On a blazingly bright morning at the end of the South By Southwest music and technology conference, Rico Nasty takes the stage at the Fader Fort in Austin as part of a panel discussion—and finds another way to increase her earnings. Clad in a swirly black-and-lime-green jumpsuit, she shows off her threads as cameras flash; after the event, she spends a few moments talking up her outfit.
“I bought it a few days ago, and I’m probably going to wear it once, and there’s going to be a lot of pictures in it,” the 21-year-old rapper says before outlining her plan to sell the jumpsuit on the peer-to-peer shopping app Depop, as she does with most of the clothing she wears in public. “We’ve made like, probably $20 thousand in the past two months.”
Born Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly in Brooklyn, Rico started rapping in high school before releasing a string of mixtapes. She signed to Atlantic Records and has yet to release her formal debut studio album, but she’s already among music’s most promising up-and-comers, earning her a spot on our list. And with more women like Rico rising up the rap charts, we’re formally changing the name of our ranking to Hip-Hop Cash Princes and Princesses.
The list, presented in full below, comprises the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under the age of 30 in terms of future earning potential, as judged by an expert panel; no repeats are allowed. This year’s list of judges includes the late Nipsey Hussle, a 2015 Cash Prince who sent his picks just days before his tragic passing; songwriter and 30 Under 30 honoree Mickey Shiloh; and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who found a lot to like about Rico.
“Rico Nasty is one of the best shooting guards in hip-hop right now,” says O’Neal, whose résumé includes careers as a DJ and rapper. “Like a shooting guard, she is able to score in many ways and adapt to the style of play. She is dynamic and always working on her craft, improving her game, updating her sound.”
First, Rico had to work her way off the bench. After moving from New York to Maryland as a child, she started rapping during her teenage years and her mother started working as her manager. For Rico’s first gig, they paid $200 to rent out a performance space, figuring they could more than double that sum by charging $20 per head for tickets. Only six people showed up.
Rico remembers reorganizing her life after that: She moved out of her mother’s house and started working to build her career from the ground up. That meant churning out mixtapes and interacting with her fans on a one-on-one basis—both on social media and in person as she tried her hand at live performances once again around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“I’m bringing them out to the shows, and we’re getting our nails done and shit,” she says, recalling her first efforts to bring fans into her corner. “This is my opportunity to make these people lifelong friends, in a sense.”
In 2017, Rico’s single “Poppin” took off on YouTube and was featured on HBO’s Insecure; the following year, she signed to Atlantic and released another mixtape, Nasty. Her pay for live shows started to climb in tandem. From her days struggling to top $100 per concert, she zoomed to an average of $7,000 per gig before snagging an estimated $35,000 guarantee for her performance at Coachella last weekend (she wouldn’t confirm the precise amount).
“Five figures,” she says coyly. “That shit feels amazing to say out loud.”
Rico still has ways to go before she gets to the level of the festival’s headliners, whose gigs fetch seven-figure guarantees. In the meantime, she’s working on other ways to extend her brand. In addition to her work with Depop, she recently launched a line of headphones with Skullcandy. And, with the marijuana accessory provider Hemper, she gets a per-unit cut on sales of Rico Nasty-branded bongs, rolling papers and air fresheners.
Says judge Mickey Shiloh of Rico: “Somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”
Hip Hop Cash Princes: Introducing The Class Of 2019
“6LACK’s tone is completely his own,” says Shiloh. “His songwriting is also what takes his artistry to an entirely new level … it’s like everything you can’t find the words to say, he says effortlessly.”
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
The Bronx-born rapper is no stranger to the Cash Princes universe, having collaborated with list of alumni including 21 Savage and Offset of Migos. He’s becoming a star in his own right: A Boogie’s second album, Hoodie SZN, topped the chart shortly after its December 2018 release.
The trap rapper blends hip-hop with Reggaeton as seamlessly as he weaves English and Spanish lyrics into wildly popular songs like Cardi B’s “I Like It,” his first U.S. chart-topper. He now grosses more than $500,000 per tour stop.
The Cash Money Records signee rose to prominence with his smash song “Thotiana”—from his 2018 mixtape Famous Cryp—which has climbed to No. 8 on the U.S. singles charts. He was a top pick from Nipsey Hussle; both stars have crossed gang lines to record with Cash Princes alum YG.
Five questions with the Chicago-born “Lucid Dreams” hip-hop star:
Forbes: What was your first job? “Factory job creating car parts.”
What’s the app you can’t live without? “Soundcloud.”
How many hours per week do you work now? “168.”
Worst advice you’ve received? “To change my style of music in order to try and be more popular.”
What is your greatest achievement? “I haven’t reached it yet.”
The Atlanta-born emcee is already accumulating princely numbers: His 2018 debut, Harder Than Ever, earned gold certification for sales of more than 500,000 units. He now grosses over $70,000 per tour stop.
The Georgia native got started with the help of Cash Princes alum Young Thug, whose YSL label co-released Gunna’s studio debut Drip Or Drown—which soared to No. 3 on the Billboard charts—in February. His single “Drip Too Hard,” with listmate Lil Baby, earned triple-platinum certification.
Five questions with the hip-hop star who earned $15 million last year:
Forbes: What was your first job? “Busboy.”
What’s the app you can’t live without? “Uber Eats.”
How many hours per week do you work? “168.”
Worst advice you’ve ever received? “Be realistic.”
What’s your greatest achievement? “Being in a place where I can take care of my family.”Play Video
Russ: How I Maintained Control Over My Music | 30 Under 30 2019| 3:05
“I’ve never heard anything like what comes out of Rico Nasty’s mouth,” says Shiloh. “She’s trap, she’s urban, but she’s also rock with hints of screamo … somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”
With a quirky tone and thoughtful visuals, the Philadelphia upstart made her major-label debut last year at Interscope with the critically acclaimed Whack World. The social-media-friendly album featured 15 one-minute songs. She earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Music Video category this year for her 2017 single “Mumbo Jumbo.”
Our list of Hip-Hop’s Cash Princes and Princesses ranks the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under age 30 in terms of future earning potential. No repeats are allowed. This year, the honorees were selected by a panel of five judges: Nipsey Hussle, the late 2015 Cash Prince who sent in his picks just days ahead of his untimely passing; 30 Under 30 honoree and songwriter Mickey Shiloh; basketball legend and professional DJ Shaquille O’Neal; and Forbes editors Zack O’Malley Greenburg and Natalie Robehmed.
-Zack O’Malley Greenburg; Forbes Staff
The Art Of Survival: The Art Of Adire Gave This Textile Artist Global Fame, She Now Educates Generations Of Women In Nigeria
Textile artist Nike Davies-Okundaye worked as a construction laborer and carried water and firewood to survive. The art of adire gave her global fame and she is now educating generations of women in Nigeria.
There was no way Nike Davies-Okundaye could look the other way. For after all, she too had been a victim in her early teens.
Too many women were being pushed down the traditional path of marriage and child-rearing in her country.
Born in 1951 in Ogidi-Ijumu, a small village in western Nigeria known for its spectacular rock formations and traditional art industry, Davies-Okundaye resolved to fight this practice four decades ago.
“By the age of 13, they wanted to marry me off because my father had no money. I had to run away from home and join a traveling theater. I said I didn’t want to marry and wanted to pursue art,” recalls the internationally-renowned Lagos-based artist.
Not wanting to become one of six wives to a minister, Davies-Okundaye found her escape through adire, the name given to the Yoruba craft of tie-and-dye where indigo-dyed cloth is made using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques. Growing up in a predominantly art and craft household, Davies-Okundaye is a fifth-generation artist who decided to take the craft seriously due to poverty.
“I had no money to go to school and the first education parents give you is to teach you what they do. So, when I finished primary six and I had no support to go to secondary school, I said to myself, ‘let me master art so I can teach other women to also use their hand to make a living through their own artwork’.”
Davies-Okundaye was forced to work in the male-dominated construction sector, carrying concrete in pans to builders in order to save one shilling, just enough to buy a yard of fabric to create what she called wall-hanging art.
Her goal was to use the traditional wax-resist methods to design patterned fabric in a dazzling array of tints and hues. The adire design is the result of hand-painted work carried out mostly by women and through that, Davies-Okundaye saw a way to help women to become economically empowered. After all, her first break in life came as a result of that.
“There was no other job I was doing apart from adire. I was lucky the American government came to Nigeria to recruit an African who will teach African Americans how to make traditional textiles or crafts in the state. That is how I was lucky and got picked.”
Davies-Okundaye was the only woman in a class of 10 men who were flown to Maine in northeastern United States in 1974. That is where her whole outlook on life changed.
“Before I went to America, I used to carry three drums of water every day and carry firewood to be able to survive. It was like a breakthrough in my life when I reached America. I said ‘is this heaven?’ I was the only woman in the class and all the men were learning women’s looms and I kept telling them ‘this is for women’ and they said ‘yes, in America, what a man can do, a woman can also do’.”
This was in stark contrast to what she knew to be true in Nigeria at the time.
“If your husband is an artist, you are not allowed to do art. In the 1960s, if your husband has a PhD, you are not allowed to also have a PhD. You had to give room for your husband to be your boss.”
She decided to beat those age-old stereotypes.
As one of 15 wives to her then-husband at the time, Davies-Okundaye, with her newfound knowledge gained in America, started a revolution at home. She encouraged the other wives to create their own art business using adire.
“I said ‘if you learn this, you can earn a living by yourself and get your power because your money is your power’ and that is how they also started learning it. I didn’t stop sharing the knowledge there. I gathered girls on the streets who were selling kola nuts and peanuts and started training them. I said ‘if this textile can take me to America, let me teach other people’,” says Davies-Okundaye.
And that has been her calling ever since. Davies-Okundaye is the founder and director of four art centers, which offer free training to 150 young artists in Nigeria in visual, musical and performing arts.
One of the centers is the largest art gallery in West Africa comprising over 7,000 art works.
“They used to get the police to arrest me because they said I was trying to teach feminism in Nigeria because I went to America. They said I was going to corrupt our Nigerian women but I believe God sent me to liberate a lot of women who have the passion for what makes them happy but are afraid to do it because of what people will say. I say do what makes you happy always!”
Why This Photographer Looked Up During The Lockdown
Steven Benjamin chose to focus on the bird life in his garden in Cape Town to escape the confines of the lockdown.
During South Africa’s five-week shutdown (the country is still on Level 4 restrictions), Cape Town-born underwater photographer Steven Benjamin more used to sharks, whales and dolphins, used the period to look up instead – and indulge in bird-watching, another passion of his.
“Ever since the age of five or six, I have been interested in birds. I was dyslexic as a young child and I still have my first bird book where I ‘ticked’ backwards. I was trying to identify the birds that flew into my pre-school class and begged my mom to let me mark off what I’d seen, so birding has always been a passion,” says Benjamin, who also runs a seal-snorkeling business.
He has spent his life capturing South Africa’s marine world, and now, Benjamin had to redirect his focus to his Kalk Bay garden during the lockdown to photograph Cape Town’s resident birdlife.
He says photographing these feathered beauties is a way to bring joy during these uncertain times.
“They are so beautiful but incredibly difficult to photograph because they are shy and extremely fast. Photographing birds is a challenge but it creates a mental space to observe and admire nature.”
Soon after the lockdown started, Benjamin put white sugar in his bird feeder every morning and enjoyed the sight of local birds and documented them. He posted the images on Instagram and that garnered some online attention.
“The lockdown has made me relax and take the time to do things I would never have gotten around to doing. I settled on this project, which I work on every day. I’m always adding something new to the scene and there are always new birds and interactions happening. It’s made the days fly by,” he says.
During the lockdown, there was only one male Cape Sugar Bird that landed in his garden. This spectacular bird is unique to South Africa and mostly only found in the Western Cape. All of this will go into an exhibition Benjamin is working towards in Cape Town.
‘Our Home Became The Film Set, Blankets Became Props, Windows Became Locations’
A poem exclusively penned and performed in lockdown in the US for the readers of FORBES AFRICA, by Rwandan artist Malaika Uwamahoro.
Malaika Uwamahoro, an artist born in Rwanda, and a Theatre Studies BA graduate from Fordham University in New York City, has performed her own poetry on stages around the world including at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and at the African Union summits in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Kigali (Rwanda).
In 2014, she made her Off-Broadway debut at Signature Theatre in the world premiere of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho.
Currently resident in Portland, Maine, in the United States, she speaks to FORBES AFRICA about her life in lockdown, and about a poem she penned exclusively for the readers of the magazine: “To fight this pandemic, essential workers and medical doctors are doing their best on the frontlines to ensure everyone in need gets the necessary support and best care possible… Before we are all choked and out of breath just by thinking about this, I extend this poetry piece as an invitation to look inward.”
How did she come up with the poem, titled I Don’t Mind!, and its accompanying video?
“It was late in the night, my fiancé was fast asleep, and I thought to myself, ‘how do I really feel about all this, what are my true thoughts about this pandemic, what can I do’? I opened my notes and the words began to flow.”
A few days later, she shared the poem with her fiancé, Christian Kayiteshonga, a filmmaker.
“We had previously been pondering ways to make art in our home. This poem seemed like the perfect push to set us in our new path. Our home became the film set, using blankets and cake mix as props, windows and office space as locations, myself as the talent, him as the crew, and now you as the audience,” says Uwamahoro, who also performed for the ‘In the Spotlight’ segment at the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit in Durban, South Africa, on March 6.
Download issues of Forbes Africa
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa June/July 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa April 2020 - 30 Under 30 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa March 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa February 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa December 2019/ January 2020 R50.00
Subscribe to Forbes Africa
Leaving Airplane Middle Seats Empty Could Cut Coronavirus Risk Almost In Half, A Study Says
Zindzi Mandela passes away, aged 59
How Oprah Made Her $2.6 Billion Dollar Fortune | Forbes
How Entrepreneur Rhonesha Byng Created A Mantra From Her Name | Unfiltered | Forbes
Will Joe Biden Raise Taxes and Crush the Economy? – Steve Forbes | What’s Ahead | Forbes
- Health4 days ago
[IN NUMBERS] Coronavirus Update: COVID-19 In Africa
- Heroes & Survivors7 days ago
The Test, Trial And Triumph
- Billionaires4 days ago
Tesla Vehicles Could Soon Become Completely Autonomous As Self-Driving Tech ‘Very Close’, Elon Musk Says
- Video4 days ago
America’s Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies | Forbes
- Video5 days ago
Meet The Latinx Founder Building A $100 Million Tech Hub | Forbes
- Video5 days ago
Should Covid-19 Delay Reopening Schools? – Steve Forbes | What’s Ahead | Forbes
- Current Affairs1 day ago
Zindzi Mandela passes away, aged 59
- Video7 days ago
Covid-19 and The Economy: What You Need to Know – Steve Forbes | What’s Ahead | Forbes