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The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012 (Where Financing For Your Film May Come From... Or Not)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 18, 2012 8:50 PM
12 Comments
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Diddy

Whenever I read these lists, my reaction is always the same; and when I share that reaction publicly, I usually get shuffled off the stage, dodging darts.

But I'll keep saying the same thing anyway, which is that... with all this frigging wealth these fellas have (granted not all of it is in cash), and that they are in the entertainment business - some have done (and continue to do) work in film, or are planning to jump into that specific industry - there's very little reason why a steady, consistent stream of indie film financing for *black cinema* doesn't already exist, given how much discussion is had annually about the lack of representation; even on some small scale, would be a start.

There I said it... for the umpteeth time.

And I've said the same thing about others for whom film is their primary business - from Tyler Perry to Oprah, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, etc. The titans of industry... who happen to be black.

According to a new report from Forbes magazine, your 5 wealthiest hip-hoppers and how much each is worth, follow below:

- P. Diddy is the closest to becoming a billionaire, leading the pack with a net worth of $550 million.

Jay-Z at $460 million.

- Dr. Dre ranks third with $270 million, doubling from a year ago.

- Birdman clocks in at No. 4 with a fortune of $125 million

- And rounding out the "Forbes Five" as the list is called, is Curtis50 Cent Jackson at $110 million.

Add those figures all up together and you've got roughly $1.5 billion.

"One of my motivations in life is to be a billionaire,” said Birdman in a telephone interview with Forbes.

Ok. So you get there, and then what?

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12 Comments

  • Orville | April 19, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    I don't know why Tambay is surprised that the top five wealthy hip hop artists aren't helping indie black films. Just because the top five are black doesn't mean they care about black people or want to spread the wealth.

    However, I don't see Shadow and Act giving Tyler Perry props for creating his own damn studio and helping black actors. I know Tyler Perry isn't a hip hop aritst but at least he sees the bigger picture. Queen Latifah is a rapper turned actress and she is heavily involved in producing television shows on various networks and films.

  • Donella | April 22, 2012 3:56 PM

    Will Smith produces quite a bit.

  • HELL | April 19, 2012 3:48 PMReply

    As much as these guys wealth is, the majority of Black Athletes combine wealth is 5 times this amount. The indie film business is a hard business to navigate, because personally if I was them I would only invest on a proven hit maker that go after their target audience so it will be easier for them to promote as well. My 2 cents and 50 cent has been trying hard as hell to get his films into the theaters but it not happening because he want to act in them.

  • Philip | April 19, 2012 12:18 PMReply

    It all comes down to risk versus reward. I'm not close enough to the industry but I would be interested to see financials for the last 25 indie AA movies that have completed the cycle. Out of the 25, how many lost money, how many made money, and were any of them runaway successes in terms of the profits generated. Disinterest from the mainstream moviegoing audience plus the piracy within the AA community results in a difficult-to-justify business case.

  • Akelah | April 19, 2012 9:40 AMReply

    Diddy has dabbled in producing such as the documentary that won this year and I believe he said he is looking to get more involved in creating more film/tv projects, the question is will it be to promote his favorite person (himself) or to actually create great projects.

  • Rodney | April 18, 2012 9:57 PMReply

    I'm non-plussed by this kinds of lists. They involve estimating private fortunes which are very difficult to nail down because they depend on a number of variables. Also, none of these estimates reflect actual cash.

    The only number that appears close is Dr. Dre's, because there was a recent transaction in which he sold half of his interest for cash, which makes it easy to estimate the value of the half he held onto.

    Also, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to risk their own money. They've achieved their success by relying on other people's money and expertise. They leverage their personal endorsement and/or the alignment of their personal brands much like professional athletes. It's a brilliant strategy to get paid, but doesn't necessarily result in new investors who are experienced with risking capital to create new businesses.

  • Deana | April 18, 2012 9:51 PMReply

    The problem is that we don't control ANY means of film distribution. With digital technologies today, anyone can grab a dslr, a good script and make a film. However, if you have no means to distribute, the film does not get seen.

  • Xi | April 18, 2012 10:55 PM

    Yes for the "yet"

  • Rodney | April 18, 2012 10:03 PM

    There is black ownership of distribution (i.e., Codeblack, AFFRM, Bob Johnson's recent acquisitions (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-robert-johnson-20120417,0,6860658.story))

    The problem is none of those entities are dominant...yet.

  • Ghost | April 18, 2012 9:40 PMReply

    Doesn't 50 Cent do films? They just end up going straight to DVD? I think he's trying but he's not just focusing on black films right now.

  • Man-Over-Bored | April 18, 2012 9:27 PMReply

    Can you imagine the medallion Birdman would buy with a billion dollars?

  • Vanessa | April 18, 2012 9:14 PMReply

    Unfortunately, not everyone has the passion to make an indie film that is not destined to be a commercial success; they probably don't want to put their energy into it when they can make way easier money and be seen by many more people. Especially these guys that are used to doing it big. It's a shame.

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