How the Rap Industry is like a Russian Nesting Doll

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When you hear rap artists flaunt their material wealth like they own the world, a red flag should pop up. How can an artist like French Montana, with a net worth of 8 million dollars, afford multiple private jets, Lamborghinis, mansions, and tens of millions of dollars worth of other material goods he claims to have? The answer is he can’t. This exaggeration of wealth is a tool that the supplier, in this case Bad Boy Records, uses to increase demand for their music. The rap industry is full of instances of the supplier lying to or deceiving the consumer.

I will use the example I know best. Being from Philadelphia, my home town rapper is Meek Mill, who is revered by many. His lyrics like “couple cars I don’t neva drive, bikes I don’t neva ride, cribs I ain’t neva been” inspire the consumer to desire more. For the average consumer, having a house that they have never seen is completely out of the question. What the consumer doesn’t know is that it is for Meek Mill as well. He has a net worth of two million dollars. So waking up in a new Bugatti (US$1.5m) is not going to happen to him anytime soon.

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What I found most interesting about the industry is the chain of parent companies. Meek Mill owns Dream Chaser Records, which is part of Maybach Music Group or MMG. MMG is owned by Rick Ross “the Boss”, who claims in a song to have $92 million in his checking account. Complex Magazine estimates his net worth to be $25-35 million. Having thirty million dollars is no joke; he is certainly richer than most of the people in the world, so why would he try to lie and triple his net worth? This strategy seems to travel up the chain to MMG’s parent company, Roc-a-fella Music owned by the internationally famous Jay Z is not even the top of the chain. Jay Z with a net worth of $450-500 million dollars even has a boss. Universal Music Group owns Roc-a-fella. Universal is owned by a French multinational corporation which is a subsidiary of Vivendi. Vivendi is a media conglomerate based out of Paris. Supposedly in 2013 Vivendi had a recorded net worth of 70 billion dollars, this hardly makes Rick Ross with his 25 million dollars, the “boss” that he claims to be.data

I guess the point of this blog is just to make you think. Next time you hear a song where an artist claims to be in charge and on top just think about how complicated the industry really is. Most of the time, in the end, the stock holders are the real bosses.

 

5 thoughts on “How the Rap Industry is like a Russian Nesting Doll

  1. This blog was interesting to read, especially because many people think that fame equals wealth (which, more often than not, it does), and wealth equals extravagance (which it doesn’t always). This immediately made me think of professional athletes and the lifestyle they attempt to live once they reach the NFL, NBA, or other professional leagues. You often see young athletes hanging out with the rappers mentioned above or other famous figures from their hometown, and there can be pressure to spend large sums of money on cars, clubs, jewelry and expensive things to keep up with and impress the company they keep. Unfortunately, a 4-5 year contract worth $1.9 million per year (the average NFL salary) does not support that sort of lifestyle for very long. This is one of the reasons that 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players file for bankruptcy within 5 years of leaving their respective leagues.

    • Sorry to hear that the outcome for even the paid professional athletes is so bad, I’m sure vultures circle them hoping to become their money manager, while sellers of bling…. Then there’s the NCAA, a private monopoly that’s gotten itself exempted from antitrust law. So far.

  2. Aside from the outrageous photo and the bling bling imagery I think this is very standard practice among most other industries. Take the sunglass category. Rayban, Persol, Oakley and scores of others all belong to a conglomerate or shall we say monopoly called Luxotica. We can find the same example hidden amongst cars. Bugatti is owned by Volkswagen, Audi is owned by Volkswagen, Jeep is owned by Fiat, Dodge is owned by Fiat. There are endless examples everywhere amongst ourselves.

    America as a whole has a fascination with celebrities, stars and musicians. However, we have to remember that there is always someone above them that cut their first record deal, wrote their song for them and pays their paycheck. It is a Russian Nesting Doll if that’s what we want to call it. But if we look at cars, rappers and even the Bush family in politics, then it is safe to assume the entire world is one big Russian Nesting Doll.

  3. So … look for the topic of “status good”. Why own a Bugatti to begin with? Is it something you can use as an everyday car? Lop off a few zeros: how many logo-laden clothes do you own? (I think I have at least one legit “Polo” shirt, albeit bought in an outlet mall.) Does music have some of the same elements?

    One caution: you can have money in the bank and negative net worth, houses valued less than the mortgage. Not every stars keeps their wheels long. I’ve chatted with someone who’s done repos in Beverley Hills from “name-brand” stars who got over their heads in debt.

  4. @grieve

    I agree fully. Just an idea but, if you look at specific examples of stars like Terrell Owens and Allen Iverson (both have filed for bankruptcy) it makes you wonder if the industry is to blame for putting the pressure on them to live extravagant lives. For example, the Sixers knew that Iverson was an asset to them because of his outrageous lifestyle so in advertisements the franchise played off of the image of Iverson being the wildcard-big spender type. Iverson, now portrayed as this superstar, may have felt pressure to live up to this expectation to please the public.

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