSHOT, INSTAGRAM/BADGALRIRI, SHUTTERSTOCK
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Twelve years ago, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna collaborated on the same track, rapping about how one day they’d all “run this town.” More than a decade later, they’ve manifested those lyrics into reality because all three rappers on the Grammy-winning “Run This Town” track are now billionaires.

The trio are the wealthiest artists in rap, hip-hop, and R&B. Diddy and Dr. Dre don’t even come close. But curiously enough, the bulk of Rihanna, Jay-Z, and West’s wealth comes from their businesses, ventures, and investments outside of music. While Jay-Z has made a name for himself as a music mogul, Rihanna and West found their fortunes in fashion and beauty.

Here’s how they all became billionaires.

Jay-Z

Net worth: $1.4 billion

Born and raised in Harlem, Hov built his music career in the ‘90s, but it was in the 2000s that he made a name for himself as a businessman. He founded clothing line Rocawear and luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club during this decade, and both are now multi-million dollar companies. In 2008, Jay-Z used his earnings from his first two companies to start Roc Nation, an entertainment company that now boasts some of the world's biggest rappers and artists. Currently signed with Roc Nation are: Rihanna, The Dream, Shakira, Meek Mill, Alicia Keys, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, Megan Thee Stallion, J. Cole, Nick Jonas, and Yo Gotti.

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Outside of Roc Nation, Jay-Z is involved in other media companies such as streaming service Tidal after he acquired its parent company Aspiro in 2015. Compared to his “Run This Town” co-collaborators, Jay-Z has a far more diversified portfolio, as he’s also got $220 million worth of investments in sports teams, restaurant brands, alcohol brands, and priceless art. He also has a stake in Uber and his real estate portfolio is worth $50 million. Jay-Z also does brand consultancy work on the side. He was a co-brand director for Budweiser Select for a while, but he now owns his own champagne line, Armand de Brignac, that’s earned him over $310 million.

Rihanna

Net worth: $1.7 billion

The Barbados-born R&B singer was discovered as a teenager by Jay-Z, who helped catapult her to stardom back in the early 2000s. Rihanna has since gone on to release eight studio albums and win nine Grammys, but the singer built the bulk of her wealth through her massively successful cosmetic venture in 2017, Fenty Beauty.

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In less than five years, Fenty Beauty is now worth $2.8 billion, making Rihanna’s 50 percent stake in the company worth $1.4 billion. The rest of the star’s wealth comes from her earnings in music and touring, as well as her other Fenty venture, Savage x Fenty, a fast-growing lingerie line that is now worth $1 billion. Rihanna’s Fenty ventures were all backed by LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury conglomerate, as well as Jay-Z’s own Marcy Venture Partners.

Kanye West

Net worth: $1.8 billion

Despite Jay-Z’s diversified portfolio and Rihanna’s meteoric success with her Fenty brands, it’s Kanye West who ended up the richest billionaire among the three. However, West’s wealth source is a little more complicated. Unlike Roc Nation or Fenty Beauty, Kanye West’s billion-dollar Yeezy brand is not exactly a company of its own. It’s a fashion collaboration between Adidas and West, but it’s so wildly popular that each new shoe release has practically sold out. The sales have been enough to boost the controversial West to billionaire status as he owns 100 percent of the Yeezy brand. But he only received 15 percent of Adidas’ Yeezy revenues. See? Complicated. Aside from his partnership with Adidas, Yeezy has also teamed up with Gap to release a line of Yeezy clothing.

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Included in West’s net worth are his $102 million worth of assets in buildings, homes, and land. In total, that brought his net worth in 2020 to $1.3 billion, which increased to $1.8 billion in 2021. However, this is an amount contested by Kanye himself who claims he’s worth at least $3 billion.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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